Now as a Library Professional, I am accustomed to placing books on shelves either in Alphabetical or Dewey Decimal System order. At home I have a more ad hoc style, despite Holly trying to organise me several years ago. There are numerous systems – by colour, by genre, by size, by date of publication, alphabetically either by Author or Title . . .
John Crace seems to have studied people’s bookshelves and these are his observations :
The literary snob – Old Penguins, heavily creased to denote re-reading, are lined up in rows of orange, black and grey. These can be bought by the yard at most secondhand bookshops, and are a very easy way of acquiring instant intellectual credibility.
The David Cameron – Books by important members of the new Tory World Order are prominently displayed where they can be seen by everyone. Acolytes can ascertain how close to power they are by the position of their own books.
The Jeffrey Archer – Shelf after shelf of your own book in every imaginable translation and edition – frequently in multiples of 10. Come to think of it, this applies to almost ever author I know.
The ‘I’m desperate for a shag’, male version – Must include prominent copies of The Golden Notebook and The Second Sex and any dreary rubbish by Ian McEwan lying around to show you are in touch with your sensitive side. Best to hide any well-thumbed copies of Belle du Jour and La Vie Sexuelle by Catherine M under the bed.
The kleptomaniac – Easy. You just arrange your books in accordance with the numbering system of the library from which you nicked them. (You may notice some books on my shelves with crossed out library labels – I PROMISE these were bought from discarded book sales!)