JERI DANSKY professionalorganizer

July 2009 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: Organizing the Book Collection


Keep like with like - that's a basic organizing principle. Let's look at the many ways to put that principle into practice when it comes to organizing your books.


1. Organize by Category

This seems to be the most popular approach - with people using their own sets of categories. There's fiction vs. nonfiction, and then whatever subcategories make sense. Fiction could be subdivided by genre (mysteries, science fiction, etc.) and nonfiction categories could include biography, history, self-help, travel, cookbooks, etc.


Some people alphabetize within fiction; others do not. There are some problems with alphabetical storage, as one person who uses this approach points out: "Naturally, as I have a lot of books, this means never buying anything more by Aravind Adiga. The implications for reshelving are too tedious. I plan to read a lot more Zola though in future."


Some choose to use established classification systems: the Dewey Decimal Classification or the Library of Congress Classification.


2. Organize by Color

The color approach has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years. It seems to be something you either love or hate.


3. Organize by Illustrator

My friend Jim collects illustrated books, and they are, quite logically, organized by illustrator.


4. Organize by Read vs. To Be Read

You might separate the books you've read - and decided are worth keeping - from the books you've bought but haven't yet read. In his book The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, Steve Leveen recommends this approach, suggesting you create a Library of Candidates for reading. This, in turn, could get organized by category; one that Leveen has is called For When I Go There - "books to read in particular places."


5. Don't Organize Them (but use cataloging software)

You could put your books in the shelves randomly - and use one of the many cataloging programs available to locate a specific book.


How do you organize your books? I'd love to hear from you - and see photos! Post a comment here, or send e-mail.



Organizing Product of the Month


to do list on green paper; includes call cat psychic


These animal dividers could be a fun way to indicate the beginning and end of book categories. They are available in sets which include the head and tail of the animal of your choice: giraffe, reindeer, or pig.



First Organizing Quote of the Month


I take on too many responsibilities. I’m bad at saying no, and good at overwhelming myself and then not getting anything done. ...


So here’s what I’ve learned: quit. Anything you possibly can, quit. We do so many things that don’t add any value to our lives or anyone else’s, and those things get in the way of that which is actually worthwhile. My favorite example is reading a book - if it’s bad, we still tend to finish it just because we’ve already invested time in it. Why not cut our losses, stop reading, and spend that time reading a better book? Being a quitter is not a bad thing - it’s a smart thing. Remove the things from your life that have no value, regardless of how much time you’ve invested, and put your time and energy into things that actually matter.


-- from David Pierce's Five Rules for Life



Second Organizing Quote of the Month


I don't know if you've ever trimmed your book collection of 1,500 or so down to, uh hang on let me count, 17, but it's actually not as painful as it sounds. It's actually nice to admit to yourself that really, if we're all being honest here, you are not going to read War and Peace, probably ever, so give it to someone who might. It was just that, over and over again. Then you drink your vodka and watch nice young men come over and take your books away in crates and hope the books find better lives.


-- Jessa Crispin, editor-in-chief of "a monthly web magazine and daily blog blog dedicated to those who love to read," who recently moved from Chicago to Berlin



Third Organizing Quote of the Month


One might purchase a book with the intention of reading it later, but at a certain point the timeline of future reading stretches out so far as to make it clear that some of these books will never be read and one becomes an Imelda Marcos of books.


-- Amber, on Prettier than Napoleon



Book Organizing: More Reading


My blog has a whole section on book organizing - covering everything from finding new homes for your books, to clever bookends and beautiful bookcases, to accounts from those who've successfully pruned their book collections.



Highlights From My Blog in June


There were 24 entries in my organizing and de-cluttering blog in June. Some of the most popular entries were:


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Reminder: I'm on Twitter


I'm using Twitter mostly for those tidbits of organizing-related stuff I find - little things that will never make their way into a newsletter or a blog post. I also use Twitter to announce new blog posts. Follow me, @JeriDansky, if you'd like.



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