Manolo for the Home » How Do You Organize Your Bookshelves?

How Do You Organize Your Bookshelves?

By Christa Terry

Full disclosure: My bookshelves are not organized in any particular way. In fact, they aren’t organized at all. Books are tossed onto my bookshelves willy-nilly, some upright, some sideways. When I’m done with a book, I often put it any old place instead of figuring out where it came from. Part of the problem is that the majority of our books live in the basement den where The Beard has his home office, and I tend to care less about that space than I do about the rest of the house.

Colorful bookshelves

So here’s me asking you:

Feel free to expound on your answer in the comments!

12 Responses to “How Do You Organize Your Bookshelves?”

  1. Jo Says:

    I organize mine by subject, and then by author within subject. I like being able to find things, and I could never do that if I did it by color.

    Although I love the look of those bookshelves! *sigh*

  2. Sarah J Says:

    I too organize by subject, but by size as well.

  3. Kai Jones Says:

    I have 5 bookcases (3 in the living room and 2 in my den) plus a shelf in the kitchen. Like Jo, or like most libraries, mine are organized by subject and then author. Some subjects have more than one entire bookcase: science fiction/fantasy is more than 2 bookcases, reference is one entire bookcase plus the kitchen shelf in the kitchen (cookbooks) and another shelf in my den (US history plus sewing, knitting, and beading books).

    One of the bookcases in my den is just all my favorite books from childhood on, because it cheers me to be surrounded by my favorite things, and to read the titles and remember the pleasure each book has given me.

    My husband and I did not merge libraries when we married (nor will we), and he has his own system and his own set of bookcases (he has 4). We need more bookcases but really we’re running out of places to put them. Not enough wall/floor space! I’d love to have custom shelves built in the dining room on every wall surface, even over the doors and windows.

  4. emily Says:

    I also organize mine by subject, and then by author, like Jo. I also love how this bookcase looks.

  5. Raven1025 Says:

    Fiction is alphabetical by author, non-fiction alphabetical by subject (these live on bookshelves in the living room), theater books/plays are alpha by author (these live on a bookshelf in the office–we are theater/art peeps), my hubbies IT books of various kinds live on a different shelf in the office, but I don’t know how he organizes them. Cookbooks are in the kitchen, I have so few that they don’t really need to be organized. Cocktail recipe books are on the bar in a stack largest on the bottom, smallest on the top. Oh, and we have our coffee table books in stacks on the shelf on the bottom of the coffee table. Comic books are in plastic comic book size totes by series.

    I *think* that covers all our books. I would love to have them according to hue…but then I wouldn’t be able to find them to read them when I wanted to!!

  6. Little Red Says:

    Same here at least for the ones I display. The rest are in a plastic containers and hidden away in a closet.

  7. sidian Says:

    Non-fiction vs fiction. Non-fiction arranged by subject. Fiction arranged alphabetically by author. Books that have been read/are being read are scattered around the house.

  8. CVS Says:

    I sort mine alphabetically by author until I run out of space then the new books go roughly in the right place on top of the currently shelved books. My husband sorts by subject.

  9. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    I organize mine mostly by subject or author, and within that, by size, or however they tend to look best. Most of the books are stored vertically, with the odd horizontal stack to break things up and keep it looking interesting.

    Yeah, I put way too much thought into it. But at least when all else in my house is chaos, my bookshelves look like something from a magazine.

  10. JR Says:

    Alphabetical by author within fiction. Alphabetical by title within author, unless it’s a series which is chronological.

    Alphabetical by author within subject for nonfiction.

    I can’t find anything otherwise.

  11. Stella Says:

    As an apartment dweller, I’ve been trying to take books out at the library instead of buying them. (If I bought every book I read, there’d be no room for me in my place!) I have my non-fiction/school books separate from my fiction, but that’s as far as I organize them. Someday when I have a house, I’d love to have a library… when I do, it wouldn’t be organized by color though. Sometimes I wonder if those people go to garage sales and just buy up books in the colors they need with no regard to subject matter… most of my books are black/white/neutral colored, they wouldn’t make a very good rainbow.

  12. class factotum Says:

    Stella, I can’t afford to buy everything I read, either. One of the reasons we bought our house is that it’s three blocks from the library. My books are stacked on my nightstand and then they go home to the library when I’m through reading them.

    I do, however, lie awake at night and wonder how on earth my husband and I will clean out his parents’ house when they either die or move into assisted living. In addition to all the crap clutter they have on every single surface except the ceiling, they have lots of books (FIL is a retired English prof). If it were up to me, I would call the Salvation Army and tell them to take everything away, but my husband is far more sentimental than I and also likes to have books. Part of his liking comes from not having moved about 40 times in his life, I think. I dread having that collection move into our home.

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