Recently on my podcast, Become a Media Maven, I asked Bookstagrammer Katelyn Cole at @BookcaseBeauty how she organizes her books on her bookshelf. That got me thinking. There are so many ways to organize a bookshelf with your favorite books.
Whether you store books on shelf space with easy access or have a ton of books with small spaces and visual clutter, there is no right or wrong way to create a solid book organization system.
15 Creative Ways to Organize Your Books on a Bookshelf
I have a few bookshelves in my home and they’re all organized a bit differently. I also know many avid readers who organize their books a bit differently. If you’re looking to do some redecorating with a lot of books, here are some thoughts.
One of the easiest ways and first thing you should do is figure out where your book world is going to live in your home. Then, it’s time to get to work!
1. Alphabetically by Author’s Last Name
If you have a favorite author and have many books by the same author, this may be an ideal way to organize your shelves. I have some books on sections of my shelves that are organized this way.
My Mitch Albom books are all grouped together for example. So are my Nicholas Sparks books.
Once I have all the authors’ books grouped together, I place them in order of when they were published, starting with the earliest date.
2. Alphabetically by Book Title
I don’t have any books organized this way. I think it’s because the books that start with “A” and “The” will throw me off, so I don’t bother. However, I think it’d be easier to find a book by title than by author name.
3. By Genre
For me, this is the best way to get started.
I also organize sections of my bookshelves by genre. For example, I have sections that are non-fiction and fiction. I also have a TV or broadcast news section since I used to work as a TV reporter.
Maybe for you, the subject matters are travel books, historical fiction, mystery novels, or social sciences.
4. By Genre, then Alphabetically by Author
Once you have your books organized by genre, it makes sense to put them in alphabetical order by author. I do this for both my fiction books and non-fiction books.
If it works for public libraries, then why not in your home library? It’s a modern version of the Dewey Decimal System. Remember that?
5. By Genre, then Alphabetically by Title
Again, organizing within a genre just makes it easy to find things… and can be aesthetically pleasing too.
6. By Series
Within a genre, I like to organize by series.
This is a huge part of my main bookshelf with my James Patterson books. He has so many series, so I have The Women’s Murder Club organized by publication date, which is super easy since their titles are numbers like 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, 4th of July, etc.
Then, there are his Alex Cross novels, Michael Bennet, NYPD, etc. I can’t keep up with the author… and I’ve told him this before when I interviewed him about the importance of shopping at local bookstores in 2021.
7. By Color
If you’re not a #bookstagrammer, I suggest you follow the hashtag and see what beautiful creations avid readers are creating on Instagram by using book spines in different colors.
For me, I don’t organize by color. But for my kid’s children’s books on their shelves, I do. There is something about kid’s books and the rainbow that I love. I blame The Home Edit.
8. By Read and To Be Read
When I interviewed my fellow #bookstagrammer, Katelyn, on Become a Media Maven, she said this is how she organizes her books on her shelves. She reserves the top for to be read while the books she has read are on the bottom. From there, she does more organizing using the methods I mentioned above.
When I get new books sent to me by publishers, this gives me a simple way to quickly organize. They go right to the top of the stack in my new book section.
9. By Size of the Book
Sometimes I use horizontal stacking. In this case, it looks better to do this by size. By this point, they’re already organized by genre or author.
But some people organize all their books by size. To be honest, this wasn’t something I considered until many women commented in a poll I posted in the Women Reading Great Books Facebook Group.
10. By Paperback and Hardback
This could fall under the “by the size of the book” category, but because the structure and size of these books can vary, it deserves its own section.
11. By Feeling
In the Facebook Group I mentioned, a woman named Rita said, “In the Facebook Group I mentioned, a woman named Rita said, “By feeling. It’s so weird and I never really thought about it so it’s not on purpose, but I organize my books by how they make me feel, the emotional journey they gave me.”
Could you imagine the Colleen Hoover and Nicholas Sparks sections?! All tears for me!
12. By Favorite Authors
I like this idea. I guess mine can be considered organized like this based on where I place them on my shelves. Again, I have big shelves that take up entire walls, so there are different sections of organization.
13. By Favorite Books
How perfect is this method if a friend or family member comes over and wants to borrow a book?! Talk about easy to find! My husband got a little section on my bookshelf for his favorites.
Yes, backwards. This means you’re only able to see the pages.
The only time I’ve ever done anything remotely similar to this was when I nailed a bunch of open book pages to my wall to create a big piece of art. Click here to see what I created with $40 and a couple of hours on a weekend. It really didn’t take a lot of time.
15. Organize. What’s That?
I know I’m a little over the top with organizing and it’s not for everyone, so I’d be remiss to not include this option. Some people just stack books on the floor, coffee tables, end tables, or book carts (like this one I love from Amazon). Or, you can just throw them on their shelf in their own organized, chaotic way.
I also have a stack of unwanted books for my Little Free Library.
Of course, this blog post is talking about physical books, not digital books. If you want help organizing books on your Kindle, click here.
I think these 15 different ways to organize books in your personal library are all good ideas. If you have a collection of books or even a small group of favorite books, let me know what your organization method is on Instagram at @ChristinaAllDay.
The good news? There is no wrong way to do this, so there is no reason to call in professional organizers or an interior designer.