How to Organise 222 Unread Print Books

I own 222 unread print books. That number comes from Goodreads, but I feel it’s accurate. To ensure everything’s accounted for, I’m rather organised.

Recently, a pile of books collapsed from a gust of wind. Repiling them according to my chronological list, I realised two books weren’t on the list, mistakenly deleted at some stage. Unable to stand disorganisation for too long, I took the logical move.

I took every book off my shelf, and created a new list from scratch.

So if you want to organise a large quantity of books, here’s how I do it:

1. With pen and paper, inventory every book. This requires a lot of floor space to create piles. Stack alphabetically by author. When a particular author has several books, guess their order. The copyright page has the year. When an author has multiple releases from the one year, just guess. 100% accuracy is not required now, but it certainly helps.

2. On your list, note how many pages each book has. This is because I keep another list, ordered from least amount of pages to most. You know those challenges when you try to read so many books in a year? You’ll get more books read quicker if you read the shortest ones first. With varying font and page sizes, the order might not be entirely accurate by word count, but it’ll do.

3. Use the Internet to note each book’s original publication date. I use Amazon for US/CA books, Amazon UK for UK books, and Angus & Robertson for AU books.

4. Type up your handwritten pages. I use Notepad. (If I was smarter, I’d figure out how to use Excel, and cross-reference stuff, and organise books by author/release/pages, but I’ve forgotten everything I learned in high school.)

5. Cut and paste until your list is in chronological order of release date. When particular dates have more than one release, organise that day by pages. (That other list does come in handy.)

6. Making a new list, copy and paste until this new list in page number order. More than one book has 450 pages? Order by release date.

7. Save these files, and keep them updated with new additions, damn it! Because starting from scratch is a pain in the arse.

8. Stack your books onto shelves/piles. I use chronological order. Don’t just slap your books onto a pile – line them up neatly, and don’t stack them too high. This way they’re less likely to collapse. Where possible, keep out of reach of gusts of wind from open windows. Optional: Keep them away from pets or any human who’s naughty enough to mix up your precious order.

9. Choose a book to read. Once I’m done reading library books, I’ll move onto my own. I plan to read reverse chronologically, so when it comes to award season time, I’ll have read as many 2013 books as possible. (I actually don’t currently own any 2013 books, so it’s back to 2012.)

This is just my organisation, and yours may vary. I’ve heard some people organise by colour, but I’m left-brained so that’s out of my capabilities. If you try my method, and if it really works for you, be sure to let my ego know.

7 responses to “How to Organise 222 Unread Print Books

  1. I don’t organize by color, my reader brain can’t fathom that (I know some interior decorators recommend it but obviously they don’t read), but neither do I worry about pages or length. I do by genre, then within genre is alphabetical then by series and within series it’s chronological. I do use size so hardbacks in chronological order followed by GNs and trades then mpp, always always by series and chronological order. I do not have a written list other than my goodreads TBR shelf. Excell defeats me every time so for now, I’m stuck with goodreads.

    I redid every single bookcase and bookshelf this summer and boy did they need reorganizing. It also resulted in many books being pruned. :)

    • Genre is difficult for me to determine. Doesn’t help when publishers market something as urban fantasy, but when you read it you realise it’s clearly paranormal romance. Therefore, I organise by concrete things, not objective things ;-)

  2. I ignore what publishers say the genre is and decide for myself. That said, I have most varieties of fantasy on one bookcase and scifi on another, romance and mystery are on another bookcase and PNR is split between the two, depending on where I had room for a particular series.

    I’m not sure the particular system matters as much as actually having a system and that it works for you. My work bookcase and review bookcase look disorganized to most people but I can see the system and that’s all that matters. :)

  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    Mine is a little simpler > get iPhone, use barcode scanner in book organiser app to scan book, add any details that don’t automatically download > put book on shelf where it fits or add it to the pile on the floor LOL

  4. Wow, that’s a lot of work. I just pick a random book. ;)

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