Wednesday, October 23, 2019

shelf abuse

We recently had to get an electrician in to sort out some dodgy wiring, and the location of the fault turned out to be above the main light fittings in the lounge, or, to put it another way, under the floorboards in our bedroom. This was not great news, as our bedroom, like everyone else's, is a bit of a mess of piles of children's books, discarded clothing and countless Tesco carrier bags full of our own decomposing faeces.

More importantly the bit of carpet that needed to be rolled back sat under my bookshelves, so we were faced with the unpalatable prospect of having to dismantle them. But, no use sitting around crying and generally dilly-dallying, what must be done must be done. And in fact it was a less onerous job than you might imagine, largely because of the clever modular IKEA IVAR shelving that houses the books. These shelves have occupied at least three different houses over the years so I'm reasonably well-practised at dismantling and remantling them.

Once the problem had eventually been located and fixed, it only remained to rebuild everything. You can't (well, assuming you're not literally insane) just chuck stuff back on the shelves willy-nilly, though - when you own something like 900 fiction books you need to put them in an order (alphabetically by author's surname, obviously) that will allow you to subsequently find something when you want it. Additionally, I do of course have an electronic record of which books I own which is very helpful in ensuring you're getting the books back on the shelf in the right order with no gaps, since filling gaps later involves much shunting of books along to accommodate the new entries and the associated wailing and gnashing of teeth. Much better to get it right first time.

A thing struck me while I was refilling the fiction section, though:

Fortunately when you have a database at your fingertips you can check this stuff very easily. Here is my book collection grouped by first letter of author's surname:

Letter Total Read Unread Unread%
A 62 56 6 9.68
B 114 107 7 6.14
C 49 45 4 8.16
D 52 49 3 5.77
E 12 9 3 25.00
F 74 69 5 6.76
G 38 35 3 7.89
H 55 54 1 1.82
I 11 10 1 9.09
J 15 13 2 13.33
K 44 41 3 6.82
L 65 61 4 6.15
M 71 62 9 12.68
N 7 6 1 14.29
O 17 15 2 11.76
P 22 16 6 27.27
Q 1 1 0 0.00
R 12 9 3 25.00
S 56 48 8 14.29
T 37 33 4 10.81
U 6 5 1 16.67
V 15 14 1 6.67
W 37 37 0 0.00
Y 2 2 0 0.00
Z 1 0 1 100.00

As you can see, my tweet did not lie - the first half of the alphabet accounts for more than three times as many books as the second half, 662 to 213. I would imagine some sort of discrepancy in this direction exists among the entirety of novels published in English, since the second half of the alphabet contains a few more gnarly letters like Q, U, X (the only letter I have no novels under) and Z, but surely not a threefold discrepancy. 

B is the top-ranking letter with a stonking 114 books; if you rank all those with over 50 books in descending order you get the phrase BFM LASHD which coincidentally is a codename for some of the more eye-watering sexual practices I like to indulge in at weekends.

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