June 08, 2007

Random Bibliophilic Noodling

Steel Bonnets.jpg

So I'm starting in on George MacDonald Fraser's Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers, a history of flat out Social Darwinism in its bloodiest form, and a nagging thought has planted itself in my mind.

You see, my library has two sets of shelving, one on each side of the room. I keep all of my fiction on one side and all of my non-fiction on the other. (I also try to break things down further by author, chronology, subject matter and other criteria.) I happen to have a great many books by Fraser (the full set of Flashman Papers and a few other works), but Steel Bonnets is the only non-fiction book of his I own.

This poses a bit of a puzzle.

If I put this book with all the other Frasers, I violate the fiction/non-fiction split.

On the other hand, if I put this book over on the non-fiction side (in the European History section), I'll violate the rule about keeping all of a given author's works together.

One solution I thought of was to purchase some other of Fraser's non-fiction works, the better to balance things out. The trouble is that most of what's available concerns his WWII service in Burma and his time as a writer in Hollywood. Even though this is non-fiction, it still wouldn't fit into the 16th Century shelf.

Another solution is simply to leave Steel Bonnets among the floating collection of volumes scattered all over the various tables in the library. These surfaces represent a kind of uncatalogued Sargasso Sea of whatever I happen to be dipping into at the moment. The trouble here is that the Missus has recently started making waves about the number of books lying about. (She and I have very different opinions on whether a "cluttered" library is a good thing.) I fear that if I leave SB out, I might walk in some day to find that it's been tidied into oblivion.

What to do, what to do.

Oh, and speaking of this book, which has to do with lawless, might-makes-right savagery and terror, what do you suppose the odds are that Joss Whedon had these folks in mind, at least to some extent, when he named his own Reivers for in the Firefly series?

Posted by Robert at June 8, 2007 01:46 PM | TrackBack

Goodness, lad. You need much bigger concerns in your life. Or have more children. Or practice having more children. Do something.

Posted by: tdp at June 8, 2007 02:22 PM

Heck, it's the end of the year at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. I dunno how it is for other academic spouses out there, but I haven't really even seen the Missus all week.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 8, 2007 03:42 PM

As a professional librarian it is my considered opinion that a (at least semi-) cluttered home library is a good thing. Books are meant to be read, not lined up like trophies. The young ladies in the house should see books lying around, ready to be picked up at a moment's notice -- heck they may even be tempted to pick one up themselves, even if the reading level is above their ability at the moment.

Posted by: rbj at June 8, 2007 04:55 PM

My categories are soemwhat different -- I classify books as either Sacred or Profane; my Bibles, missals, Lectio Divina, and Liturgy of the Hours have their own bookshelf; everything else gets put into the main bookshelf haphazardly. I need to go through and either sell or give away about 100 books this year, too, as the collection is way too big.

Posted by: The Colossus at June 10, 2007 07:49 AM

A good read!!!!

It don't matter where you file it as long as you've read it

Posted by: john at June 10, 2007 02:56 PM

I don't know what the best place to file it is, but obviously you need to completely refile your entire book collection. Preferably by something useless, like date of publication, to completely change everything.

Posted by: owlish at June 10, 2007 04:54 PM

Obviously, Robert, your organizational strategy is hopelessly flawed, as you've just discovered. The only way it would work is if all authors stuck to fiction or non-fiction with no crossover.

If you want to preserve your library's layout, the solution is simple: Throw Steel Bonnets in the trash and be mindful not to get yourself in this bind again. Or, you could just organize everything by author, and subdivide each author's work into fiction and non-fiction.

Alternately, you could get a life.

Posted by: Hucbald at June 10, 2007 11:07 PM