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5 Ways to Organise Your Bookshelf

Some Options for How to Keep Your Books in Order

By Danielle T. MurrayPublished 4 years ago 7 min read
Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash

So, I own a fair few books, and I know that rearranging a bookshelf can be daunting for a lot of reasons, especially if you own a lot of books, but one element is trying to figure out how you want to organise it. I tend to find it much easier to do if I know beforehand how I want to do it, so I thought I would put together five options that I've personally tried in the past that have been of great use to me.

Most of these suggestions can be mixed together, and sometimes combining them will actually help to keep your shelves even more organised and easy to sort through when you need them. There's also room for some versatility with each of these options.

Anyway, without further ado, let's start with the most obvious one...

Alphabetical Order

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Seems pretty straightforward, right? This one can be done two main ways: by title or by author. You can do one of these or you can combine it by having your shelves organised by author and then organise those author's books by title.

This one provides a really quick and easy way to find the book you're looking for. If you have a lot of books, you can even add little letter tabs onto your bookshelves to show where each section starts. Really, the only problem with this one is that you might have to shift a large portion of your bookshelf at least one space to the right (or left) to make room for any new books; however, if you don't have that many books, you can always leave space throughout to avoid this problem.

Genre (and Sub-Genres)

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This one can be as broad as you want to make it, but there's a couple of ways to go about this one. You can stick to just organising your shelves by the main genre for each book or you can introduce sub-genres. For example, you can put all of your horror books together but then organise those by the type of horror. If you have a lot of books, you can even introduce splitting your shelf by target audience either before or after you organise by genre.

I've personally done this one a couple of times, but I often struggle with where to place books that have multiple genres. If you also reach that same problem, I would recommend going with the one that stood out to you more. Really, the only downside to this is that you might struggle when it comes to organising the books you haven't read yet if there are multiple genres and you're not quite sure which one to file it under. Other than that, this is a really great one if you're the type of reader who gets the urge to read a particular genre at once.

Reading Order

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Now, I personally love this one and I go quite generic with it. When I do it, I organise my shelves into different areas: currently reading, read, to be read, miscellaneous.

More often than not, I have multiple books on the go. If there's not too many, I'll pile them up on my bedside table, but if there's a fair amount, I'll put them at the top of my bookshelf. Below that is all of the books I've actually read, then below that will be the ones I'm still yet to read (Sometimes, my "to be read" pile will go above the "read" pile, depending on how I'm feeling or how many books there are).

Now, I personally split my "read" pile into my extra-special favourites, favourites, and everything else. The first are usually books that I instantly want to re-read or that spoke to me in a way that made it impossible to stop thinking about them after the fact. "Favourites" are just everything else that I enjoyed and will probably read again, but they just don't mean as much to me. Beyond that, I don't really have too many books. In order to keep clutter down, I tend to get rid of any books that I know I won't read again (charity shops, giving them to people I think might like them, etc.), but if I do have anything, they will go last in my "read" pile.

My "to be read" pile usually doesn't have an order, although I might sometimes put it in order of importance so I know what I should really be getting to next. As for the miscellaneous section, that's usually books that are too tall for my other shelves, ones I'm considering getting rid of, (auto)biographies, non-fiction, etc.

This is just the way I organise my shelves by reading order, but this one is really about finding an order that is the most efficient for you. For some people, if they have multiple shelves, they might have one dedicated to what they've read and one to all of their unread books.

Personal Categories

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So something I like to do is organise books into categories where they have something in common. For example, I might have all of my extra special favourites grouped together or I might have a group of all of my lgbtq+ books or maybe a category for all of my young adult contemporaries or I might even have a section just for all the books I had to read because of school or university.

These categories can take into consideration: genre, target audience, subject matter, the period of your life in which you read them, the sex/gender of the protagonist, the sexualities of the main couple, if it features an animal as a main character, where the book is set, the main character's profession, etc. Really, the list is endless. If you have a favourite trope, maybe organise by that. You could even put every book that has a character with an unnatural hair colour together or stick every book that has a character you can relate to together. Another way is that when you finish a favourite book of yours, what other books on your shelf does it make you want to read? Put all of those together.

Similarly to organising by genre, this one can be hard to use on books you haven't read yet, but it's a fun little way to organise the ones you have read. If you categorise based on something that really stands out to you, then it's usually easy to find the book you're looking for.

Rainbows and Gradients

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This one is more aesthetic than anything else. A lot of books will have one prominent colour on its spine which makes it really easy to organise by colour. Although, if you're like me, a large portion of your books are black or white on the spine so you can't really do this, but even with just a small section of your bookshelf, this can be a lot of fun and super nice to look at.

Now you can go with the rainbow and you can even combine it with a gradient effect. So, for example, when it comes to your green books, you'll start with any that have a yellowish tone to it (or even lots of yellow if the spine has multiple colours) and slowly transition into the greens that have more of a bluish tone (or lots of blue if there are multiple colours). That way it feeds into the yellow books and blue books that come before and after. Depending on how many books you have, this might not be a seamless transition, so it's mostly about eyeballing it and seeing what looks the best. You can even just skip the rainbow and go straight to the gradient and put it all into whatever order you want.

This one is just a lot of fun to do and it can also add a lot of colour to the room if that's something that's lacking. And if you're not too fussed about sorting each colour into a gradient, it can be a really quick way to sort out your shelf by grabbing every book with the same coloured spine and putting it straight onto the shelf.

And don't forget, you can combine a lot of these as well.

I personally tend to lean towards the 'reading order' option because it works the best for me, however, if I don't really need some kind of strict order, then the "rainbow" one is my favourite. It really all comes down to what works best for you, but I hope that at least one of these will come in useful the next time you decide to reorganise your bookshelf!


About the Creator

Danielle T. Murray

she/her • uk — I mostly write about TV shows and movies but I occasionally write about other things too — blogtwitterinstagram

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