How do you organise your bookshelves?

23/05/2017 Discussions, Reading 29

How do you organise your bookshelves?

Yep, it’s one of those big, bookworm questions: how do you organise your bookshelves? There are so many options, so many things to consider and everyone does it slightly (or very!) differently.

Here’s a few possible ways it could be done, and I’d love to know your preference!

  • Alphabetically

One of the simplest ways to organise your bookshelves is alphabetically, whether that’s by title, or by author (by author tends to be the more common way of alphabetising). This makes it super easy to find what you’re looking for immediately, and let’s face it: it works for libraries and bookshops, so why not use it for your personal library?

Plus, I like how this means that all your books by the same author are grouped together!

  • By genre

Alternatively you could arrange your books by genre, keeping all your fantasy books together, and all your crime thrillers together etc. This makes it easy when you know what kind of book you feel like reading and just want to have a peruse of those particular books.

Plus this can also make your shelves look nice and cohesive, because books of the same genre tend to have similar styles of covers that’ll look great next to each other!

  • By colour

Another way you could arrange your books is by colour, and I have seen this done to beautiful effect on Instagram! I love the whole rainbow bookcase thing, but unfortunately I don’t personally have a big enough bookcase, or enough colourful books (a lot of my books tend to have really dark covers for some reason – just check out the picture above!).

I can imagine this could get annoying though when you’re looking for a particular book, as different books in the same series or by the same author may not necessarily end up placed next to each other.

  • Randomly

Yep, the thought makes me cringe a little, but if you honestly don’t care how your books look on the shelves (which is fair enough!) you could literally just shove them all on any old shelf and the world wouldn’t end!

Personally I have a very particular, but also very vague organisational approach to my book case (if that makes sense!). I have shelves for different genres, so there’s a fantasy shelf, historical fiction shelf and a classics shelf, but each shelf is arranged simply by books that ‘look good together’. So maybe they have a similar colour palette, or a similar style, they just have to look good next to each other. Perhaps alphabetising within genre would make more sense, but would it look as good? Probably not!

Anyway, I’d love to know how you organise your own bookshelves! Do you go alphabetically, or by genre or colour? Or do you have a completely different system entirely?

29 Responses to “How do you organise your bookshelves?”

  1. Pikakshi Manchanda

    Bravo for all those points. I hadn’t actually thought of organising my books by color. It sure does seem interesting for a color fanatic, but as you said, it can get annoying and time consuming. Another interesting approach could be organising your books by their reading status/goodread shelves status, i.e., read, currently reading, to be read, started but couldn’t finish and so on. They can further be suborganized in these shelves by any of the ways you suggested. What do you think?

    • Laura

      I love that idea! I really like the thought of having a physical manifestation of my Goodreads shelves!
      Maybe they could be organised as well in terms of your Goodreads star rating, so you’d have a nice shelf full of all your favourites? 🙂

  2. Sherryl

    I arrange them by size. I have a hodgepodge of shelves of different sizes and so… size.

  3. Kelly

    Alphabetical. I tried by colour once, and while I LOVED the look of it, it made it damn near impossible to find anything! Haha

    • Laura

      Yeah, I can imagine that the colour thing would be super inconvenient, even if it looks pretty! 🙂

  4. Greg

    My shelves are pretty haphazard! I love seeing those pics of shelves sorted by color though and TBH I’d love to do that , for something different, but I’m not sure I have enough books to pull it off! I buy so many e- books now. And I do sort of categorize by genre, it just feels like it makes sense to do that?!?

    I’ve never thought of doing it alphabetically, isn’t that weird? Especially since I see it in bookstores/ libraries all the time lol.

    • Laura

      Whilst I probably have enough books to have a go at the colour thing, a lot of them are really dark colours, so it wouldn’t exactly be a pretty rainbow, like the ones I’ve seen on Instagram! I have been moving more towards ebooks myself as well recently.
      And the genre thing has definitely always made sense to me. Especially as they tend to have similar looking covers, so they just look nice together! The alphabetical thing probably isn’t that obvious an arrangement to do in your own home anyway. I’ve tried it, and it is a bit time consuming trying to figure out which books go where! 🙂

  5. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I always do mine by colour! I never lose books either. ? I just know a book by its colour! SO EASY. My only growls come at separating series (whyyyy can’t they all have the same colour spines omg?!) so I generally keep my most favourite series together on a smaller bookshelf. But the effect of a rainbow shelf is just SO beautiful and I wouldn’t have mine any other way!!?

    • Laura

      I really love the look of those colourful arrangements! I just don’t have enough brightly coloured books to do it (and I totally don’t have the memory to be able to remember where each book is!) 🙁
      I can definitely see how the series separating thing could be really annoying though, so I like the idea of having a separate bookshelf for all your favourites. In fact I just like the idea of having a ‘favourite’ shelf in general! I may have to do that! 🙂

  6. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    My style is somewhere between these. I have a couple of shelves that are organized by color, a few that sort by series, and then some with review books I need to read. But then I also have a bunch that are disorganized, so…

  7. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I’m the same. I like to organise by genre… but quite loosely because often I have to combine genres as the number of books I have for each genre gets too much for one shelf so then I have to link unrelated genres together. On the shelves I have no real order, though. I just put series together and books by the same author together and then just make it so books which are the same height are next to each other. It’s vaguely organised chaos. I do then have my unread bookshelves (yes, plural) which are simply split by contemporary (be it YA or adult) and not contemporary (mostly fantasy and sci-fi with other random stuff thrown in). It may not be the best system but it works for me.

    I agree about organising by colour. I looks pretty but it would frustrate me to all hell that books in a series weren’t necessarily next to each other and really trying to find a book in general would be hard.

    • Laura

      Vaguely organised chaos sounds good to me! I definitely have that problem too though, where I have to start blending totally unrelated genres into each other. I have so many fantasy books for example that they go across a few shelves, and then I have only a few thrillers, so they take half of one of my ‘fantasy shelves’ which is annoying, but necessary! I do have a separate stack of unread books too that have no real order, and a few more on my Kindle.
      As long as you have a system that works for you anyway, that’s all that matters! 🙂

  8. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    Confession: Mine (my TBR, anyway) are random right now. I know, I know. It makes me cringe too, but I just had to get them ON the shelf at this point. The books I read are in alphabetical order by author last name though! I tried to do the color thing for my books to read, but it was too hard, every time I got a new book or read one, the color scheme got all messed up! Which is probably why they’re random at the moment hah.

    • Laura

      Haha, I think there does come a point where just getting all your books on a shelf is an achievement. My book case is starting to overflow by this stage, and I’ve had to start stacking them on top of it as well (and it does look kind of precarious, so I should probably get another bookcase!). And I hadn’t thought about that, but that’s another thing that would be annoying with the colour system. Every time you got a new book (which is a lot with me!) you’d have to reshuffle them all!

  9. Pamela

    I organize mine by priority! Haha. All my vampire books are at the very top, because I don’t read them anymore, so they’re just there. Then, in the middle shelves, there are all the books that I adore and like to look at XD, where I can easily reach them.

    At the bottom, there are more ‘undesired’ books. But these are the ones that I read and didn’t like that much. Not going to be reaching for those either!

    • Laura

      Organising by priority sounds like a pretty good system to me! And I definitely have a specific place for my ‘undesired’ books too – I put them flat at the back of the book case behind the rows of books I want to display. I only have limited room on my bookcase, so I only want the ones I like to be on show! 🙂

  10. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf

    I just finished reorganizing and cleaning out my bookshelves. I do a mixture of organization methods, though my primary goal is to keep same-subject books and authors together. A lot is determined by size. I end up laying a lot of books flat and stacking on top of those, so I go from biggest to smallest. While focusing on subject and author, I play around with size. One issue for some of my shelves is the weight of the book, so I try my best to put the heaviest books on the bottom shelf or two.

    My issue with the methods you list is that they work best in situations where shelf real estate isn’t an issue, like in a public library (not to say it isn’t a concern, but it has a lot of shelves to work with). If all of my books could just stand freely on the shelf and I didn’t have to consider the available space, I would probably organize alphabetically by author and then title (unless it were a book series because I like to keep those in order). I would probably occasionally try to make a rainbow shelf just for the fun of it.

    • Laura

      Size is such a big consideration, and I totally forgot about that! In an old bookcase I used to have, I couldn’t even fit hardbacks on some of the shelves, so that really impacted my book organisation. And as you say, some shelves can’t handle a lot of really heavy books!
      I totally get what you mean about shelf real estate as well – that can mess up your organisation system! I have too many books for the bookcase I own, so I tend to stack some on top as well (still organised by genre!), and then any books I didn’t particularly like, I lie flat at the back of the book case behind the rows of books I do want to display. It’s still kind of annoying though that I can’t just fit them all into my organisation system! 🙂

  11. Rachel

    I kind of have my own little messed up system. I definitely arrange partially by genre/author, and keep my series together. Within that I’ll also arrange by size and colour where I can. I couldn’t do colour totally as splitting series up would drive me crazy (if the spines have different colours), and I couldn’t do totally alphabetically, because size comes in to play then. I have my own little OCDness about my shelves! Lol R xx

    • Laura

      Loads of people have said about size, and that’s something I totally forgot about when writing this post! I really hate when they’re all different sizes and the tops of the books don’t line up, so that definitely does play into my own organisation system too.
      I’m definitely a little OCD about my book shelves too! 🙂

  12. Jackie

    I only have two fairly small book cases– one for my books and one for my husband’s book. It may sound odd, but even though I blog about books, I’m not a book hoarder! I guess I’ve been conditioned not to considering I’ve moved almost every two years of my existence. During my youth, I was allowed to keep three medium sizes boxes of STUFF, so I learned how to cull my books and belongings early on. My organization is rough. I tried to organize by genre (we have a shelf of comic books. we have a shelf of comparative religion books. we have a Harry Potter shelf. we have a general non-fiction shelf. and then the rest are pretty random because I don’t have enough books from the other genres to fill up shelves).

    • Laura

      I’m a terrible book hoarder, so I really envy your ability to cull your belongings! I’ve moved three times in the last few years, and I still haven’t managed to cut down my book collection by more than a few books 🙁
      I can definitely see how organising by genre would be harder the less books you have though. You’re always going to have a few random ones! (I also have a Harry Potter shelf – I consider it an essential!) 🙂

  13. TeacherofYA

    I just couldn’t do mine by color! It would be so confusing for me…
    Right now it’s pretty random, but with the series together, the HCs together, the ARCs together, etc. I have been thinking of stacking the books horizontally instead of vertically to take advantage of the wasted space…but it’s a large undertaking. Also, I only have one shelf so books are
    sticking out everywhere else! ?

    • Laura

      It’s always such a huge undertaking rearranging your bookshelves isn’t it? Stacking them horizontally sounds like a great way to save space though, especially if you’ve got limited space to work with! 🙂

  14. Fleur @ Fleur Henley

    I definitely try and organise my bookshelves through the use of colour. That way I can try and fit as many books into one, without feeling as though I’m overdoing it! However, it also gives me a better framework of what to put where – I’m sure that 80% of my books are some form of fantasy, and so to order it by genre might be a little counter productive for me.

    • Laura

      That’s a good point – if your books are primarily one genre anyway, ordering it by genre would probably be pointless. A lot of mine are fantasy, but I do also have a lot of historical fiction and some classics and stuff too, so the genre thing works well for me as a basic framework. It sounds like you have a great system though, and I do really like the look of bookshelves that are ordered by colour.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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