My house has 18 bookshelves. And that’s not counting all the piles of books on the floor or the mass of paperbacks that accumulate on nearly every available surface. (And some that are not so available – when I went to the bathroom and found a stack of books on the closed toilet seat, I knew I had a problem.)
In my room alone, I have two tall bookshelves, three human-height stacks of books, a cart filled with hardbacks, and novels on top of my dresser, desk, and nightstand. If you’re someone who feels like all is well in the world when your room is organized and your planner is up to date, this begs the question:
How do you organize them?
I know there’s a debate about whether it’s better to organize your books as “practical” or “pretty.” And I say, why choose one? I’ve used both ways. So here’s eleven ways to organize your books, whether it be practical, pretty, or even whimsical.
Hey, if it works for a library, it works for me. This is the most common way of organizing books, and probably the most practical…that is, if you remember author names! I feel guilty saying it as a writer, but sometimes I only remember titles, especially if the book isn’t apart of a series. But who says you can’t alphabetize by title? It’s your bookshelf, after all.
2. By Genre
I organize all of my bookshelves by genre. It’s the easiest way for me to find what I want. Also, books in the same genres tend to come in similar sizes. (Fashion and photography books, for example, are always larger, so it’s easier to group them together.) Even if I organize books by color or another special theme, I always organize by genre first so I can find what I’m looking for.
I’ve never done this, but I’ve always wanted to. This photo is from sorrythankyou79 (who actually sells instant library collections if you want a specific look!) and I think it’s a creative spin on the color-organization. You’ll need a lot of books that are a similar color, however.
IGNORE THE HATERS. Some party-poopers say people who organize books by color don’t care about reading, but I think it’s gorgeous. It makes me happy to look at and entices me to take a novel off the shelf. I tend to do it for a small shelf of books already organized by genre, so I can easily find what I need. For example, all the color-organized books above are writing books.
This is SO cool! I would love to try something like this. Since I haven’t, this photo is taken by Jamie Schwaberow for The New York Times. This would definitely take more effort to pull off, but the end result looks worth it.
6. By Size
I did this for my young adult and historical fiction novels. I put taller books on the end, near the bookends, and shorter books in the middle, so it created a slanting shape. It turned out pretty well, it was easy to do, and the books are still easy to find.
I haven’t tried any of these ideas…nor have I seen them tried. But I think these would be personal and creative ways to organize your books. These are all plans for books you have already read. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these!
7. By setting
Do you own a lot of books set in fantasy or dystopian worlds? Maybe you have a large collection of novels set in New York City. Either way, you could pay homage to these places by grouping books together by setting. (And yes, I made the bookends in the photo. I took a basic metal pair of bookends, covered them in construction paper, and used hot glue to attach the fictional places signs.)
8. By the age when you read the book
I guess I sort of inadvertently do this by organizing books all my children’s literature to do this, but I think it would be wonderful to organize an entire bookshelf by the date you read it. You could see your own life story laid out in books: how your reading tastes changed, what books you needed in different parts of your journey, and more.
9. By feeling
Do you reach for a certain set of books when you’re sad? Are there novels that you read whenever it’s cold outside, or books that you turn to for light summer afternoons? Try organizing your books by the feeling you get when you read them.
10. Um, I guess I’ll stack them?
Hahahahahaha. Here are some photos of my dog in front of the stacks of shame. Look at the dogs, not the piles. What can I say? I ran out of bookshelf room. And yes, for my biggest stack, which is reaching human height, I had to add several ‘markers’ to track its progress. I’ve only reached “Danger-Books May Topple” a couple of times, and then, I just started another pile. Hey, the books are always still more important than the organization, right?
Mix and Match Styles:
11. Combine all of these ideas!
As I said, I always organize all my books by genre first, and then add pretty or whimsical touches. Find out what works best for you.
How do you organize your books? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram.