This week, my husband Erik, son Sebastian, Erik’s sister Jill, and I made a trip to North Dakota State University in Fargo to see my son Ian’s final senior art show. He exhibited his work along with several other students in what is known as the Baccalaureate exhibit.
We got a sneak peek of Ian’s work some months ago during a smaller exhibit, so we knew that the project he was attempting was ambitious. The final result was so overwhelming that upon seeing it, I promptly burst into tears.
I knew how much work Ian had put into it, but it was more than that. Ian is one of those rare people who find their strong calling early in life and just keep working at it, getting so good that they blow people away with their skill. While he has always had a natural talent for art, he has also earned his expertise. My mother’s (and artist’s) pride burst right from me when I saw “Saga” in its full 10-feet high by 18-feet wide glory. Ian is truly an inspiration to me.
The Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange posted a link to a poll on Facebook. The poll was about genrefication of a fiction collection. I had to click over to learn more, like what the heck genrefication is.
Genrefication is the arrangement of books in a large collection by genre … i.e. all the mysteries go together, all the romances go in another section, etc. … rather than using the Dewey Decimal System. Remember that arcane alpha-numerical mumbo-jumbo? While nonfiction is grouped together roughly by topic in the Dewey Decimal System, fiction is typically arranged by author’s last name and title, rather than by genre.
In looking at CMLE’s poll, I found that it was aimed at school librarians. Apparently genrefication for the fiction collections of libraries is a new thing. However, this isn’t a new thing for those of us with large personal collections of books.
I took a few photos of my home library to show you what I’ve been doing for years.
Apparently, we mere mortals have been genrefying our book collections.
I don’t collect as much fiction as I do nonfiction, so here’s where my genrefication gets a little weird. Mostly, I collect literary fiction, which doesn’t really have a specific genre, so I put all books by the same author together. I have this strange thing about how I place books with disturbing subjects on my shelves. This is what I told CMLE on its Facebook post:
“If I have a horror book, I’m very careful about the books I put on either side of it. I use “buffer” books, books that are serious but not scary, to buffer the horror book from other types of books.”
The second photo is a close-up of the lower shelf in the photo above. From left to right, there’s Brenda Ueland’s “Strength to Your Sword Arm,” “Little Women,” “The Secret Garden,” a book of poetry by Emily Dickinson, “The Great Gatsby,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “In Cold Blood,” George Orwell’s “1984,” “Frankenstein,” and an Edgar Allan Poe collection. To the right of Poe is a book of short stories.
I count the books from “In Cold Blood” through Poe to be disturbing. The buffer I’m using on the right of Poe is the short story book. The buffer I’m using on the left of “In Cold Blood” is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Why? Because Harper Lee was friends with Truman Capote and both that book and “The Great Gatsby” are buffering the more serious books from the children’s books.
How did I develop this system? I have no idea. It’s just what I do and it wasn’t until CMLE asked about genrefication that I even thought about it.
How do you arrange the books in your home library?
I ran across an interesting article the other day. It’s from Bloomberg Businessweek and is called Bohemian Today, High-Rent Tomorrow. It discusses the phenomenon of artists moving into low-rent districts, fixing them up and making them cool, which then leads to more economic development, which then makes the districts high-rent, forcing out the artists who brought them back to life.
I’ve seen this written about many times and I’m not sure why more communities aren’t fostering this for economic development. Maybe if it’s forced … “Say, you, there, artist! Move into this crappy neighborhood and fix it up so we can make a buck!” … it won’t work the same way. At the very least, if communities could provide encouragement when artists adopt a place, perhaps these economic revivals would happen more frequently.
I’m Stealing Like an Artist and Showing My Work. Stealing from Austin Kleon, of course, in that I’ve decided to take advice from his book “Show Your Work!” to build a website that showcases my work. In his book, which is a lovely, approachable short and inspirational read (just like his book, “Steal Like an Artist“), he suggests building a good (domain) name and sharing the process of one’s work on that domain.
My online home for the past number of years has been The Woo Woo Teacup Journal. While I used the site primarily to feature my writing and expound upon whatever was going through my head, I have long sensed that the blog didn’t really reveal the breadth of my artistic talents. Plus, the name, which was chosen because there are a ton of Mary Warners online, strikes me as something that isn’t taken seriously. Yes, I have a wacky side, but that’s not my only side. After discussion with my husband and a domain name search, I purchased maryewarner.com. Thankfully, it was available.
In case it isn’t readily apparent, my current work-in-progress is this website. Please forgive any glitches as I am building it while it’s live.