Aaah, books, let me count the ways I love books. I love to read books, touch books, look at books, and I really love to organize books. There is nothing more satisfying than spending a few hours removing the books from a bookshelf with a client, sorting them, giving away the ones that are no longer useful or beautiful, and then putting them all back. People have differing opinions as to whether or not books are excess clutter. If you ask librarians, they will say that books are not clutter, no matter how many you have. However, if you ask someone who doesn’t read books, they’ll look at you like you have ten heads. They will tell you how to get the information you want by searching the internet. For them, books are excess clutter.
The Sweet Spot
Somewhere in between these two opposing attitudes is a fabulous compromise. I believe that books are both useful and decorative. Perhaps books become clutter when you don’t have nice bookshelves to put them on or when you have so many that you can’t find and enjoy them.
As I write this article, I’m looking at the bookcase in my living room to see how I organize and display my books. I grouped them by categories such as decorating and design, fiction, self-help, sports, hobbies & interests. Wait! Is that a collection of encyclopedias on the bottom shelf? Aren’t those forbidden? They are certainly not useful anymore. I think my “other half” had them when he was in school. Yet there they are, still taking up space. I’d better explain why I still have them.
To the organized eye, encyclopedias are beautiful. They are all the same colour. The writing on the spines is all the same, and they are numbered sequentially. What more can you ask for? They unequivocally have all the characteristics of any good organizing system, so I’m keeping them no matter what anyone says about how out-of-date they are.
Organizing Clients’ Books
I remember a bookshelf-organizing job I did with a client a while back. We started by grouping the books into categories (history, art, fiction, poetry & writing, autobiographies, etc.). Then we organized them on the shelves by colour and style of writing on the spines. We separated them into beautiful groupings. Then, we strategically placed bookends, vases, and photos in various places to keep the books separated into their various categories. We stacked some of the larger art books horizontally and used the stack to support other books placed vertically.
With another client, we grouped her books into categories and assigned them various bookshelves throughout the house. Then we sorted them alphabetically by author. It took some time, I’ll tell you. We also found that she had several copies of the same book. It just goes to show what happens when they’re scattered all over the house with no particular organizing system. You buy duplicates or triplicates because you can’t find the copy(ies) you already own.
There are obviously many ways of sorting, organizing, and decorating with books. Do what works for you and what is pleasing to your eye. But whatever you do, don’t start reading, or your library organizing project will never be complete!