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BY HECTOR TOBAR
Los Angeles Times
My first resolution for 2013 is one many bibliophiles make. And it's also the resolution I'm least likely to complete to my satisfaction this year: I'm going to organize my book collection.
The other things on my list are easy: Finish a book? I've got just a few chapters left on the one I'm writing now, my fourth.
Keep off the weight I lost last year? With a little will power and lots of tofu and vegetables, that'll be a piece of cake.
The status of my book collection, however, is a very nearly unfixable disaster.
I own, I'm guessing, several hundred volumes--for many reasons, the exact size of my collection is unknowable.
My book collection is in a state of disorder many decades in the making.
I have books boxed and shelved in four different places.
More than once in the last few years, I've gone to a bookstore to buy a copy of a book I need and which I already own--but which I can't find, despite driving back and forth across L.A. to the places where my books live. (Anyone need a copy of "Song of Solomon"? I have three. I think.)
As you can imagine, then, it really makes me crazy when I read about all these famous authors and their beautifully organized book collections, and how much effort they put into organizing their shelf space.
"'You can tell how serious people are by looking at their books,'" Susan Sontag told the novelist Sigrid Nunez once, as we learned in a post on the Paris Review website.
"She meant not only what books they had on their shelves, but how the books were arranged," Nunez says. "Because of her, I arranged my own books by subject and in chronological rather than alphabetical order. I wanted to be serious."
By this definition, I am not serious. My books are in a haphazard, ad hoc arrangement that barely makes sense, even to me.
Most of my history books and biographies are at home. About half of the books I bought when I was in college and when I was a bachelor are in a storage facility.
Some of the books I've used in my work as a journalist are at my desk at the Los Angeles Times.