My husband used to work at a library years ago. Occasionally he is appalled into action by the sight of my bookshelves with their loose conglomerations of reference books, health stuff, parenting books and fiction, fiction, fiction.
He got a man in to build floor to ceiling shelves in the study, in the hope of containing the craziness. But the books were soon overflowing and lying sideways on top of one another in an orgy of words.
Every now and then he will call me over and start unpacking books one by one. "What's this?" he'll say in despair: "Have you ever read it? Will you? And why is this book on vegan cooking for children next to this Ivan Vladislavic novel?"
And as much as I love the sight of a beautifully organised shelf, I rebel a little at the attempt to regiment my wild collection, which seems so happy that it breeds when I am not looking.
There is some order in my madness, though. There's a shelf next to my bed on which I pile books that belong to other people and the bookclub - because if they go into the general melee on the other shelves I fear they will never come out again.
Another shelf is dedicated to books I have not read but definitely want to. Most of these were bought on book sales, and are waiting for that Sunday night when I've finished a book and need another one to get going on.
And then there's my friend Jean...
"My books are arranged alphabetically by the author's first name. I have run out of space in the book shelf so I stack the books, neatly and in order of size, in front of the books on the shelf.
"I rarely keep a book once I have read it so 95% of the books I own (about 500 in total) have not been read. I buy, on average, about 5 books per month. I read, on average about three. My husband thinks I am a nutter but I cannot resist. I rarely go into a bookshop and not walk out with a book.
"I have a database of all the books I own and I record the date I read a book and what my rating was for it. I also have a list (about 100 long) of books I still want to buy. Please don't send the men with the white jackets to come and get me, I am actually OK."
I think she's disturbed. What do you think?
Do you have an organised bookshelf? Or do your books have a shelf life of it's own? Tell us about your bookshelves in the comment box below.