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An Easy Way to Sort Out Books

I am happy to report that the sorting of the books is finished. It was a task I had been dreading for ages, but in the end it wasn’t too bad at all.

New readers might not have seen my previous post, where I talked about what I’ve done to increase the amount of shelf space while not using up any more of my room. But here’s how I sorted out my 900 books, and how long it took.

Roger's assorted booksI'm not sure what The Horse Boy is doing here; this is the 'Other Books' section.  I've moved it since this photo was taken.

When I took the books from the shelves, I laid them out all over the carpet and furniture and there were:

239 Non-fiction books
90 Photography books
118 General fiction books, mostly crime and thrillers
365 Science fiction and fantasy books

Roger's bookshelvesMost of my books are at this end of the room. There's another bookcase up the other end. The wall to the left is 13'10", 4.22 m long.

The non fiction took at least two and a half hours to sort and place; these books vary from 4 to 12” tall and I had to adjust the shelves up and down several times until I could get them all in, without wasting too much of the bookcase. I sorted them on the shelves as I went along.

It was the same story with the photography books. There’s a similar range of sizes but they tend to be bigger. They took about an hour and a quarter to put into place, again sorting as I went.

I now had space to sort out the fiction; there’s not far short of 500 books, and they take up a lot of room. This is the system I used:


I sorted
the scifi by author name into four roughly equal piles, into A-F, G-L, M-R and N-Z plus anthologies.

Next, I sorted each of these into alphabetical order; I’d already done a bit of sorting in the previous step, wherever I have more than a couple of any particular author’s books.

Because I was only sorting part of the alphabet at a time, it was quick and easy; each pile is within arm's reach.

For the most part I did not sort any author’s books into any particular order; I know what I’ve got. But volumes of their short stories always go to the right hand end of the author’s books.

Other fiction was sorted in the same way.

Quite a few of the Stephen King and Lee Child volumes are large paperbacks, so I found shelves for these authors first.

I started at the furthest bottom right corner shelf  and worked my way back. It didn’t take long.

Sometimes you can’t get the books in the exact order you want. Don’t worry, you’ll find them when you want to.

That’s it. Done.

Roger's other bookshelfThe other bookcase. Includes works by Larry Niven, Spider Robinson, and a certain Mr. Pratchett. Science fiction.

To sort out and reshelve these 583 fiction books took me a total of three hours. That’s only 19 seconds a book. The 329 non fiction books took rather longer per book, mostly due to moving shelves up and down and up again. But at a total of three and three quarter hours, it’s not too bad.

Well under a day for all 912 books.

But of course, I’ve left room for more books on all the shelves. I’m bound to get some more; you wouldn't want me to run out of books to post about…

I have only 13 books to take to the charity shop, and there’s about ten that are borrowed and can go back now. I’ve even found room to display all the momentoes and trophies that were on top of the bookcases where I couldn’t really see them.

I’m so glad it’s done.

Now, have you sorted out your books recently? Or have you been putting off the evil day?

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