Bookish DIY

How Should You Organize Your Bookshelves?

January 31, 2018
Nicole Fiorica

There are 6 ways to organize bookshelves…

It is perhaps the book lover’s most difficult conundrum: how does one organize your bookshelves and all of those wonderful stacks of books that you’ve hoarded over the years?

It isn’t easy: after all, there are a lot of books to keep track of, and you want to be able to find what you’re looking for, but you also want it to look good.

I spent weeks contemplating how to do this for my own bookshelf at home, and surveying family members who threw up their hands and said, “Do whatever you want!” The right system might be a little bit different for everyone, but here are some tried and true methods for keeping your books in order.

Which method(s) do you use? Let us know below!


Alphabetically by author:


This is what I use, and I like it because I always know exactly where all of my books are. When you spend a lot of time in libraries and bookstores, it feels natural to stick to the same system that they use. And when you own multiple books by the same author, it more often than not looks aesthetically pleasing to stack them next to each other.

By color:

Books by Color

Organizing by color feels increasingly popular, and I totally get it. Color-coded shelves look so pretty. Odds are good that you know the colors of all of your books (when you’ve held it and photographed it and…oh yeah, read it enough times, you tend to remember these things) so with this system, it’s still relatively easy to find what you’re looking for.

By genre/topic:

Books by Topic or Genre

Sorting your books by genre also makes a lot of sense visually, since sci-fi fantasy books have a tendency to look alike, and contemporary books have a tendency to look alike, and so on. This way, there’s a section of your shelf for whatever you happen to be in the mood for. In addition, if you have a lot of nonfiction, sorting by topic (again, as they do in libraries and bookstores) might just be the most practical choice.

By size:

Books by size

The ultimate aesthetic choice. Revel in the perfect even-ness of your shelf, the way each book lines up comfortably with the books next to it. This method is also combinable with some of the above choices, if only to increase the find-ability of what you’re looking for. 

By series and standalone

Books by Series

If you own all or most of the books in a series, you’re going to want to show them off in a way that looks good. In order to avoid the possibility of some books spilling onto separate shelves and ruining everything (I’ll admit, this is a big concern for me) it might be easier to just organize each series first, and organize your standalone books separately.

By read and unread:

Books Read and Unread

For the reader concerned about new purchases getting lost and forgotten when mixed in with other books, it makes sense to have a shelf (or entire bookcase) devoted to unread books, perhaps sorted in order of priority or how long you’ve had them. While this means that your bookshelf is probably in constant movement, it’s also a great visual reminder of what books you want to tackle next.


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