Bringing Order to my Bookshelves

I have been spending a bit of time recently tidying bookshelves.

I used to be very efficient at logging new books into LibraryThing, so that I knew exactly what I had and exactly where to find it. But I’m afraid I let things slip. Silly, because it took so little time and the benefits were huge.

And so I have been going through bookcases and boxes, making sure everything was in LibraryThing, clearing out books that I didn’t really need to keep, and generally putting things straight.

First I attended to my Virago bookcase. I had gone on cataloguing my VMCs, but I did find a duplicate and a couple of books that had slipped through the net/

Next came the smaller Persephone bookcase. I was pleased to find that all my Persephones were catalogued, and now they are all neatly shelved in series order.

And yesterday I started on a bigger job. The bookcase that holds all of my old orange and green Penguins, and books from other publishers of a similar size and vintage.

I knew that a lot of these were uncatalogued and the shelves were rather muddled. And so I pulled all of the books out and arranged them on the floor. Piles for authors when I had a number of their books, and piles by imprint when I didn’t.

And here they are:

It was lovely to see them all, out from behind the glass, and to add a few new acquisitions.

I have wanted a copy of The Last of the Tresilians by J.I.M Stewart (aka Michael Innes) ever since Karyn wrote about it, and last week I finally spotted a copy at a sensible price. I snapped it up.

I had completely forgotten that I owned Murder in Time by Elizabeth Ferrars. I bought it some time ago because I’ve enjoyed her books before and because the synopsis had echoes of one of Agatha Christie’s best known books.

See what you think:

“Nothing could sound more innocently gay – or fantastically extravagant – than a flight on a specially chartered plane for a weekend in Nice. But most of the nine people Mark Auty invited suspect some sinister intention. Why, then, did they accept? For accept they did. Coming from such far-removed places as a pub on the edge of Dartmoor, a quiet Oxfordshire village, a Soho nightclub, to gather for the journey in mark’s Surrey home. Why Mark asked them and why they accepted are questions that are only answered in full after murder has intervened…”

I hadn’t forgotten, I could never forget, my little orange Penguin copy of High Wages by Dorothy Whipple. I was utterly thrilled when I found it, at a very reasonable price, long before the Persephone reissue.

Knowle & The Sackvilles by Vita Sackville-West is another recent arrival. I caught it on ReadItSwapIt. Sometimes I curse the swapping system, when nobody with a book you want wants anything of yours, but sometimes it works beautifully. Somebody asked for my discarded crime novel and had an out of print gem that I could take in exchange! I have Fancy by Monica Dickens on the way too in a similar swap.

I discovered, from LibraryThing, that A Conoisseur’s Case and The Crabtree Affair by Michael Innes were the same books, and that the former was the UK title and the latter the US. Why do publishers do that?!

I found a book by Gladys Mitchell that I had completely forgotten. It was in a bargain bin and it was almost worth buying just for the title: Twelve Horses and the Hangman’s Noose.

And I found my Penguin copy of The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson. I must confess that when I bought it I already had the Virago edition and the more recent Bloomsbury Group edition. But it is such a wonderful book, and the Penguin copy was so tatty, so in need of love, that I had to bring it home.

In the end all of the books were catalogued, and now they are back on the shelves.

Other jobs were calling, and Briar likes peace and quiet when she settles down between the bookcases in the evening …

So that’s my three specialist bookcases organised, and tomorrow I start on the rest of my collection!

12 responses

  1. Well my heart leapt when I saw that copy of The Last Tresilians, knowing there would now be 12 listed on LibraryThing, and that it was another copy that would be saved, and read, and hopefully enjoyed.

  2. I find sorting books very theraputic, and arranging my shelves is one of the best tasks that comes with moving into our new flat. Like you, I like rediscovering books I had forgotten about which suddenly seem fascinating and clamour to be read. Good luck with the rest of your shelves.

  3. I tend to call sorting books ‘playing with them’ – it’s wonderful when you do discover a buried treasure – the perils of double-stacking. I’ve promised myself that I will do a Librarything stocktake soon – as I too have got quite lax in getting books entered once acquired.

  4. Time well spent and lots of fun too! I laughed that you’re compelled to give tatty books a home and some much-needed loving. A girl after my own heart.

  5. I am in the place where I know I have to update my list (mine is on Goodreads) luckily with nearly 3 weeks off starting from Wednesday it is one of my jobs ‘to-do’ and I will achieve it.

    I think I need a wet rainy day for this task.

    Look forward to seeing how the rest of your sort out goes.

  6. I ‘weed’ my books when I clean the bookshelves, which are in every room with the exception of our bedroom. They are fairly well organized, although I do say so myself: non ficiton of all kinds in the study (local history, social history, general history, art, biography and autobiography and so forth; the dining room: paperback fiction; the sitting room: collections, letters, diaries, country; bed sitting room: hardback fiction; workroom: antiques, overflow of hardback fiction (latter part of the alphabet, as all organized – of course – in alphabetical order) and books which are just stand alones, no actual ‘section’.

    I currently have a large oblong wicker basket filled with the paperback fiction overflow … more books than I have shelf space for. And yet most of them are unread and, obviously, I don’t want to part with them. I have no idea where to put them so until I can weed the shelves still further, in the basket they must stay! I have not put my books on Library Whatsit … with thousands (and I mean thousands) it would be time better spent actually reading the blimmin’ things!

  7. PS I also have a Victorian mahogany revolving bookcase – in this are my ‘Persephones’, my Lorna Hill ballet books, and some more antiques books which are at least a century old and considerably out of date in their information but are being kept for their sentimental value. And then there’s the summerhouse … just a few out there, too … and the cookery books in the kitchen … and don’t get me started on my magazine collection …

  8. Lovely photo, Jane! I thought I’d put all mine on LT a while ago, but I keep discovering books I hadn’t entered. Too wearying to check everything, though.

  9. I’m looking forward to sorting through all of my books properly when we move house, hopefully next year. They’re dotted all over the place at the moment and I’ve wasted months of my life searching for particular books. I have The Last of the Tresilians and read it years ago, but I haven’t put it on library thing – yet!

  10. Hello Jane,
    Meeting fellow bloggers, like yourself, has made me look at ‘Virago’ and ‘Penguin’ books in a whole new way.
    In the charity shop where I volunteer, we see them donated on a regular basis. Previously they were ‘just another book’, now I always take a close look at them, usually end up by reading a few lines, before valuing them for sale and treating them with a little more respect, as many of them are fantastic sounding stories.
    I have considered starting a small collection of them myself, but who am I kidding? My numerous bookshelves, which take up much of the house, are still groaning under the weight of the hundreds of books I have to read, and that is after a ruthless cull of the titles that I have purchased over the years but in my heart of hearts know that I shall probably never read!!

  11. Pingback: Organising and Counting « The Book Jotter

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