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Arrange your books like your lovers...

May 6th 2021

To organise by name, by height, by depth? It is a truth universally acknowledged that organising one’s bookshelf is like plummeting through several layers of hell. Just where do you start?

It turns out, the filing away of old flames has rather a lot in common with the arrangement of one’s bookshelves. There’s much to consider – the mistakes that should have been thrown out straight away; the classics remembered fondly, the summer romances and the thrillers whose memory will never fail to excite.

To bring some order and method (hello Poirot) to our messy stacks of books, we turn today to romance to provide some organisational answers for the bibliophile that even Marie Kondo would be proud of.


OPTION 1: ALPHABETICAL

Alphabetically, by surname. The most obvious answer. Works for past lovers and loved books alike.

Pros: a rational, ordered approach. Much less likely to leave someone out or confuse one for another. [Trust Duncan from Katherine Heiny's hilariously funny Early Morning Riser. He knows a thing or two about a long catalogue of romances.]

Cons: relies on a good memory (in fact, knowledge altogether) of the name of the person/author in question. [Our Sadie from The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman might have trouble with this one.]

Potential solution: could organise by title, perhaps? (‘The One Who Got Away’, ‘The Friend-Zoned’?).


OPTION 2: A BIBLIOTHERAPIST’S APPROACH

Of course, a Bibliotherapist would take an emotionally intelligent approach to organisation and arrange by feeling. So, a shelf for Nostalgia, another for Heartache, and perhaps one for Jilted Anger?

[Please note that the shelf for Regrets often needs a sturdy couple of brackets. LoveMyRead is not responsible for personal injury.]


OPTION 3: SPEED

Some people like to sort their page-turners and guilty pleasures from their literary masterpieces. The former are like exciting one-night stands while literary affairs take more of a slower burn. We'll bet that you'll spend a night with People Like Her but a luxurious month over Great Circle.

For the commitment-phobe, a bookshelf ordered by endurance may be useful – at least you’ll know how long this relationship is likely to take.


OPTION 4: A DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM

Fans of Juliette Skeslien Charles’ headily romantic The Paris Library will be familiar with The Dewey Decimal system employed by libraries. Ten subjects of ten classes with ten divisions.

God that sounds complicated. Let’s move on.


OPTION 5: CHRONOLOGICAL

Just as it’d be weird to file an Austen next to a Zadie Smith, one wouldn’t compare one’s first and latest love. Try perhaps shelving decade by decade – it should have the pleasing effect of showing off one’s improving and discerning taste…Of more refined choices and less erratic decisions that come with age.

[Yes, we know that’s a flagrant lie, so we’ll move on to Option 6].


OPTION 6: PROGRESS

And now for the next stage of bookshelf arranging hell.

This approach sees a Done, Doing and To-Be-Done method of ordering. A very useful way of sorting things out because the TBR pile can be clearly labelled. For the more focused of us, this is a very sensible method of ordering; for the rest of us, it may result in the need for reinforced floorboards under the TBR area and a sheer ‘do-I-swipe-left-or-right’ panic at the range of options on offer.


OPTION 7: I GIVE UP. LET’S JUST MAKE IT PRETTY

The give-up-and-go-for-pretty option is actually very difficult to argue with. Leaves room for arrangement by height, depth and beauty.

Seven options and seven different layers of difficulty. For those who have romanced with Heathcliff and Darcy and are as perpetually falling-in-love with modern day heroes and heroines, I’m sorry, but there’s nothing to help you. Your house will forever look like mine. It started out as just a few books on my beside table.

[It’s possible things got out of hand:]

Put only the very best books on your shelf.


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Happy reading,
The LoveMyRead Team x

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