Stacker or Shelver?

When it comes to your reading place or reading chair, or reading bed, are you a stacker of books near you or do you make sure they are on shelves?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Jeff

    Stacker. Shelve eventually when it gets out of control.

  • RJS

    Stacker all the way – shelve when the stacks topple.

  • http://www.benjaminasimpson.com Ben Simpson

    Interesting pictures.

    Truth be told, I have to stack some of my books because I’m out of shelf space. But I try to keep my stacks small, and have been giving away old books to others to make new room on my shelves.

  • scotmcknight

    We have a wonderful small shelf right next to my reading chair, and it was built by a friend (TK Johnson), and I occasionally stack a book or two on it — temporarily only. I don’t like things to get out of control. Keep things tidy, that’s our motto.

  • RJS

    Yeah … the pictures you have posted on occasion have caused some wonder.

    I’ll never offer to show you my office (or work space at home) …

  • John

    Stacker. When the nightstand fills up, I just start stacking them on the floor.

  • http://rising4air.wordpress.com MikeK

    Both. I’ve converted to shelving over the last few years, w/ even some good effort of keeping the shelves dedicated for various topics or for what I need to attend to.

  • Reid

    Stacker, but iPad and kindle are slowly reducing the size of the stacks!

  • Barb

    this is really one of those pesky “both/and” questions

  • http://www.thetimehascome.wordress.com James

    My shelves are full and there are stacks on top, in front of, and beside them…so the answer to shelf or stack for me is…yes.

  • Yvette

    Stacker. I am writing more because a one word response was not acceptable.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel H. Evans

    Is “piler” an option.

    My books are in messy piles scattered across my house. It’s kinda embarrassing.

  • http://vancerains.com Vance Rains

    shelves, stacks, piles, crates, heaps, mounds – every room, every surface, every nook, every corner! Apparantly we all share the same illness – anyone want to go book shopping for more?

  • http://sharonodegaard.com/ Sharon Odegaard

    I aspire to be a shelver, but no matter how many shelves I have, I end up with stacks of books — on the nightstand, the kitchen table, the floor by the dresser, on the floor in the guest room, under the coffee table. I think I’m an incurable stacker!

  • http://fredshope.blogspot.com Fred

    Stacker, in multiple places. My shelves are filled two deep.

  • http://learningtomove.blogspot.com Erin

    Books for research, being read, or in the queue to be read get stacked. I love my stacks. They make me feel happy. I don’t know why.

    Books on the shelf are there for future reference, to be lent out, or to be read again.

  • CGC

    People think cars are to ride in and bedrooms are to sleep in. No! They are places to stack and hide books.

  • Beakerj

    Mmmmmmmmmm, look at those chairs….I may be drooling. Currently I am a reforming stacker, shelving things nicely, & getting rid of lots of books I won’t read again to make way for those I will. Books are easier to find these days so I’m not so worried about finding something again if I feel I want it back.

  • Bob Smallman

    Definitely a shelver. Way too OCD for stacks!

  • scotmcknight

    Time to weigh in…

    I have always been a meticulous librarian with my books … all books are in Dewey Decimal numbers (I used to write them on the books, but no longer). All books lined up with the outside of the shelf. Books within a number in chronological order (commentaries on Romans, for instance, in chronological order).

    I have a system for building shelves — takes me about 45 minutes to build a shelf.

    But I ran out of space … so I began to stack books on the top shelf’s books and this was not a happy situation for me.

    So this year I made a major decision, and have now donated about 2000 books to a new seminary/library in India, and now my books can breathe.

    I only have one section to weed out … I have about 12 shelves of books on the historical Jesus and I will be reducing them to about 2 shelves (max).

    What caused my problem is this blog… I get more books in the mail than I can possibly read, keep or shelve. I’ve got some space now for several years.

  • Sherrod Lee

    In college and med school libraries, the shelves where the books were kept were called “the stacks.” So I guess I just merge the two in my thought and practices.

  • http://sacramentalliving.blogspot.com Gina Wright Hawkins

    Stacker, though my husband is in the process of building a new bookcase to remedy this to a certain extent. There are books in every room in the house. I periodically try to weed through my collection, but hate to part with most of them.

    I’ve tried to think of ways to organize them. Dewey doesn’t do it form me, largely because I don’t think in those ways, so I’ve developed my own system.

  • scotmcknight

    RJS, you’re a stacker? I thought all scientists were tidy and OCD …

  • http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    The books I refer to often are stacked in strategic places around the house, therefore I struggle to find them when I need them.

    The books I rarely need are on the shelves (mostly).

    It’s not very satisfactory!

  • RJS

    Nope all scientists are not tidy and OCD – and I definitely am not. Books I am not using are shelved, although not well organized. But by my reading chairs? In both living room and study it is definitely stacks (not to mention my desk at work, which is also stacks).

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Scot! Scientists neat and tidy! You need to get out a bit more.

    I always filed chronologically, the deeper in the stack the older it gets.

  • http://www.parkpresbyterian.com J. Christy Wareham

    Stacker. (I am impressed by your method, Scot. I had a college professor in church history like you, but he didn’t publish his behaviors for the world to read. Now the world has read about you, and I look forward to the next DSM revision, where I expect you to have made an impact.)

  • Kyle

    Bookshelves filled with stacks, which is a bastardization on par with forking cereal. Functional, ugly, and sure to provoke judgmental glances from traditionalists. Since I have one Kindle atop a second, each possessing an indexing akin to shelving, I can take this stacked-shelved hybrid to a digital degree even.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I have found over the past few years that I need to organize better because I can’t keep it all in my head.

    Last week I was inteviewed via business case and did all the conceptual stuff well, but messed up on the algebra because there were too many variables for me to keep straight in my head and I crashed and burned. Horrible. Heck, I am the guy that does amazing math tricks without a net!

    Thankfully they saw that it just may be the 30 years since my BS and they are giving me a second chance on Monday, wish me luck.

    But, the real point I want to make is that some people organize because they need to organize while others do it so they can have rapid functional value. I never needed to organize for either reason, but now need to just so I can find stuff (including variables..).

    Last thought, I never had to wear glasses but now need reading glasses, but I have no glasses management skills! It is very difficult to keep track of those little things after so many years not caring!

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    Stacks for me, stacks galore, so to speak. Though I’m sure I don’t have nearly as many books as some of you. One stack is a bit tipsy in our bedroom, the other stack I lightened because it was bending the cart on the side where it’s extended. Shelves downstairs, but I’m out of shelf space.

  • Kyle

    #17 (CGC):

    I couldn’t agree more with your endorsement of the automotive or traveling library. I’ve got a Honda Civic with an MPG rating that plummets to average when the car’s saddled with my fifty texts of this and that. It’s nice, however, to fluidly recommend a book in conversation and then pass that book off at the end of the conversation, regardless of where the chat happened. Oddly, the only way to arrange the books is shelf-like across the back seat, which is a far more organized setup than what one finds in my home (where there’s no risk of G forces spilling books in ten vectors). I’ve never quite known whether to cover this collection when I leave the car – do these goods incite theft or deter it?

  • http://glennshores.com Charles Fines

    My dream home is designed with all rooms two feet wider and longer than needed, and shelves floor to ceiling installed. This will likely not happen, but if it did I suppose I am still capable of ending up with paths thru the piles. I like those old fashioned libraries with a ladder that slides along the shelves but I think in my case a stepladder would be more practical. My childhood municipal library was in an old, elegant, Victorian mansion. Still my favorite and wish I could live in it somewhere else.

  • Josh Rhone

    I was a shelver… But because I have run out of shelf space, I now stack… And stack… And stack…

  • Just Sayin’

    Those dustjackets look lovely . . .

  • http://shanescottonline.com Shane Scott

    Scot I would love to see a pic of your reading area! I used to have a recliner that was my official reading chair, but after many yrs of faithful service it gave up the ghost. Any other pieces of “equipment” you use when reading (aside from your trusty collection of fountain pens)?

  • http://chickchaotic.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth Chapin

    I’m a stacker and a messy – but my stacks are a perfect mess – there is a method to my madness and I get tweaked when well-meaning family members try to combine or rearrange my stacks! It may appear to others that they are not being kept in an orderly manner – no Dewey Decimal in my house, but my mind has them organized quite well, thank you very much. I’ve allowed myself a bit more freedom in stacking since reading “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place” by David H. Freedman and Eric Abrahamson. And, we just don’t have any more shelf space or space for shelves.

  • Ben Thorp

    Shelves are for books I’ve already read. Bookshelf closest to my bed (up until we started moving things around) tends to have books I’m about to read, along with books I’ve just finished. Stack next to the bed on the floor is the books I’m currently reading.


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