As I was going through boxes and boxes of files yesterday, all neatly labeled, I had to suppress my urge to alphabetize them even further in favor of getting the job done in a timely manner. I’ve always been an organizer—not necessarily in an entirely efficient or streamlined sense, but I like things to be in a certain order.

Growing up, I often emptied out my entire bookshelf, carpeting my bedroom floor several tomes deep in my books, simply to put them back on, in a newly perfected fashion. I spent time worrying about whether I was going have to split up a single author on two shelves or whether a book that simply had a sequel could find a place on the shelf meant solely for series in order to make more space for single novels, sorted alphabetically by author. This task would take hours, and I loved every second of it, often stopping to skim through books I had forgotten I owned or just loved too dearly to put away without at least a cursory glance.

I did the same with my dad’s record collection, fretting over whether I should put all the “The” bands in with the T’s or if I should be grammatically correct and go with the second word in the title.

When I graduated from college and my roommate and I bought a giant red bookcase from Ikea in order to fit our combined literary collection (or, at least the best ones gleaned from libraries at home), I withheld the itching to sort them by author in alphabetical order. We did, however, agree that some sort of order was needed and our shelves are (or were—too many new additions without the proper re-shelving has made our dear bookcase an endearing jam-packed mess) informally named thusly:

Harry Potter/Other Series

Plays & Poetry


Pretentious Books That Make Us Look Smart/James Joyce

Silly/Coffeetable Books

Short Stories/Anthologies

Everything Else

We’re planning on moving over the summer, and I’m already kind of excited for the whole new adventure of putting all the books back on the shelves after we get everything set up. We’re going to need to get a new bookcase, for sure, and the possibilities here for new organization are numerous.

3 Responses to Sorted.

  1. Monica says:

    Are you sure you weren’t a librarian in another life? Sounds like you have the cataloging/classification gene!

  2. Ciara says:

    I love organising my bookshelves and I can never settle on the right kind of order, size, colour, author, theme, there are endless possibilities.

  3. Ann says:

    I know what you mean. With all the CD’s, I group them Jazz, Classical, Irish, Christmas, everything else, and then alphabetically in their group. So what should we do with “The”?

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