Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Can Go Twice As High

I try to be all casual with my books, but I can't help thinking that from now on they should be categorized by color instead of intentionally haphazard favoritism. You know what I mean: the top two shelves are bursting with the books that are the best, but they're staggered by size and color and age and binding to give the appearance of carefree, random shelvism when in fact each book was strategically planted next to another that provided a surprising and instantly approved juxtaposition, proving I am eclectic, blithe and approachably worldly. I mean, could you imagine how preposterous I would look if my bookshelves indicated I was snobbishly elite, or even worse - vapid and fatuous? I know. I know, right? omg lolz.

The first thing I do when I get to someone's house is cruise their books, and then I judge them mercilessly. So of course I have to prepare myself for the day when I come over to my own house and realize how much insight I can offer to the human condition because my book collection is intuitively brilliant.

Browsers (the few) always comment on Breakfast of Champions, so it's front and center. Probably because they're jealous. My copy is very hip and vintage, with a faded cover and green-painted edges. If I ever write a book, I will demand green-painted edges on the pocketnovel edition or fucking mutiny.

Immediately after BoC you'll find Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet because I am sciencey, serious, and smart; then Gods of Pegana, which no one has ever heard of because I'm obscure as fuck; The Martian Chronicles for irony; Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood because I am edgy, liberal and interested in relevant history; Mr. Popper's Penguins because I am fun-loving and adorable; and a horizontal stack of comic books and National Geographic(s) because I am well-varied in my media sources, which is something I learned to do at my small liberal arts college. Oh, and it's capped with an old, peeling globe that still has Soviet Russia on it that sits on top of a thesaurus which I promise I did not use for this post.

So after enjoying this carefully constructed representation of self on a shelf for a few years, it's time for change. Placing so much effort on ensuring my favorite books are seen initially by apartment guests is neurotically fascist. As someone who's always gone for seeming intelligence over aesthetic appeal, people could think I am - dare I say it? - pompous. The nerve. Two-years-ago era me would crack her knuckles and snicker at their misguided inference.

2011 era me thinks that putting so much thought into things is tiresome. Perhaps I should be more accepting regarding stupid stuff. The majority of people in the world don't put a quarter of this effort into their bookshelf coordination. The majority of people in the world don't even have a fucking bookshelf to coordinate.

I am an ass. People in Haiti need houses. I read about it in National Geographic.

Now that imaginary bullshit people think I'm pompous, fucking posers, I came to the realization that everyone likes things that are pretty. Since I'm more comfortable changing the order of my books than my appearance, I think it's time to color-code the bookshelves. Like a reading rainbow.


* For the record, I strongly oppose the Mr. Popper's Penguins film adaptation because I can't stand Jim Carey and everything should star Tom Hardy. Everything.



Kono said...

Is this like reading tea leaves? my first row is only four authors, Henry Miller, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Albert Camus/ Franz Kafka.
Row 2- Ray Carver/ Larry Brown/ Roberto Bolano/ Nelson Algren/ David Benioff/ Rory Nugent/Don Carpenter.
Row 3- Bukowski/ Fante/ Jim Thompson/ Ellroy/ Enrique Vila-Matas/ Willy Vlautin/ Irvine Welsh and some misc.
Row 4 starts coming undone with Fyodor Dos/ Hans Fallada/ Markus Zuzak/ Joe Heller/ Michel Houellbecq/ Arthur Koestler/ Orwell/ Will Self/ Cormac McCarthy/ Salinger/ Genet/ Burroughs and Breese DJ Pancake...
man i'm a pretentious and pompous prick or in the word's of Mark E. Smith a Prole Art Threat.

Rassles said...

And you read my blog? Gah.

If we're going to be name dropping some bitches, I could name drop some bitches, but mine aren't nearly as existential and name-droppy and haughty as yours Kono, daaaaaaamn. No Gore Vidal?

I keep Bukowski, Kafka, Herman Hesse, Camus, and Harry Potter in my bedroom. They are not to be shared, nor bragged about. They are my secrets.

Jane said...

My books are organized in a kind of obsessive, though I don't think exactly "pompous", way. There's the shelf with the comic books, the sci-fi, the LOTR. Then there's a shelf for just Harry Potter and Terry Goodkind's books, because I have enough of that together, they take up a whole shelf. Then there's a general fiction shelf. There's a shelf that is half religious/"God isn't real" texts (that includes the Bible, the Quran, and Richard Dawkins books), and then half smutty vampire romance novels (the ones "True Blood" is based off of). [That shelf makes me laugh, because I think the two sets of books prove ironic in relation to each other, but in different ways, depending on which set you see first. Do you know what I mean?] Then there's the general non-fiction shelf, where I keep all my nerdy science books, political books, biographies of Teddy Roosevelt, and cookbooks.

On the bottom shelves (there's two bookshelves here) are my old school/college notebooks (because I'm a big nerd, and I've kept all of them) and my board games.

Also, within the shelves themselves, the books are in height order, with the tallest books on either end. Because putting all the tall books on one end just looks silly.

Ok, I'm going to go away and stop being crazy now... :-p

Rassles said...

You're not crazy, because I'm just as nuts. I refuse to group books by author or genre unless the series of consecutive spines are pretty in a row, like Pullman or Joe Abercrombie. I make sure Dumas is sandwiched between Kavalier and Clay and Nabokov because they contradict each other and all give me the same feeling in my guts: that I am gutless.

Never fear. I will not judge your height organization.

Rassles said...

And I do this when I go to people's houses: I look at their books and try to determine what they were thinking when they placed them in a particular order.

(Kono, I keep on reading your comment and you are blowing my mind)

MoLinder said...

my books are grouped by author but there's isn't any rhyme or reason as to how i decide which author goes next to another. right now i'm looking at one of my top shelves and it has "leaves of grass" next to "heart of darkness" and these are above the shelf that houses my sookie stackhouse collection. although this type of organization could create the impression that i am eclectic or something, i basically unpacked my boxes and shoved shit where it would fit. laziness rules.
i too am unhappy with this popper's penguin BS with jim carrey.
and yes, tom hardy should be in everything. check out masterpiece theater's "wuthering heights". you know how much i hate this book but the MT's version of it is awesome. hardy is a sexy beast as heathcliffe.

Kono said...

You, my dear Rossi, if i may call you that are one of the only blogs i read that i actually enjoy, you make me laugh and think and the other day Lil Nick Disaster (amateur mischievor) was sitting on my lap and i pulled up your sight and he immediately pointed at the dinosaurs and started clapping and saying in his ridiculously sweet voice dino-saw.

JMH said...

Without looking (and you'll have to trust me here), I'm going to list the seventh through eleventh (7-11 sandwiches are the best, especially if they've been sitting for a few days) books from the left on the top shelf of my bookshelf. Okay, here goes:

7) Breaking Open the Head - Daniel Pinchbeck
8) The Man with the Golden Arm - Nelson Algren
9) The Kite Runner - Khalid Hosseini
10) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
11) Earth House Hold - Gary Snyder

Wow, I did well I think, maybe a bit druggie. Drugs are bad, m'kay.

JMH said...

FYI - I'd like you to pronounce the word "druggie" DREW-gee. It's funny not because I'm on drugs, but because it's a new pronunciation of an old word.

Okay, I'm on bourbon, which is a pretty socially acceptable drug in the South. It's delicious. Can't argue with that.

Diary of Why said...

Am trying not to let Kono's later comment get to me, I mean, ouch, though it is true that I don't have dinosaurs.

But Rassles, now you have me wondering, how do I organize my books, and why did I put them in that particular order? Given that I am a transient and a minimalist and also cheap, I have barely any books at all here, though I do often cry over the ones in boxes in basements, somewhere, and I dream of our reunion one day. But I only have the one shelf of books here, and it goes, in order, Salman Rushdie, TC Boyle, Dalai Lama, Proust, poetry, David Sedaris, Salinger, Steinbeck, Tom Robbins, and some French scholarly muckity muck. And yeah, I just realized that they're arranged from big to small. Arranging by color baffles me, though I suppose it makes at least as much sense as doing it by size. Who knew this question would be so provocative?

nursemyra said...

I house my books according to the Dewey Decimal system. Because I'm as anal as fuck about my reading matter.

Del-V said...

I hate bookshelves. They are like trophy cases for brain athletes. My feeling is if you read a book and you liked it, pass it on to a friend. Let someone else enjoy it too. Keeping all your books on a bunch of dusty shelves is selfish.

Miss Ash said...

I totally do this too. Though I'll never EVER admit to it.

In fact, I'm so like this I started a BOOK BLOG.

I'm trendy like that.

renalfailure said...

And all I do is group my books by author, not by what people will think of me when they spot it on my bookshelf. Same with my DVD's. I bought the damn things, I will stand by those purchases. My media collection will not yield to the expectations of others!

Rassles said...

MoL: Liar. You totally group them by size as well. I know, I lived with you for two years. (Didn't we watch Wuthering Heights together? Or did I watch it with Liz?)

Kono: Awwww shucks, Kone. Psst: You're easily one of my top favorites.

JMH: I love The Man With the Golden Arm, and I shelve it next to The Man With the Golden Gun. And Droogie. You got it. Fooking drooogies.

Rach: I am sure Mr. Kono includes you in his favorites, too. See, it's very important, how you organize your books. You need to make sure people assume things you want them to assume. Otherwise when they get it wrong you'll feel immense gobs of guilt just gooping all over you - I overestimated his ability to draw conclusions. He must not be as smart as me. Dammit, stop it, you fucking idiot. You are not smart. He is above you in every way because he doesn't care about things like this. Pah. And you thought it was a lack of intelligence. Hurry, tell him he's smart or the guilt will take over, and then just tell him to look at your books and explain your neuroses under the guise of a hilarious story so you're making conversation instead of just being a fucking ritard.

Nurse: that doesn't surprise me. In my brain, you have a circular library with a track rolling ladder that houses only sexy biographies and manuals on doing it.

Del-V: Stop being a hater.

Ash: Now you have to tell us your order and break it down. You have to. Or at least tell me.


Rassles said...

Also, my DVDs are not organized at all. Box sets are together and the rest is actually set at random. Honest abe.

MoLinder said...

i am not a liar. you will see when you get here that my books are random goddamnit! and you're the liar - your burned dvds are arranged in their books - one for movies, one for tv shows. so yeah, you do employ some form of organization.

mynamesnotbarbara said...

I alphabetize my fiction. Does that make me too vanilla?

However, my nonfiction? That's in the living room and is entirely based on perception.

Murr Brewster said...

I'm banking on the idea that if I leave my new giant honking Mark Twain autobiography open next to my chair, no one will notice that all I have in my bookshelves is reference books and hiking guides.

Chris said...

BoC is the best book ever. And I mean fucking ever!