I Have 7 Categories for All My Books

And one of them will help you with your creative endeavors

Sophie Lucido Johnson


Illustrations and photographs by the author.

Last night I couldn’t sleep, and so I sat by my window and tried to find a star. Finding a star has helped me sleep since I was little; I like remembering I’m small, and that there are giant burning balls of gas that are actually HUGE but that look like pinpricks to me. The scale of things is impossible to understand, and the sheer ridiculousness of all this comforts me. But last night it was cloudy, and there were no stars. So I went downstairs to look at my books.

I have seven categories of books I own. I’m sure I’m leaving out categories that other people have, and I hope you’ll chime in in the comments regarding my oversights. But here they are.

Years ago, my book categories were all mixed up. This is no longer the case.

CATEGORY ONE: Obligation Books

Books I received as gifts, and so I feel like I can’t give them away, because what if the person who gave me the book comes over to my house and starts looking for the book they gave me? Someone went to great lengths to think of me and give me a book, and I haven’t even had the decency to imagine that I will read it, so it is the absolute least I can do to hold on to the book as though I might, someday, in a world that we all know doesn’t really exist, make time for it.

Occasionally, Obligation Books come in handy. Someone gives me a book that I don’t think I want, but then I read an article about it and I come to understand that I was wrong to not want it. Then I already have the book and don’t have to wait for it to come in at the library.

CATEGORY TWO: Opportunity Books

Books that were free, and they seemed kind of interesting, maybe; and then THEY WERE FREE! They were in a Little Free Library or on a table of books at a business that were there for the taking. So I took a book, because (and this is important) IT WAS FREE.


Books that I want people who are looking at my bookshelf to know that I have, and honor enough to display, even…