An Organizational Nightmare: Help me with my books!


So, like most folks who read more books than is possibly healthy for them, I’ve got a lot of books. Since I started blogging, my collection has grown considerably, with somewhere around 30 titles being added to my home library (some from publishers and programs, others purchased by me). One of the great things about having a lot of books is that I can loan them out to friends who want to read them. It’s a really helpful way to introduce friends to books they may not read otherwise, new authors and some great concepts.

Despite the great things that come from having a fairly decent pile of books, I’ve got a problem: My bookshelf is an organizational nightmare!

Currently, I have no system in place for keeping track of them all, aside from looking at the shelf. And if a book is on loan, I only have my memory to rely on or a piece of paper if I’ve remembered to write it down.

You can see how this is a problem, I’m sure.

I’ve been slowly working on a spreadsheet listing everything by author, title, publisher, and subject, as well as track a particular book’s availability;p but, this is extremely time-consuming, and I’m hoping there’s an easier system.

So, book lovers, can you help me with my books?

Do you use a spreadsheet? Is a good solution?

How do you keep track of everything?

Your help is greatly appreciated.

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  • Wes

    Hey Aaron, I’ve had this problem too, but only on a minor scale. When my wife and I got married, we bought two book cases to store all of our books because previously all of mine were in boxes. And that’s a problem in and of itself…

    Anyway, my wife is adamant about not keeping things around that aren’t wanted or important. I’ve assessed my book collection (as well as my movie collection) to see if the ones that I own still have value to me. It’s hard to part with a book, especially if you paid for it yourself. I’ve thinned my collection somewhat, but after re-evaluation a month or so ago, I feel I can part with more of them. Some that I own just don’t apply to me anymore. They’re a sort of relic that was left over from a previous era in my life, and even though they had value during that time, I see little need for them now.

    So, all that to say this: how many books do you own that you actually, truly, honestly value owning? Everyone has books that are just sort of… there. I have a bunch. And there are always the books that we love or enjoy, but that we know we’ll never read again. So what’s the point?

    Maybe start by assessing your collection and seeing what books are still relevant to your life, or what you’ll re-read in the future. I think that’d be a good starting point.

    • Aaron Armstrong

      Excellent point, Wes, and definitely something I do periodically. Right now I’ve got maybe 1 or 2 books that I have no intention of ever reading again (they were terrible) but the rest are extremely valuable to me.

      We’ve done this with our DVDs and CDs over the past couple years and purged almost everything (which at first was surprisingly difficult).

      Great advice – thanks again!

      • Wes

        Well, then. That being said, I guess if you’re willing to pay to organize your library, then LibraryThing looks like a decent site. Seems like it allows you to connect to other readers and compare your collections. Plus it gives you another source for book reviews.

        If you’re willing to part with the $25, I’d say go for it. Or at least find someone else that uses it and see how they like it.

  • Clark

    I organize nothing! I gave in a little last week and bought a bookcase, mainly because my wife was getting tired of finding books stacked next to the bed, by my recliner, next to the toilet (LOL) … that sort of thing. The bookcase only solved part of the problem because now I need a second one!

    • Aaron Armstrong

      I finally had to put the pile of books on my nightstand on the bookshelf (double-stacked, of course). The pile was growing faster than I can read. Fortunately I have a wife who reminds me to not get anymore books–at least, not until I’ve finished the ones I’ve already got.

      She’s so helpful.

      Back on topic, I’ve discovered a potential solution that fills my nerdy heart with glee! Books for Mac OSX

      I’m messing about with it now and I think it’ll work!