My Weird and Dorky Book Chart

S on SnowdoniaI don’t have a type-A personality even a little bit.

But, there is this one thing that I’m weirdly particular about.

It’s my bookshelves. And my book chart.

I like to read, but, as any good bibliophile knows, the books just pile up and you can’t possibly read as fast as you acquire good books.

Probably the dorkiest thing I’ve ever done is make my book chart. Over the years, I’d acquired all these books in a variety of subject matters. There are the books from my college classes I was too busy to read at the time. The books that were given to me by one person or another. My collection of books about religion. K’s collection of books about the ancient Maya. Interesting-looking nonfiction books picked up at yard sales here and there. It got to be too much. There were books I was dying to read and books I knew I wanted to read eventually, but kept putting off for easier ones. Enter the book chart.

The Chart of DorkinessI made a list in excel of all the books I owned that I hadn’t read yet, but wanted to.  I had a column of titles. I had a column of authors. I had a column of how many pages the actual book is because I once took a big, fat Ayn Rand novel on a trip, only to end up with nothing to read on the long ride home because it was actually a novella with her entire manuscript with her handwritten notes on it printed in the back. Presumably meant for people who don’t find her as repugnant as I do. (Beeteedubs, can we take a second and talk about how much I hate her? What kind of person actually says that altruism is bad? Ugh. All the people these days who practically worship her completely confound me.)

I went to, and got a randomized sequence of the number of books I had (300ish), reorganized my list according to that sequence, and began reading the books in that order. I printed it out, and every time I finish a book, I cross it off and write the date. I also have an account at to write reviews of them. Any new books get added to the end. I first did this almost exactly three years ago, and I finished a page and a half on my chart. But, the new books got too long and too focused on the couple of subjects my interest in books seems to be narrowing on, so I re-randomized. Because I am weird enough to want a properly randomized books-to-read list.

Despite it’s eccentricity, I really like this system. It keeps me from reading all the way through the books that sound the most interesting by their covers and then ending up with shelves full of books I’m avoiding. I also think that reading a lot of books about the same subject in order, which would be my natural tendency, can feel redundant, whereas reading the same books with other things in between can yield surprising insights into both subjects.

The LibraryAnd then there are the bookshelves. It’s both K and me who do it, and both The Artist and The Architect make fun of us for it. That picture above is of our awesome library/reading corner/guest bedroom in the living room. Before I get into the book organization scheme, I thought I’d make an aside about all the cool stuff you can see in our library. On the top left is one of the Architect’s models of a ski loft he designed in school. The small round art was painted by the Architect’s best friend. The Moroccan lantern is one of K’s favorite things. SAM_1713The little white table I like to call the Marshmallow Lilypad after my favorite TV couple, since it is actually a porcelain stool made out of lilypad shapes that looks like a marshmallow. The Architect made the Don Quixote by cutting out the white paper and putting it on a black background. And finally, the Architect ALSO made the Dulcimer for me when we were in high school. Have I mentioned that I have an extremely talented husband?

Finished booksThese days, K and I are trying to limit ourselves to just these two bookshelves. The first is all the books we’ve read before and want to keep around. Our all-time favorites like The Universe StoryThe Little PrinceLooking for Alaska, and American Gods. That shelf is organized by height and spine color. Because it’s pretty.

The other shelf is organized in a way that is more complicated, and is based on our book charts. K has a list, too, but she’s reading her books in alphabetical order to randomize instead of peculiarly using a random number generator like I do. The top shelf is the books on my to-read list, but not hers. Either she’s already read them, or isn’t interested. The second and part of the third shelves are the books still on both of our to-read lists. And the bottom 2.5 shelves are the books on K’s to-read list, but not mine. Bookshelf with notesIt’s much bigger because she’s in grad school and has so many books about the Maya. Each section is shelved in alphabetical order by title to make finding books easier.

The Artist and the Architect make fun of us because of how many times we took all of the  books off the shelves and reorganized to get to this system that works for us. Originally, I wanted to have my books on the shelf in the randomized order, but there was no way to make sense of it with the middle section of shared to-read books. So we ended up with this silly three times alphabetized books.

I dunno. I guess most people probably have one thing they’re way more particular about than most other things. The Architect’s is where the dishes go in the cabinet. K and I don’t ever put dishes away anymore. We will inevitably do it wrong, and then the Architect will actually take the dishes out and put them back where he likes them. What about you guys? Any things you’re weirdly particular about organizing?


4 thoughts on “My Weird and Dorky Book Chart

  1. You are so organized. The thing that bugs me the most is people not closing the pantry doors. Also I want to say that “hate” is a strong word. I’m sure you mean you hate what she wrote and not the person herself. That is just Mom talking and reminding you that you don’t hate people you may not like what they do. I love you.

  2. You are amazing. This definitely made me smile so much, and I think it’s a really good idea. All these systems made complete sense to me though, so I might be a bit biased.

    I just cleaned out my bookshelves of all the books I had been meaning to read but hadn’t got to yet and put them in my classroom because I figure someone might as well read them in the meantime!

    I miss you and all your wonderfulness!

  3. I’ve tried various systems like yours and I never keep up with them. If there was a moratorium on book publishing for a year or two to let me catch up I might have hope. I also find myself stuck on a subject and you might have a point about putting space between them. But not too long! Finally, I must say that I refused to read Ayn Rand knowing that I would hate her. I read Atlas Shrugged this past winter and thought it was fascinating!!! A woman I work with said “Don’t read it! People read it and get weird!” Ha ha!

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