Organize your shelves with lots of good books

Published 5:44 pm Friday, August 28, 2020

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Do you remember the scene in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” where Belle gets to see the castle’s library for the first time? She stares around the large room in wide-eyed amazement at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled to the brim with every volume and tome imaginable.

The animation in that scene is just lovely, but what was more memorable to me was the idea that someone could have that many books in their house. That was what I considered “living the dream” back in those days. In fact, I might could say that scene partially inspired me to collect so many books growing up. (Of course, the bigger reason was simply that I wanted to READ all those books… but the idea of having a super big library factored in too.)

I never did get a library room with floor-to-ceiling walls of books, but as I’ve been sorting through my collection recently, I realize that I never would have been good at organizing a whole library. My books are stashed everywhere: respectably on a bookshelf or my nightstand, not-so-respectably under my bed, or beside my bed, or in the corner of my bedroom. The books are like an encroaching sand dune, shifting farther and farther away from its original position by the winds of time.

As such, I often stick a book in a stack and forget about it. Sometimes, very regrettably, my books go “missing” for long periods of time. I had a collection of nonfiction essays by Lia Purpura from college that I really enjoyed reading. It took me two years to finally uncover it in a box of books I’d stuck under my bed. I also once spent an absurdly long amount of time looking for my copy of “The Elephant Vanishes”, a short story collection by Haruki Murakami. I only remembered later that I’d actually lent my copy to a friend after complaining to my friend that I couldn’t find the book.

But since I’ve been sorting through all of the books lately, I’ve been having a fun time digging up old favorites that I remember reading fondly years ago.

I found my copy of “The Klingon Dictionary” by Marc Okrand. As any self-respecting Star Trek fan, I immediately bought the book when I stumbled across it in a bookstore during college. I even used the text, which is mostly a grammar and pronunciation guide, to write an assignment about constructed languages for a class in college. I considered sitting down to give it a reread, but now’s not really the best time to brush up on speaking Klingon… because according to the pronunciation guide, there’s a lot of spitting involved! No, thank you, not in this pandemic.

I uncovered some of my favorite sci-fi stories I remember loving the first time I read them. There’s the short story collection “I, Robot” from Isaac Asimov, including his famous Three Laws of Robotics, which have been influential on later science fiction authors. There’s the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which you might know this story better by its movie adaptation entitled “Blade Runner”. There’s also the novella “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor, a somewhat newer (published in 2015) addition to the science fiction genre. A friend of a friend gave me the book and I remember being so intrigued by the story, I read the whole thing in one afternoon.

It should surprise no one (probably) that I’ve collected plenty of fantasy novels too. I remember hearing about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels in high school, amused by the premise of Discworld which is “a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle.” The first book I read featured a character which is literally just a sentient suitcase. That’s my kind of humor right there! Maybe I’ll jump back into reading this series sometime soon. Though I definitely do not have the full 41-book collection yet!

It’s been a fun trip going through all the books. There are several more I remember enjoying the first time (like the weird and pretentious horror series “Vampire Hunter D” written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano), and plenty I cannot remember at all (like, where did I get a copy of Christopher Priest’s “The Prestige” from?). There are so many books I’m excited to read for the first time (like a collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories that I’ve been letting collect just the right amount of dust to be thematically appropriate.)

I know you’re probably all thinking that I have too many books. And you’re probably right, but reading is one of my favorite hobbies. And we all like to invest in our hobbies, right? At least now I’ve been able to get the books all organized, even if it’s not in a magical library like Belle has.

But then again, I’ve already misplaced “The Klingon Dictionary” once more…

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.