Reading tip: add a book rack to your book shelf

What do you do with the books you’re thinking about reading, are reading, or recently read?  What should or might you do with these books, to maintain and change reading priorities, to maximize recall, to enjoy the cover art, etc.?  I think the structure and presentation of this reading space, as it might be called, probably has an important effect on our reading and thinking.

Tim's book rack

For me, cueing up books-to-read-next is a crucial activity, which might extend over many years between hearing of or acquiring a book, and finally reading it.  Cognitively, it may be inseperable from reading.  So I’ve used designated bookshelves, and sometimes variations on the proverbial “bedside reading pile”, plus many lists.  (such as my Amazon wish list, or long term Reading List).

The book shelf or pile has never seemed satisfactory, though, perhaps because these stow the books so only spine titles are visible — the same way books are stored permanently.  Shelved books are back in the ranks — they don’t seem active, ready to launch, and if you have a lot of books, the cued-up books are not distinguished from any others.

So, as an experiment, I decided to put together a little 2′ x 4′ reading rack to mount on the front of a bookshelf, pictured above.  It needn’t be on a bookshelf, but this seemed convenient.

It’s just a 2′ x 4′ piece of plywood, some moulding, two hinges to mount it directly onto  bookshelf front, and a hinged extender to push the bottom out and make the rack sloping.

The dimensions and slope are such that small books (e.g. mass paperback) will fit in flat, but trade paper or larger will overlap the row above.  Goal is for each book to be accessible, the cover art/title to be readable, while maximizing number of books per unit of rack space.  The slope keeps the books laying in place, even if they overlap the ledge for the row above.

I judge it… a success.  I think reading is enhanced by keeping the recently read and to-read on hand for reinforcement.  My prototype rack is set up to be visible from my primary workspace, just to the right of my sightline to computer monitor, so I’m sure to casually and/or unconsciously survey it often.  Next time around, I’d probably make the rack the same width as the book shelf (3 feet here), i.e. if I were starting from scratch rather than using only existing wood pieces as-is.

I like that front-mounting a book rack on a book shelf not only a) uses unused airspace, but b) hides the books behind it, thus achieving a further pruning or attenuation of the book load.

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