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The Well-Dressed Book


Spent yesterday afternoon in a bookstore, (Bookmamas, in Indianapolis' Irvington area, which you should definitely visit), where the books are arranged with admirable orderliness. I thought back to a pamphlet a friend once sent me: "Lunacy and the Arrangement of Books." How do you arrange yours?

I have several methods, none of which quite work.

#1: Alphabetical by illustrator's last name. Coming up with this device lets me find style & idea references in a jiffy. In this photo, the shelf is in disarray, the CDs are in transit to their real, eventual, home, and the Rolleiflex has fatal problems, but is an awesome bookend. The books, on the other hand, are at my service.
#2: Antique children's books, interspersed with family artifacts--one grandmother's nurse's cap and pin, one great-aunt's hand-painted teacup, another grandmother's sampler.
#3: Stacked by subject: books on the English language, mixed with books that make me think about the English language, and a fair smattering of antique children's books, on a collapsible oak bookcase, just in case you need your shelving portable.
#4: Shelved by subject, and the subject is: Mary's Faves. Obscure British mysteries, Narnia, Laura Ingalls Wilder, J. R. Tolkien and Kenneth Grahame. The fetching young man in the photo is Marvin, 'way back when I first knew him.
#5: Century-old oddities. "Rulers of the World at Home" is full of domestic photos of 1899 royalty. This is Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination prompted World War I. Stuff like this gives me insight AND goosebumps.
#6: Waiting-to-be-read, soup to nuts as far as subject matter. From Karoleena's Red Coat to Darwin's Black Box. On a bookcase I've had since high school.

Bookshelves are, to the bibliophile, what closets are to the clothes-horse. The well-dressed book needs the appropriate closet.



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