Perusing the current issue of Southern Living, I could see that they were still sound on questions of barbecue and forsythia, cooling drinks, and baking with lemon. But on the subject of the arranging of books, they have clearly lost their minds.

First, they suggest that you arrange your books not in the dull vertical fashion, but with some of them in horizontal stacks, for interest. It may be interesting, but how are you supposed to read the ones on the bottoms of the stacks? You have to unstack the entire stack every time you want to pull one out! They also want you to put art objects on top of the stacks. So you not only have to unstack the books, but also to find a resting spot for a the bibelots every time.

Then they recommend shelving the books according to color and size. I can see doing this within author and subject categories, but a strict adherence to the rule will put The Beatrix Potter Knitting Book with 50 Selected Songs by Schubert and Wedding Keepsakes. August Folly will have The Music Dictionary and Bunnicula Strikes Again as shelf-mates. How will you ever find a book? I don’t know what they are thinking.

Actually, I do know what they are thinking. They are thinking that you never read your books, or if you do, you will be idly browsing among them for something to read, not trying to put your hand on a particular book. They are wrong.

I was at Partygirl’s having a mimosa yesterday, and there were at least four occasions during our conversation when one or the other of us picked up one of her books. She wanted to read me a passage that had particularly impressed her, my eye was caught by the title of one of the volumes on her sofa table, we wanted to check a quotation.

Our houseguests noticed Rhinos who Skateboard on the shelf and had to read the whole series, plus of course checking out the sheet music collection.

In daily life, I often turn to a book to check a stitch pattern or planting distances for a vegetable. The boys need to look up information for school or a game. Even when you remember a particularly amusing scene in a novel, it is natural to grab the book and savor it again This is what books are for.

So here are my tips for arranging your books.

* Put them in some kind of logical order that will enable you to find them when you want them. If you have books which you never look into, you could stack them and set some objets d’art on top, but you might be better off trading them in at the used book store for something you will want to read.

* It is okay to put the most attractive books in the most public rooms, and even to hide any self-help books,  bodice-rippers, or other embarrassing titles in another room. However, bear in mind that if you have only classics on all public shelves, it will look as though you have never read anything that wasn’t assigned.

* If you have plenty of space on your bookshelves for collectibles, go right out and buy more books.

I think that covers it. For details on forsythia, check out Southern Living.