Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

How Do You Organize Your Books?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on November 20, 2010

I’m sure most people who have enough to be worth organizing, group them by subject. But how to you manage when those groupings become unwieldy?

My favorite anecdote is from the late Alastair Cooke, who most people remember from hosting Masterpiece Theater on PBS. Back before World War II, Cooke came to the U.S. as a BBC correspondent, submitting a weekly segment on the United States for listeners in the U.K. He kept this gig for many years, and in the process, accumulated a huge personal library of books on the U.S. He had an enormous set of bookshelves, covering an entire wall, and sorted his books as if the shelves were a map — books on New England on the upper right, Texas at the bottom in the center, and California on the (cough!) far left. Classically simple, utterly practical.

So how do you organize your books?


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2 Responses

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  1. John Cummings said, on November 20, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    For the most part, chronological by epoch. However, when dealing with specialized studies such as arms and equipment, photography, projectiles, archaeology and so forth, those get grouped together by subgroup in seperate bookshelves from the main flow of history. Naval history is its own section, not integrated with other military studies. Biographies are arranged alphabetically. Lincoln has his own section. Political studies are grouped as best can be done by emphasis and or partisan leanings, as are sociological subjects such as industry and labor, education, gender, race and slavery. Generalized studies, collections and multi volume works hang out together too.

  2. Scott Manning said, on November 23, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I think I’m very similar to John. Most of my books fit into chronological categories – Ancient Greece, Hellenistic Age, Ancient Rome, Medieval Period, etc. Within those categories, I’ll continue to group. For example, in the medieval section, I have Byzantium, Crusades, Hundred Years War, etc. Then I have general books on military history, philosophy (e.g., Sun-Tzu, Clausewitz).


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