A Bookshelf of Organized Chaos

Standard

Recently, the photograph that runs along my sidebar was a topic of conversation with a friend.  It isn’t something I pulled off the internet, but rather a photograph I took of my personal bookshelf.   The shelf is one of the more noticeable features of my home as it covers the an entire wall in my dining room.  It reaches all the way to the ceiling and it is rammed with hundreds of books.  With such a large collection, it would make sense to have  a sophisticated system of organization – like alphabetizing or Dewey Decimal – to make it easy to find any book.  I’ve mentioned my highly organized nature, so naturally there is a system in place, but no one really knows how it works except for me!   Nothing is alphabetized or numbered and genre based categories are not utilized. Everything is neatly shelved, but aside from that it looks like a haphazard stack to the untrained eye.  Despite my unorthodox ways, I know where each and every book is located.  Below is a larger scale photograph of my shelf and a list of the categories I use to keep everything in working order.

Writers I Admire
Location: Second Shelf

I carved out a special section to store the books of authors who I hold in high regard as a reader and as an aspiring writer.  The likes of David Foster Wallace, Ivan Klíma, John Irving, Michael Chabon, Paul Auster, Dennis Potter, Guy de Maupassant, Vladimir Nabokov, and Paulo Coehlo populate this area of the wall along with a few other new recruits.  I keep these writers grouped together because they inspire me to continue experimenting with my own style of writing.  I don’t want to emulate them, but rather write with the same spirit of courage, creativity, honesty, boldness, and heart.

Books I’ve Read
Location: Second Shelf (far right, part of which is not visible in the picture), Third Shelf (1/4 way in from the left and extends to the far right which is not visible), Fourth Shelf (From the left edge up to The Da Vanci Code).

If you have visited the “My Bookshelf” tab, you’ll probably spot several of those titles stacked on my shelves.  I keep most books I’ve read if I enjoyed them, (some are double stacked behind what is visible).  Whatever I don’t keep is sold to Half-Price Books where I usually have the cash in my hands for an entire five minutes before buying something “new.”

The books are grouped in such a strange pattern on different shelves in order to link different categories without creating too much disruption.  I tend to read YA at a fast pace, which means just about every book in that section has been read.  That creates a nice meeting point to start stacking all other books I’ve read.  The other meeting point connects to Authors I Admire as the vast majority of those books have also been read.

These books are shelved in the order in which they were read.  Books on the right are the most recently read, which makes it easier to distinguish them from the next category . . .

Books I Haven’t Read
Location: Third Shelf (far right, starting after Martin Amis and continuing to a point that is not visible in the photograph), Fourth Shelf (starting after The Da Vinci Code and extending beyond the scope of photograph).

The largest category by far, but I would rather have too much to read than not enough.  The books are stacked on different shelves for a purely logistical reason – size.  The hardcovers are too big to fit on the third shelf and the collection as a whole is too big to fit all on one shelf.

Almost Finished Reading
Location: Third Shelf (in the middle, right after Water For Elephants and stopping at The Collected Short Stories of Anton Chekov)

These are books that for whatever reason I never got to the last page.  Perhaps another book caught my attention or I just didn’t get into the story.  I can usually remember where I left off and almost always return to them at one time or another.  I figured the perfect place for them was right in between read and unread, like a buffer zone of sorts.

Young Adult

Location: Third Shelf (left Side) and Fourth Shelf (left Side)

Ever since I read Twilight, (yeah, I’m one of those people), I found myself drawn into the YA genre.  There are a number of series of which I’ve become a devoted follower.  What I love about YA is the storytelling aspect.  The writing may not be fine literature, but the stories are usually very original and always a good bit of fun.  After reading something heavy or difficult, I love jumping into a realm where I don’t have to analyze every single word.

The series I’ve collected include, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Twilight series, (which has actually turned into anything by Stephanie Meyer), Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series, Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series, Percy Jackson, and Claudia Gray’s Evernight series.

I tend to mix read with unread, but only because I go through them so quickly.  At the moment, there’s only a few I haven’t read, which means it’s time to start stockpiling again!

Size again plays a role in why YA occupies two shelves instead of one.  Harry Potter and parts of the Twilight collection are too tall to fit the third shelf, while the rest of YA is too short to properly fill up the fourth shelf, (sometimes aesthetics have to be considered).

Click for more . . .

Continue reading

The Book Vibe

Standard

Books have a strange way of ending up on my shelf.  There are writers I like and genres I enjoy, but those two elements aren’t at the core of what decides whether a book comes home with me.  Instead of letting the mass market machine choose everything I read, I rely on something much more unconventional: The Book Vibe.

Books are quite a bit like people.  They have personalities, distinct voices, and a story to tell. Second hand books in particular have a history that often includes some pretty heavy baggage.  With their covers cracked and worn they remind me of an old man I often see sitting in the back corner at my favorite coffee shop.  I wonder where he’s been what he’s seen in his long life.  For some reason, he always stands out amid the throngs of other people that come and go.  A lone book in a sea of thousands grabs my attention in much the same way.

Sometimes a book will catch my eye because the cover is bent in a strange way or the name of the author sounds like someone I’d like to know.  The pull is so strong, I can’t resist for fear I’ll never see it again.  Books aren’t just something to read as each one is an experience that often changes my perspective. When they call out to me, I simply must listen.

Touch creates an even stronger connection.  While hovering over a bargain table or scanning a shelf above my head, I’ll run my fingertips over the binding of each book.  A combination of chance and fate ignite a little jolt that travels all the way up my arm.  The sensation tingles at first and then explodes into an instinctive surge.  Before I know it the book is off the shelf and in my hands.  The cover is open and I start reading straight away.  We get acquainted so quickly its as if we’ve been friends for far longer than a few seconds.

I’m well aware that this is all probably in my head and that’s fine.  Books are a personal experience, which makes how I find them a wholly individual process.  I’m also inclined to argue that my book vibe is never wrong.  It works in my local bookshop as well as it does in Prague or Shanghai.  Given its stellar track record, I trust the vibe over a bestseller’s list any day.

The Book Vibe is just one more reason why people tend to classify me in the weird category, but I’d rather be an oddity than be closed off to any sort of possibility.  Fate always pushes us towards exactly what we need.  Whether it be a book, a person, or a place, there is a reason behind every encounter.

Below is a list of selected books I’ve discovered with The Book Vibe.  Each one has a story and I thought I’d share how we got together.  I have a relationship with every book I read, for I’ve found they are incredibly loyal friends that are always very wise.

Continue reading