Saturday, April 25, 2009

non-alphabetical; heretical!

Aside from the fascination of rediscovering the books themselves, getting them sorted alphabetically was very satisfying. I love sorting and putting things in order, including alphabetical order. Though you might not know it to look at my generally messy living and working spaces.

The other night we were at a little party at a friend's place. We talked about how their huge DVD collection was shelved in no particular order. I wondered how they find anything; why not put them in alphabetical order by title? My friend had us all in startled laughter when she stated baldly, "I hate the alphabet!"

Hate the alphabet? How can you HATE the alphabet? It was bizarre enough that we had to investigate further. It emerged that our friend is a numbers girl (well we knew that already), a whizz even. The full alphabet, however, is a challenge to remember and doesn't come naturally. Fair enough. I know many people who've never mastered telling left from right instinctively, and that's only two items, rather than 26.

The very next day I happened across this infinite alphabet wrist tattoo. It's beautiful and I kind of wish I'd thought of it myself. It belongs to an ex-librarian, who along with the literary implications, found it very useful when faced with 'the hard parts of the alphabet'. The comments on that post indicate it's not such a rare affliction.

As well as books, we have a lot of CDs in the house, and have always kept them in alphabetical order too (with a few broad genres separated). I've always been surprised at the number of people who seem to marvel at this organisation. Honestly, how else would you do it and still be able to find anything? I do remember Rob from High Fidelity had other answers for that - chronologically by order of acquisition? That would be very interesting....

5 comments:

amy said...

I alphabetized my CDs at one point. (I say at one point because now many of them are piled on top of the CD player or stuffed into the center console of the car, and I've just given up organizing anything, really, beyond making sure we're all fed!) For a while I tried organizing by genre, which was fun, but eventually I just alphabetized. If I remember correctly this horrified the friend who is now my husband, who organized by genre in a really interesting way and can tell you why seemingly disparate bands are near each other. And how's this one? We have multiple copies of many, many CDs because we never could agree whose copies to get rid of. Seriously, huge argument. We've been living together for 10 years now. At some point we decided to drop the idea of getting rid of the extras. (And does anyone bother buying used CDs now anyway?)

Olivia said...

We still buy second-hand CDs. I've never taken to buying music online. I like to listen to the CD first before I put it on my ipod. I kid myself I can hear the difference in the uncompressed version.

Same story for us with the duplicate CDs too - we each keep our own collections and never got rid of duplicates. When we moved in together we did stop BUYING duplicates, thank goodness.

The Shopping Sherpa said...

My CDs are in alphabetical order by artist and then chronological order by date of release within that which does cause some problems: Dave Brubeck, for instance is under "B" while The Dave Brubeck Quartet is under "D".

Oddly enough my record collection was always in chronological order by date of purchase with singles and 12" singles kept separately. Then again, they were catalogued...

Olivia said...

Yes I do chronological order within artists too - and I hate the way iTunes always defaults to alphabetical by first name (WTF?)

Jejune said...

I'd organise my books and CDs alphabetically if I didn't live with 3 pathologically messy people!

I used to play 'find the word in the dictionary' speed games when I was a teenager, and still try to do this as fast as I can. Love that tattoo, brilliant :)