10 ways to organize books

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10 ways to organize books
10 ways to organize books

If your books are starting to pile up all over the place or you find yourself always rummaging through the stacks looking for that novel you want to read, it may be time to rearrange them. Luckily, you have many options when it comes to organizing and displaying your books. There are no right or wrong ways to do this, so feel free to try various methods to see what seems best to you. You can even combine a few different organizational styles to create something totally unique for yourself.


Method 1 of 10: Gender

Organize Books Step 1
Organize Books Step 1

Step 1. Separating the books by genre will make it easier for you to find them quickly

You can have a shelf for romance novels, another for poetry collections, and a third for experimental fiction. By separating the shelves by genre, you will build a mind map of where each thing belongs. You also won't have to worry about putting your books back in the perfect slot, as a book that belongs to a certain shelf can go anywhere on that shelf.

  • This is a great solution if you tend to go through reading phases where you spend a month on historical fiction a lot, then move on to science non-fiction books another month, and so on.
  • This may not be the best option if most of your books belong to a single genre. If you have six shelves of literary theory, but only a handful of Greek plays, there won't be much variation from shelf to shelf.

Method 2 of 10: Alphabetically

Organize Books Step 2
Organize Books Step 2

Step 1. Sorting by the author's last name is a classic form of organization

If you have a very large collection, sorting by author will make it much easier for you to locate a particular book whenever you want. Looking for a book written by James Joyce? You just have to find section "J". There is nothing easier than that.

  • If you have trouble remembering names, this is not going to be an ideal solution. You'll probably end up spending more time than you'd like when it's time to pick up a certain book.
  • This might not be the best option for you if Raymond Chandler's idea of mystery stories on a shelf next to Noam Chomsky's political theory seems like an odd combination to you.

Method 3 of 10: Color

Organize Books Step 3
Organize Books Step 3

Step 1. For a visually striking look, organize your books by color

You can put all the white papers on one shelf, the red ones on another, followed by the yellow ones, and so on. You can also go for a "spectrum" in which red books are mixed with oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and blacks. This can make for an impressive display, and guests are sure to be impressed when they see your library!

  • It is also a very good idea if you have a great visual memory and it is not difficult for you to remember what the covers of books are like.
  • While the rainbow color-organizing style is by far the most popular, you can play around with it. You can put patches of white books around the shelves, put a few vertical stacks of red books, and place a few random rows there.
  • If you don't have a very diverse collection in terms of covers, or you have a lot of books with multi-colored covers, this can be a difficult way to organize, as your collection may appear unbalanced or disorganized.

Method 4 of 10: Topic

Organize Books Step 4
Organize Books Step 4

Step 1. For a smaller collection, it makes sense to organize the books by subject

If you are a big fan of poetry, you could separate your collections from romantics, postmodern books, and objectivist poetry. If you're really into historical non-fiction, assign World War I its own shelf, the Civil Rights Movement another shelf, and books about the United Nations another area.

This is a great way to organize your collection if you have a significant interest in a particular type of literature, as you can further break down the organization as the library grows. Someone who reads a lot of science nonfiction might divide it into books on genetics, books on hormones, etc

Method 5 of 10: Timeline

Organize Books Step 5
Organize Books Step 5

Step 1. Sorting by publication date is an interesting way to present a collection

People don't do it very often, but it can be nice to see the story displayed on your bookshelves. You can start with the classics and work your way up to keep the older books on top of the shelves, or work from the present to the back to make the newer books the most visible.

  • This is a very interesting way to organize your books if you are a huge history buff or have a lot of historical non-fiction books.
  • If your collection has many books from a single period of history (for example, most of the books you have were printed after 1950), this will be a bit tricky. You can do this, but you may need to check the inside cover of each book to check the publication date, and this may not be very intuitive.

Method 6 of 10: Value

Organize Books Step 6
Organize Books Step 6

Step 1. If you have rare or unique books, put them at eye level

This way, when guests browse through the titles on your shelves, they will immediately see the most interesting books you have. Organize the rest from more to less interesting, with the most boring books in your collection at the end. This should also make it fairly easy to remember where specific books are, as you will have an intuitive sense of where you would have put each text.

  • If you can't find a way to arrange the books where the most interesting titles are the most visible, this is a good way to do it.
  • You can even place some plants or trinkets on your top shelves to separate unique mini-collections that you own and want to stand out.
  • You can have the first edition of each Harry Potter book on top, leaning against a plant, followed by a stack of Jane Austen novels from the early 20th century. By separating the books, they will stand out even more on the shelves.

Method 7 of 10: Personal Attachment

Organize Books Step 7
Organize Books Step 7

Step 1. Put your favorites at the top and your least favorites at the bottom

This will be totally subjective, but it can be fun to spend an afternoon putting down the books and assessing how you feel about them. Has a book radically changed your life? Put it on the top shelf! Do you just keep that old dusty etymological dictionary for reference? Store it on the bottom shelf.

  • If you have a really large collection of books, this can make it difficult to keep track of where things are. However, you can combine this with a genre or topic organizing style to make it easier.
  • For example, you can stack all the poetry on the left side of each shelf, with your favorites on the top, followed by the nonfiction in the center of each shelf, and the fiction on the right side.

Method 8 of 10: Utility

Organize Books Step 8
Organize Books Step 8

Step 1. Place the books you use most often at eye level for quick grabbing

Reserve the bottom shelf for books that you are unlikely to read again in the future. This is a great idea if you don't have a large collection, as it won't take you long to sift through each shelf for the book you're looking for.

This is a very smart choice if you have a lot of reference books because you are in medical or law school

Method 9 of 10: Size

Organize Books Step 9
Organize Books Step 9

Step 1. In the case of modular or asymmetrical shelves, you can sort by size to get a unique shot

Put all the largest books on the shelf with the most vertical space. Put all the smaller books together on the smaller shelves. The collection will have an elegant feng shui in which the shelves will feel balanced and neatly ordered.

  • You can also organize them by height from left to right. Place the tallest books on the left side of each shelf and work your way down to the smallest. This will create an interesting waterfall effect on each of your shelves.
  • You can also do this if the shelves are not modular or asymmetrical. It uses a combination of vertical stacks of books and horizontal rows to group books of nearly identical sizes. This will have a unique aesthetic effect in that your shelves will appear simultaneously uniform and varied.

Method 10 of 10: Acquisition Date

Organize Books Step 10
Organize Books Step 10

Step 1. Do you forget to read all the books you buy? Try this

Put your favorite childhood books at the bottom right and start climbing. At the top left of the shelf, place your most recent purchases. This is the perfect solution if you buy a lot of books at once and then forget to read them, as you'll always have that "to read soon" section at the top left.

Over time, you will end up filling your shelves with books arranged in the order that you read them. Isn't it cool? You will have this little visual record of your reading habits over the years


  • You don't need to keep all your books in one place. If you have a particularly special set of books or want to distribute them around the house for decorative reasons, go for it! Every mantle, windowsill, and end table can be a place to display your collection.
  • If you don't have a large collection, you don't need to organize them using any kind of system in particular.

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