Reading that made me laugh: Over the years, my father and I have had endless discussions about the organization of our bookshelves, which we change all the time, usually when we're supposed to be doing something else, like finishing a story for a presssing deadline. Currently, mine is organized by genre (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, with trinkets separating each genre -- a stone gargoyle, a picture of my nephew, a small rubber brain), then by category within genre (science, general nonfiction, memoir, etc, which gets tricky when books fall in more than one category), then alphabetical by author within each category. Those books stand one next to the other on the shelf, but I have special categories within each category for subjects I plan to write about someday -- those books lie flat, stacked one on top of the other, also alphabetized by author.
So I read Parini's essay and thought, someone looking at my bookshelves will immediately learn three things about me: I'm a science nerd, I'll someday write about Appalachia and memory and tattoos, and I probably have a borderline case of OCD, which I clearly inherited from my father, whose shelves are even more intricately organized than mine.
Parini's essay was quite timely for me, because this week I start putting all my books in boxes (alphabetically and categorized) because I'm moving and leaving my wall of built-in shelves behind (that, combined with a big story deadline, explains the quiet blog). This is exciting, because it means I have to buy new bookshelves, which means I have to re-organize my books by shelf as well as category and author ... It's all about perfectly organized chaos.