The American politician and educational reformer Horace Mann once said “a home without books is like a room without windows.” And it’s true. Literacy is one of the blessings of Western civilisation – and all civilisations, as a matter of fact. I always like looking at people’s books when visiting (scanning the titles, I mean, not getting them out and having a read), as this gives a glimpse into what people are interested in. Your own home library is a bit more daunting. How do you organise it? How do you avoid the all too common problem of spending ages scanning a row of spines looking for one particular title without having a clue which shelf it is on – and probably missing the title in the first pass over the shelves. Start the process of looking at the shelves. A common mistake is to buy a bookshelf that has many rows of shelves but these shelves are only big enough to accommodate paperbacks.
If you try to start a filing system for your home library with small shelves, your system will be sent into chaos by books that are too big to fit in the shelves.Get a generous set of shelves capable of taking A4 portrait sized books, as this will hold most books, and have one separate place for “outsized” books – usually atlases. Now take all the books you own and start sorting them into piles.Resist all temptation to start reading them – a hard ask. Having a friend on-hand to keep you focussed helps.
I know they look impressive all lined up in order, but you aren’t fooling anyone into thinking you’re a well-read intellectual just by having all the titles there nicely lined up and pristine.Everyone knows that you can buy these “classic titles” in bulk. It’s more impressive if you have well-thumbed copies. The first step when sorting books is to get rid of what you don’t read, never will read and can’t face the prospect of reading