One of the saddest things we did upon moving into our apartment here was pack away the majority of our books. We own many, many books. It is one of the few things in life that both Jeremy and I are willing to spend money on (we are also rabid library fans, but there's just something about having your very own copy of a favorite book). In our house in Tucson, we had something like seven bookshelves, all full to bursting.
Well, our apartment here doesn't have room for seven bookshelves, so we went through a Sophie's Choice of an afternoon where we separated the books into a "shelf" pile and a "store" pile (actually, there was a third pile, and it was "finally this book about [insert random, obscure language teaching issue] will be hogging room on the shelf in Jeremy's OFFICE instead of at home").
On the one hand, it's great to have a slim, sleek book collection on display contained in only three shelves. On the other, what if I suddenly need emergency access to my Food Science & Nutrition textbook from 2001, or Issue 664 of my Japanese Nonno magazine??
The vetting process was far from scientific. Jeremy went through a couple of boxes, I went through a couple of boxes, and when the shelves we had out were nearing capacity, we stopped. Here's what two of them looked like (the second didn't get a decent "before" picture):
Since we had already abandoned our normal system of separating the books on the shelves into categories (religion, classics, YA/children's books, foreign language, travel, dictionaries, etc.) by leaving most of our books in storage, I decided to throw caution to the wind and organize them by color.
I first heard of doing this from Miss Nemesis a few years back and it intrigued me. In a way, I was glad to be free of our rigid classification system so I could transform our boring bookshelves into this:
It was harder than I thought it would be because book covers are not always one color. The paperback Harry Potters gave me the most trouble with their oddly colored argyle patterns. I think I did an OK job, but I'm sure I will be refining it over the days to come. I want to get a better continuum of colors - I don't like how the second shelf kind of dies out in greys and blacks all of a sudden. I also think it would look better with more expansive shelves (and, of course, all those many colorful books that are now boxed up in the attic). It only took me a few minutes to get over the fact that this new arrangement creates a bizarre universe in which The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyrii belongs between Your Child's Self-Esteem and The Complete Novels of Jane Austen.
I think the biggest practical advantage of this system of shelving is that it is now so much easier to put away a book after reading because I don't have to stand there wondering, "Does this German Bible go under religion, or foreign language?" It just goes under "maroon," and that's all there is to it.