More shelf space may not be an option. More shelf space requires more shelving, which in turn requires more bookcases, which in turn require more room. Sigh. I gave a few hundred away just over a year ago, but that wasn’t enough. To insure domestic tranquility, I am going to have to get rid of some more of my remaining 4000 or so books (that’s a rough estimate). Maybe I can bring the total down to 2500.
But first, to determine which ones to get rid of, I am going to have to sort my books, which have become significantly randomized over the years. Emptying out my Weston bookshelves when I retired from WHS didn’t help in that regard; it just made it worse. Here’s a photo of just a couple of hundred of my fiction books. You will notice a lot of disorder, uncomfortable like the cartoon above at the top. Once upon a time these books were sorted alphabetically by author — and then by title within each author — but entropy has set in. Not to mention the books that are currently in stacks instead of in their appropriate orientation, and the ones that are double-shelved, with paperbacks hiding behind other paperbacks. As you can tell, this is just a small segment of my fiction category, and then there’s linguistics, and math, and education, and computer science, and so forth. Just be glad I didn’t show you my shelves for languages and linguistics, which are even more overflowing than the books shown here.
So it’s not clear how to sort everything.
Marie Kondo is not my style, in case you haven’t figured that out by now. So I’m not going to gather 4000 books, put them all on the floor in a single room (where????), and go through them one by one to determine which ones spark joy. I may have some duplicates, which will make things easier. But don’t hold your breath. There’s also the problem of which categories will end up in which rooms, but I can’t determine that until I have some rough counts.
The usual sorting algorithms from computer science won’t be much help here, as the logistics of physically moving around hundreds — not to mention thousands — of books makes all the regular algorithms unfeasible. The only solution I can think of is to complete the following iterative process:
- Clear out a temporary buffer space, such as the floor of our upstairs den.
- Go through all six rooms that currently hold bookcases, and pull out all the fiction books with authors that begin with A. Yes, there will be too many Asimovs, but that’s life.
- Do an insertion sort on the A’s.
- Select which ones I can get rid of, aiming for 30%. Pack them in boxes so I can donate them to More Than Words.
- Port the remaining books, which are now sorted, to another room, in an undisclosed location to be determined.
- Repeat with B’s. Then C’s, and so forth.
- Do the same thing for another category, such as linguistics. And so forth.
Cats and books are, of course, inextricably intertwingled, as you can tell from the cat food and water bowl in the photo above. So I’m sure that our five cats will enjoy “helping” with the sorting process. We conclude with a photo that’s not from my house but could well be.