February 27, 2015

Happiness is a shelf full of color coded books

The fact that I didn’t know I wanted to be a Librarian until my mid (ok, late) thirties is a little mystifying. Aside from my lifelong obsession with books and libraries and the fact that I’ve been extraordinarily close to not one, not two, but three librarians in my life (none of whom were related to me), both of which could simply be symptoms of being a bibliophile, there were other clues. 
There was the whole, wanting to check my books out to my friends thing in Elementary school so I would know where there were, at all times, because I loved them (the books that it, I mean, I loved my friends obviously, but I didn’t need to know their every movement) – that idea, by the way, didn’t go down very well with my buddies, although I think they humored me for a while.  Also, there was that time when I got my first label maker and wanted to label and alphabetize everything in my house (Ah, all nice and organized).  There was also the naming of one of my children after a librarian in a movie - no, not the librarian from Ghostbusters, I wouldn’t do something that silly. (It was the one from the Mummy.)

And finally, there is my habit of color coding my books. Oh, I can already hear what you are going to say. “You do what?”  And you’re laughing, aren’t you? I know, it’s slightly crazy, but, BUT, it makes sense if you, like me, have the critical combination of owning shelves and shelves and shelves (and shelves) of books and having an odd form of photographic memory that allows me to remember what almost any book I own looks like (too bad that’s the only bit of photographic memory I have). So if, for example, your husband asks where the copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales is, you can say, "black, with green writing. Small bookshelf upstairs." And you’d be bang on the money.
Yes I know that’s not how libraries are organized, but barring the institution of Dewey in my house – which would combine my love for organizing books and my love of labeling things, but would probably be over the top – it’s be best way to keep all my beloved books in order. Plus, and here’s the kicker, it makes me happy. Stupidly, ridiculously happy. Probably my favorite house we’ve owned was the one in Charlottesville, because it had one long wall of floor to ceiling bookshelves, all color coded. (Almost) All of my books, all in one place, all in order. Stupid happiness. And no matter where we have moved, my weird color coding of book has gone with us, along with the ridiculous sense of happiness it brings me every time I go hunt for a book, or even walk past my shelves.
Trust me, I’ve gotten a lot of crap for it over the years. Our house was once in a magazine and someone commented online on my “asinine” color coding and speculated that it was only done for the spread and that no one would actually organize their books that way. Before I could respond, I was surprised to find multiple commenters claiming they had the same method for shelving their books. So while I might be a little crazy, at least I’m crazy in a group. (a very organized group). Will poked fun of it for years until he fell prey to its usefulness and started remembering books by colors too. People chuckle when they come over for dinner and ask, eyebrow cocked, why I would bother. But, as with many things that are done simply for the pleasure of it, the answer is still just “Because I like it that way. Because it makes me happy.”  I mean hey, I don’t understand why people run, but I try not to judge.

Although really? Wouldn’t it be more fun to stay home and read?

Just kidding.

Do what you makes you happy. Even if it’s simple. Even if it’s crazy.