I’m currently staying as a guest of the Book Trade Charity in a bungalow at their Retreat in Kings Langley, which is just outside of London. As I was being shown around my new living quarters my host directed his gaze to the bookshelves (two large, two small) and sadly remarked at how they were no longer kept in alphabetical order, and their contents were pushed to the back, not pulled all in line at the front. As I looked I noticed that many of the novels were upside down, and audio books had been placed sporadically within this disorganised library. The carpet had recently been replaced, that was the issue. And the carpet layer had put the books where he could, and in a hurry.
I gain great enjoyment from organising books. There have been many times when I have devoted the better part of a day to tidying up my own bookshelves and so I eagerly offered to organise my host’s. I was told not to worry, it wasn’t too much of a concern but, judging by his description of how he usually keeps his library, and unable to restrain my perfectionism and itchy fingers, I resolved to find the time to alphabetise and stack and align.
And so it was that I found myself sitting cross legged on the living room floor last Sunday evening, cup of tea in hand and a largely devoured tiramisu melting on the coffee table, sorting books into piles by surname.
At home my books are collected into groups by author, but each shelf has a loose category assigned to it. The bottom shelf is the most neglected as a chair is partially in the way; here is Young Adult fiction that I rarely pick up anymore and also oversized books that never look quite right next to regularly sized novels. One shelf up from this is overflow of Young Adult fiction and overflow of classic fiction, general fiction, poetry. I should make it clear that I myself don’t organise alphabetically, but by colour. I’m partial to a visual uniformity in the layout of my collection and, by categorising in this way, the spines tend to be aligned and separate shelves tend to share a certain colour grouping.
I can imagine many people cringing at how I organise my books but, unfortunately, I have quite a limit on space and my books are also stacked in front of each other, on top of one another and horizontally…I know, I know; it’s awful. But, I assure you; it is neat and does at least make people want to delve into the shelves to see what mystery lies within.
A few days after this I went for a meal with both David and Glenda, who run the charity. We talked at length about literature – of course – and I mentioned that I had tidied up the bookshelves. They laughed. ‘I didn’t think you’d be able to resist!’ said David. His hunch had been correct; what reader, writer, book aficionado can escape the draw of a mound of books waiting to be touched? Not me, that’s certain.
The Book Trade Charity supports those who have worked in the book trade for more than twelve months. They also support those finding employment in the Book Trade. There are certain eligibility requirements but for those students or graduates who need aid towards beginning their perfect career the charity may be able to help. They have certainly helped me to have a fantastic time at John Blake Publishing.
Visit The Book Trade Charity Website here