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Before you say “Huh? Who cares?” let me point out the color-coded book design trend of the past few years:

books organized by color

It’s nothing new, and I hadn’t really thought much about it one way or the other until Mr. K texted me to ask if I’d read Watership Down, and do we have a copy? Yes, I replied, and Maybe. Then I did what I always do when I need to look for a book: I pictured it. Mass market size, beige cover gone yellow, tattered spine, no back cover. I did a mental scan of our bookshelves, zeroed in on the shelf with the older paperbacks, and headed for the porch. Bingo!

I may locate books by color and size but I shelve by type and sentiment. Favorite books my father read to me, the novel I loved at age 10, a vintage picture book from my mom, a poetry book that made me laugh so hard I snorted the first time I read it: Top shelf, all grouped together and guarded by my vintage toy sewing machine, where they are safe from kids and cats, yet easy for me to reach.

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Poetry books, middle shelf, leftish. The kids’ picture books, second shelf, where they can easily find and sort them. Mr. K’s books, middle shelf, left and right. Home repair, sewing, gardening, and other reference books: living room, bottom shelf. Older titles that are falling apart but I don’t want to toss until I replace them with sturdier copies: porch. Which is where I found Watership Down.

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So….Watership in hand, I thought that, since I locate books by color, I should try this color-sorting thing. I started with red and quickly had to abandon ship. Ack! My leather-bound Lord of the Rings trilogy was on the same shelf with Charles Schwab. No, no, no, no, NO.

Back to shelving by type and sentiment for me. Makes no sense to anyone else (“Oh, that’s just fiction. Favorite fiction is over here.”) but I always know where my books are. You’d think a former bookseller would alphabetize, right? No. Too time consuming. Besides, just tell me what book you’re looking for, and I’ll tell you what the cover looks like.