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9:54 a.m. - September 16, 2005
My Books Are Driving Me Crazy!

I want to write today about something of great importance. Something that digs down deep to the core of what I’m all about.

Take a look at these pictures.

Those are the built in bookcases in our house, and they are full of books as you see. (As opposed to a bookcase full of knick-knacks, or a briefcase full of blues, but I digress.)

But there’s something wrong, something terribly wrong with them.

The bookcases are lovely, yes. They are a great improvement over the faux oak bookcases we had in our old house. (We gave them to the son of our realtor, mainly because we didn’t want to move them and they were only like $100 each.)

Our ceiling is 11-feet tall, so there’s plenty of size to them, so that’s not the issue. A great majority of my books fit in them. I have an auxiliary bookcase upstairs for my MBA books and other trifles.

No, the problem is simple.

My books are out of order.

Seriously, I can’t find what I’m looking for.

This all came to a head recently. I was testing some CDs I made for a friend, and on the mix the song “A Saucerful of Secrets” by Pink Floyd (the live version off Ummagumma, soon to be the topic of an essay on its own) came up. I wanted to find my Pink Floyd Encyclopedia to see what venue that was recorded at, and when.

It took me 10 minutes to find the dang thing.

When we moved, Liz decided just to unpack the book boxes one day and put them on the shelves. That was fine by me, as I could rearrange them during a rainy or snowy day.

But we moved in December. It’s now August. There has been no rearranging.

My books are out of order.

Now, this is a classic case of OCD. Sure, I’ll admit it. But don’t you want your books in order?

I’m not talking putting them in Dewey Decimal System order, or even in the Library of Congress Classification system.

(An aside – one of you librarians help me – I learned the Dewey Decimal System early on, and it was drilled into my cranium – but when I got to college the college library used the Library of Congress system. Why can’t every library use the same system? Is it that hard?)

But they’re out of order.

It would be simple to put them in order. Liz has most all of the fiction. She has some favorite authors (Toni Morrison, for example) which are easily grouped together. She also has a lot of short story anthologies which I can put together. In her working life she accumulated a lot of financial books, and she also has some gardening books and books on Victorian houses.

I have more of a sprawl, but they’re easily classifiable. I have some history books, especially about World War I. I can put the book about the Popes with the book about the Kings of England. I can put Hunter S. Thompson in that section as well. (It’s kind of a history, isn’t it?)

I have almost the entire collection of Bloom County, and I can put those with my Far Side, Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes and my collection of Peanuts books. (I’m collecting those wonderful books that have every strip from Peanuts from 1950 onward and I always look forward to when the new volume is released.)

I have several sports books, mostly about baseball. And my baseball books are either about statistics, or the history of baseball. My passion is baseball in the 19th century, where the characters are almost unreal, yet fascinating the same. Last year, there was a book released about the history of statistics in baseball. Yes, I almost had to change my underwear!

I have many books about music (Really, I do!) I have big thick books of record reviews. I have a lot of books on the Beatles. I have some books on the Beach Boys, and books about alternative music and punk rock.

So really, it would be easy to take the time and rearrange the bookshelves.

But I haven’t taken the time.

Why not, you say?

I could take the easy way out and blame the kids. Sure, Katie and Kristin do take time. But there’s naptime. Or you can just throw Maisy (Maisy Maisy Maisy Mouse – now I’ll be singing that damn song all day) on the Tivo for Katie and set Kristin in a bouncy seat while you are rearranging the books.
You could do this when the kids are in bed and you’re on your butt watching Survivor or an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that you’ve seen three times already. (You know, the one where Stabler almost goes berserk? Yeah, that one!)

I normally make the excuse that I have books I haven’t read yet, that I want to be sure to read before I file them away.

I have these books I need to read. Not exactly light reading, either. But my brain was kind of mush all summer so these just sat in a pile:

“A Peace to End All Peace” by David Fromkin – about the Middle East after World War I
“Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond – I finished “Collapse” this year and thought it was great.
“The World Is Flat” by Thomas Friedman – I finished “Freakonomics” in a day and a half and it piqued my interest.
“The Coming of the Third Reich” by Richard Evans.

But that’s not a valid argument, either, because I have these books IN the shelves that I haven’t read.

“Europe – A History” by Norman Davies. This thing is about 65,219 pages.
“Utopia In Power” by Heller and Nekrich- This is about the Soviet Union and was written in the 80’s. I started it a long time ago and put it down when I moved somewhere.
“The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich” – by William Shirer. Eagle eyes will note that I have two books about Hitler and the Nazis and have yet to read them. I did read a book about Stalin (no serenade, no fire brigade, it’s megalomania!) this year, though. So the score right now is Fascists 2, Commies 2 as we move the the fourth.
“The Myth of the Great War” by John Mosier.
“The First World War” by John Keegan. Another one I have started in fits and starts.

I guess it’s just pathetic that I’m complaining about something that is totally my fault and totally in my control. I can fix this so it doesn’t bug me. I can!

So why don’t I get off my butt this weekend and arrange my books?

I don’t know. Would you like to help? I’ll buy the beer.


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