How to set up your library so that your reading flourishes.
I got the idea of how to organize my home library from the book Little Guide To Your Well-Read Life. He first suggest diving books into unread (Library of Candidates) and read (Living Library),
All our books are spread out through out the house on shelves in different rooms. My unread books remain in my bedroom while most read and reference books are in my office with a few exceptions.
- Dining/Family Room: homeschool books we are actively using, reference books, and baskets of readers (labeled Bible history, science, reading. See photo below)
- My Bedroom:Books I plan to read or will read again (Library of Candidates). Shelves are labeled: Hebrew Roots, Christian Encouragement, Devotionals, Relation vs Religion. Christian Fiction, Theology, Reference, Health.
- Living Room: Theology, hubby’s political books, horses (best hardbacks look nice in the living room).
- My Office Shelves (photo right): Theology, Bible study tools, reference (for whatever book I am working on) and two huge shelves of books read waiting to give away or list on PaperbackSwap (currently on vacation hold because I am too busy to mail books).
- Upstairs Shelves: Homeschool books we are not actively studying (I rotate to dining/family room area as needed). Also includes tons of boxed books that need shelves.
- Kitchen: Cookbooks
- Boys Rooms: Book baskets we rotate to dining/family room area as needed.
Right now my bedroom shelves have overflowed on to stacks on the floor. I got carried away with Paperback swap and have well over 80 books waiting to be read. So many books, so little time. Sigh.
- Create a two-part library. Devote one portion to books you plan to read—what Steve calls your Library of Candidates. Reserve the other for the books you have read—your Living Library.
In Steve’s home library, Candidates are on shelves that line one wall of his study. The books in his Living Library are on the facing wall and elsewhere in his home.
- Cluster titles of comparable interest. Keep all candidate books on bird-watching together, for example. Even here, though, listen to your inner reading voice, with all its quirks. Do you keep all your novels on Venice in a fiction section, or should they live in a travel section? Perhaps you have enough books on Venice to claim their own section. Each method works.
- Label your shelves. This time-honored tradition works as well in a home library as it does in public libraries. The label holders that we re-created from a 19th-century library catalog are easily adaptable for any library because they’re so simple to customize.
Ah, but what should those labels say?
|They could all be traditional or totally idiosyncratic. Here are some traditional labels:||Here are some rather idiosyncratic:|
In his home library, Steve intersperses traditional labels with other titles of his own, including:
- Après Reading: a temporary holding shelf in his Living Library where Steve keeps a new book that he’s just finished reading. He revisits the book two or three times over the course of a few weeks, immediately after reading it, to help him retain more of what he’s read. Then he shelves it in his Living Library.
- For When I Go There: Candidate books that Steve has ready to leap off the shelf and go in his carry-on…for when he goes there. More than a dozen books set in the Florida Keys await long weekends. For longer treks, he has Robert Hughes’s Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding; Tony Horwitz’s Blue Latitudes, about the South Pacific of Captain Cook’s day; and Paul Theroux’s Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean.
- Books to Give: books he stocks up on to give away. They range from several for young people who are starting their careers to those for friends who have lost a family member.
- Maybe Later: books he’s given up on for now, but may come back to someday. (As he reminds readers in his Little Guide, it’s okay to give up on a book—even one that’s supposed to be good.)
4. Keep empty space on your bookshelves so that your library can continue to grow as your interests do. Empty shelves are like a beckoning road ahead.
[What?? An empty shelf...time to get more books!:)]
5. Optional: add a large floor pillow…for your dog. Makes a great footrest for when you choose a book from your (labeled) shelf, sit down in your favored chair, and read. Ahhhh. To quote Shakespeare (shelved under Classics): “My library was dukedom enough.”