Book Nerd Problems: Organizing Your Bookshelf

For us book lovers, there are probably as many ways to organize a book shelf as there are people who do it. There’s no right or wrong way – I believe that as long as you can find the books you want when you want them and are generally happy with the overall appearance, then that’s all that matters.

I’m currently facing a new and exciting problem – having more space than I’ve ever had before in which to organize and display my books. Ultimately, I’d love to have a giant Beauty and the Beast-style library – but until I marry a rich bookish prince with castle, I have to make do with the four bookshelves I’ve got. My bookshelves are all different sizes (1 large, 2 small, 1 teeny), and are in three different rooms in my house. Of course I can add more bookshelves if needed, but right now I have enough shelf space with a little to spare. The main issue I’m having now is deciding how I want to arrange all my books.

Here are some common ways to organize books. I’ve used some of these methods in the past, but I’m not sure what the best way is for my new house and new distribution of space. So let’s discuss:

Alphabetical by Author

Alphabetical by Title

Genre/Subject Matter. In other words, the non-fiction books about medieval weaponry would not be placed anywhere near the Beatrix Potter books about Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten.

Spine Color. I personally have never been a fan of this arrangement, although it does look cool in pictures.

Size. To one degree or another, my bookshelf arrangement has to be determined by size, since I have the bottom shelf for big tall books, and the little bitty top shelf that will fit only a select few books.

Vertically or Horizontally stacked. This can include books stacked two or even three levels deep. I’m not a fan of this, either, as you can’t see the books in the back row, but it can be the most economical for space.

Wall of Books Divided Up with Display Objects. An artsy way of displaying books, if one has enough space. I like the idea of using the knick-knacks to enhance the books, like putting a dragon figurine on the shelf with the epic fantasy.

This is my smallest and shortest shelf, so very few books fit on it. This series fits – mostly, except for two books which are too tall, and have to lie on their side. An imperfect arrangement, in my opinion.

What Bookshelf? Also known as stacks on tables, in corners, and yes you have to move books to get at the laundry hamper. I’m keeping this option as an absolute last resort.

What’s your favorite way to display/arrange your books? What’s your recommendation for my bookshelves?


2 thoughts on “Book Nerd Problems: Organizing Your Bookshelf

  1. Ooh, wouldn’t we all love to have a “Beauty and the Beast” library? I still want to find one of those rolling ladders and go nuts. I’ve seen them at Barnes & Noble a couple times and had to resist the urge to do anything about it, hehe . . .

    In theory, I’d love to organize my books by spine color, but I know I’d get too uptight about possibly having to separate authors or series. Right now I only own one shelf, so the bottom two shelves are reserved for my absolute favorite books I go back to time and time again for rereading, and the upper shelves are for books I haven’t read yet. I sort those by genre/theme so when deciding what I want to read next, I can look at the fantasy or thriller section and easily find something that matches my mood.


    • I’m thinking genre/theme is the way I’m going to go (except for where shelf size dictates a certain book or not). While I love the appearance of the color-arranged shelf, I think it would drive me nuts, too. I’d wind up separating authors or series, and that just wouldn’t do. 😉


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