How to Organize Your Book Shelves

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Intellectual Humiliation

Confront your own ignorance.

How to Organize Your Book Shelves

If you’re anything like me and spend a ungodly amount of money on physical books instead things you actually need, like rent or food, then you might have an overflowing book shelve that looks something like this: 

It wasn’t until a friend of mine asked for a book loan for her beach holiday that I decided there had to be better ways to organize my book shelves besides just laying them out from biggest to smallest or by the author. So I did some snooping around in how BookTubers, interior designers and authors organize their book shelves and came up with some great ideas:

Give Away Books You Don’t Read Anymore

And before all the book addicts throw their books at me, and quote me back the meme from Lord of the Rings about how one doesn’t stop buying books because one doesn’t have book shelves space, hear me out. Books are things. Important things that we learned something from. Things we might consult often if the need be. Things that look great in 2020 when we were having those digital coffee dates. Things that allow us to feel superior and smarter to our friends because we have more of. And yet they’re still things. Things that occupy a lot of space for the amount of joy and utility they bring. Yes, you might have that one favorite book or series you go back to every year (for me it will always be Vampire Academy), but for the most part and apart form an aesthetic point there is just not that good a reason to keep all your read book on your ever thinning book shelve space. So let’s do a compromise: keep the books that can comfortably fit in your book shelve, and donate a book you haven’t read in a long time to your local library. That way do you know only increase the knowledge and amount of people who might love a book you once loved, but you clear up space for more books. 

Go By Color

This one is the most obvious one, and also in my case, the hardest to accomplish strangely enough. There’s just something about the kind of physical books I read that makes it impossible for me to organize my book shelve based on the colors scheme of their covers. Maybe the books I choose just have too weird art directors or maybe I just use the laziest method to organize my book shelves: height. But if you want to impress your friends and your boss with your aesthetic prowess I would suggest you use the rainbow. Blue with blue, green with green, yellow with yellow, etc. Or just use the Chromatic Circle: any color you choose contrast it with the one opposite the wheel. Ie: blue colors would contrast with orange, red with green, violet with yellow, etc. 


Now this is the second most obvious one and the one that very few of us actually do. Actually, I’ve never met anyone who organizes their book shelves by author, and yet it would be the most convenient thing to do for one can find books quite easily instead of having to browse for hours for the book your looking for. My question here is, which word do you choose? Should your organize it by author’s name? Last name? Series title? Subtitle? I leave for you to choose, just make sure it’s done alphabetically. 

By Publishing Date

This one seemed weird when someone suggested it to me, but it made sense when they explained it: books you put on the book shelves are there to be displayed, not read, otherwise they’d be on your night stand, not your book shelve, so why not organize them by the date they were published? You could always label your book shelves with different dates and brag to your friend about your OCD.

Give a Genre

An obvious one, but one that seems to be the most helpful when you have friends over who are looking through your book shelves. Or more like, when you’re doing it. The thing about book shelves is that they’re incredibly personalized and intimate part of your mind that’s on display. They’re the library to your intellect, literally; and despite the fact that you might know what each and everyone of those books are and say, other people don’t. Actually, aside from some cultural hits most of us don’t even know who or what 90% of other people’s books are about or who wrote them. So, it would be incredibly neat if someone would take their time to define to whom they’re catered too.


Do you primarily read books that take place outside of your home country? What about your home planet? Or reality? Well this is another method in which you could label and organize your books. You don’t necessarily have to organize them by the setting the story takes place, try being a little more creative about it, like say, where the author is from, or the publishing house, or where you read the book for the first time, or bought it. There are different methods for this category. 

By How Much You Like Them

Because unlike an actual child everyone has a favorite book/author/genre. Don’t deny it. We do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Book shelves are a display in your house about your own intellect, so why not use it to display which books deserved five stars, and which books deserved to be behind those books you have four stars. 

By the Day You Got Them

Jus keep the last purchase at the bottom and the new purchases at the top and keep moving your books clock wise whenever you buy a new one. It’s only a pain mostly because you’d have to keep arranging the book at the bottom to find the one on the top, unless you have enough space in your house for new book shelves ever time.

To Be Read and Read

And finally, this is the way I personally organize the haul of books I have on my night stand: the ones that yet have to be read I have on my right and the one that I’m currently reading or re-reading go on the left. I don’t have to explain that the pile of to be read has grown inmensely more than the pile of read, but as a constant book reader and lover you know what I mean.

And there you have it. Some methods to organize your increasingly dusting and overflowing book shelves. How do your keeps your books in order?

I´m Victoria Marulanda

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