Sorting Books (v1.0.0, 2022-01-17)

One of my more common penalty chores in my youth was to alphabetize the house which saw a constant influx of new books and a shuffling of existing ones as they were read and put away. The problem was that I would sort through the books and pluck out the ones that interest me, frequently gathering a to-read pile as big as the one I put back into my shelves.

How we sorted changed over the years. We always sorted on author (last name and then first) and used the first author or editor as the name. After that, it got more fluid.

Originally, the second sort field was the title as written. This meant that all the books that started with “A Something” were grouped together and all the “The Somethings” were also clustered.

Naturally, that led to an alternative approach where we moved the initial articles to the end, so A Spell for Chameleon would be under “Spell for Chameleon, A”. This got rid of the worst of the clusters but seriously slowed down the alphabetizing. Which, as a penalty chore, was a good thing but less when just doing it for fun or, as an adult, as a self-inflicted chore.

The ordering I always wanted was series and then sequence. That made book one of a series on the left and it just continued on with Two for the Dough and then Three to Get Deadly and so on. As the series got bigger, they just crawled further along. It would be awesome if series were also chronological but rarely were they tied together, so I just did an alphabetical sort on series.

That approach is very slow and difficult. It requires thought and knowledge of a series, which is harder to demonstrate. Sometimes it isn't always clear what is book two or book three, or maybe they are both at the same time.


But I always liked approach, which is why my Fedran books have a sort key. Now this lead into a different train of thought but ultimately came down to the concept of identifiers which drives a lot of my site and explains all the entries that look like “0100-01” and “0047-00”.

They are sort keys, pure and numeric, no thoughts require to order them. They are put on the spine in the same place so hopefully they are easy to read and verify they are in order.

The first number, “0100” for Rutejìmo, is for the single point of view in the novel. Except for 0100, the rest of them started at 01 and went up for every story. This effectively gives me a published order of points of view.

Rutejìmo's story was already published at 100 when I added the fourth digit and started backfilling other stories. That is why it is out of order but I figured that it won't matter once I write 99 more points of view.

The “0000” POV is special for anonymous works while “9999” is also a special category.

The second number is the volume, starting at “00” and going up for every story in published sequence but not necessarily chronologically. But, sequels and prequels typically require you to read the previous story to get the full impact. Even prequels are hung on the understand of what will happen for their emotional impact; Anakin's journey is much different when you don't know he becomes Vader.

Likewise, volume “99” of any POV is every story collected into a single volume with every chapter chronologically arranged. I'm calling this an aggregate. Likewise, the “9999” character will be an aggregate of stories and novels and chapters of a single theme with “9999-99” being every story and every chapter arranged chronologically from the beginning to the end.