Are you a self-proclaimed bibliophile, or person who loves to collect and read books?
Do you want some thoughtful tips on how to organize all those books in your collection?
From favorite genres, to favorite authors, to favorite characters, everyone has favorites when it comes to reading.
When it comes to actually organizing a collection of books, however, things can become a bit overwhelming.
This can happen if you have the smallest of bookshelves in your bedroom or an entire room (or more!) full of bookcases in your home.
But, what’s the best way to organize your books?
Well, that’s up to you to decide!
In this post, I offer a collection of fifteen different ways to organize books on your shelves.
Keep in mind, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to organize your personal book collection.
It’s all up to your personal preferences and tastes.
After all, what’s the use in having a personal library if you cannot reference, use, and enjoy the titles you’ve so carefully curated?
Feel free to use the organization methods below, or mix and match any combination of methods to create your own unique system.
Organize Books on Shelf: 15 Ways to Organize Your Library at Home
Organizing books by author last name is a common method to keep a library organized. We all know we can find books organized by author in some capacity or another in public and private libraries, as well as bookstores.
This organizing method can be very useful if you have several books by the same author or a collection of favorite authors.
What could be simpler than organizing your books in alphabetic order by author’s last name starting with the letter A and ending with the letter Z?
Organize by author last name on each shelf. Depending on the size of your home, office, bookcases, and book collection, you could designate a shelf for author last names starting with the letter A, a shelf for authors last names starting with the letter B, and so on.
Organize by range of author last name. You could organize by author last name from A-G, H-L, M-Q, and so on. What’s more, you can create whatever range of author last name you’d like.
Organize by author last name starting with the letter Z and ending with the letter A. Sometimes it can help to view a collection through a different organizational style.
Organize by author first name. Similarly, perhaps you recall books better by author first name, rather than last name. If so, you might want to give this technique a try.
Organizing books by their length is a handy, tactile-based way to keep track of your collection.
This method makes it easy to not only physically hold and store books in a pinch, but it allows you to quickly scan your collection for books that are super-skinny or super-chunky.
You’ll know right off the bat if you’re looking at a tome of classic works or a compact novella.
The premise here is a cinch: store books with fewer pages with one another and store books with more pages with one another.
Organize books on different shelves. Try placing thinner books towards the top of a bookcase, and heavier books on the bottom on a bookcase.
Organize books on the same shelf. Balance out a shelf with thicker books interspersed between collections of thinner books.
Organizing by book measurement is a useful way to keep tabs on the different physical size of books. Not only can it be aesthetically pleasing, but it can be extremely practical, too.
If you’re visually inclined or enjoy the tactile nature of handling books, this may be a potential organization method for you.
Organize by book height. Line ‘em up! Try organizing books of similar height with one another.
Organize by overall book dimensions. This method is oh-so clean and tidy: organize books with similar dimensions with one another.
Looking for a colorful way to display your book collection in your home or office? You may want to try organizing your books by color.
This unique organizing approach can add some instant style and decor to any interior. Similar colors make for a very pretty palette; you simply gather any and all books with similar cover colors and organize these books together on a shelf or table.
For example, you could organize yellow books with yellow books, purple books with purple books, orange books with orange books, and so on.
Organize by the color wheel. Organize books according to the handy abbreviation ROYGBIV, which is an abbreviation for the colors, red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet. You can include black and white books anywhere you see fit.
Organize by color and black/white. Make a general sort of your books and organize them by color on one side, and black and white on the other.
Dewey Decimal System
Are you a fan of the book classification system used in libraries? If so, you may be interested organizing books according to the Dewey Decimal System.
In a nutshell, this system organizes books by subject, followed by author last name. The general classes of the Dewey Decimal System are as follows:
000 – Computer science, information & general works
100 – Philosophy and Psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social Sciences
400 – Language
500 – Natural Sciences
600 – Applied Sciences and Technology
700 – Arts and Recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History, Geography, and Biography
Of course, the Dewey Decimal System takes a lot more time and effort to catalogue, label, and shelve.
But, if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and/or don’t mind the work, this could be the right system for you!
How do you use your books? That is, how do you interact with your books?
Do you read intriguing historical fiction, whip up delicious meals with the help of a cookbook, or practice problem sets in a mathematics workbook?
If you find yourself using certain books or collections of books in specific manners, then you may want to organize your books by their functionality.
Organize books by reading only and interaction level. In this method, you can sort books that you read from books that you build, construct, learn, or refer to on a regular basis.
Organize by book interaction. If you want to take things one step further, you can organize your books by the type of interactions you have with them. Some ideas include: workbooks, reflection books, coloring books, puzzle books, cookbooks, reference, diaries, and notebooks.
Organizing books by genre is a great way to keep similar titles among one another. It’s an obvious way to store and locate books, not to mention browse for your favorites!
Whether it’s drama, fantasy, tall tales, biographies, or nonfiction, you can create organize your books by standard genre categories and subcategories.
Organize alphabetically by genre. This makes it easy to quickly find specific genres.
Organize by genre preference. You can organize genres from your most to least favorite, or any combination in between.
Do you read and speak more than one language? Lucky you! You’ve got access to a world of even more books to read and enjoy.
If you own a varied book collection, you may want to try organizing your books by language. This makes it easy to locate your favorite Romanian romance or Nepalese non-fiction in a pinch.
Organize by language proficiency. Are you more fluent in Mandarin than you are in French? Try organizing your books by your proficiency level in a certain language, such as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced.
Organize by country of origin. Besides organizing by language, you can also organize by country of origin. Some countries do recognize more than one official language.
Organize by continent. Group your books together by their continent of origin. This makes it a breeze to locate your favorites from a certain geographic region.
Are you working on a project or a series of projects or assignments for work, home, or school? Maybe you’re working on a marketing project for work, a personal health project at home, and a biology project for school.
If so, then you can keep your work organized by keeping books used for a particular project with one another. This makes it easy to find what you need whenever you sit down to work on your project.
Organize books by project deadline. Working on a rapidly approaching deadline for a particular project? Make sure your books are poised front and center for quick and easy access.
Organize books by project length. Keep books used for smaller projects with one another: they’ll be easier to locate when you need them. Save massive collections of books for larger projects and store them on a bookcase shelf or dedicated bookcase.
Books are wonderful barometers of historical, social, political, economic, and even personal change!
What’s more, tracking the progress of knowledge and learning can be quite an interesting adventure.
If you’re into historical or chronological reference, you may want to consider organizing your books by publication date.
Organize by year. Looking for a quick look at your reading habits over the past few years? Try organizing your books chronologically by publication year.
Organize by decade. Organizing books by decade makes for a great historical snapshot.
Organize by century. Have a collection of books that span the centuries? Try organizing your collection chronologically by century.
Publisher or Publishing House
Are you a diehard fan of specific book publishers or publishing houses? Do you have a favorite graphic design publishing house or a preferred health-based publisher?
If so, you can keep your collection in ship-shape order by organizing your books according to their publisher.
Organize publishers alphabetically. Make it easy to find publishers by organizing alphabetically by publishing house.
Organize by most to least favorite publisher. Keep your favorites front and center by organizing books from most to least favorite publishing house.
Want an easy way to keep track of your recent book purchases? Looking to read through your book collections in a timely manner? It’s as simple as organizing books according to their purchase or acquisition date.
You don’t have to get super-technical or detailed: start out by organizing your books by more recently purchased books versus older ones. Should you desire, you can refine your organization method even further in future.
Organize books by month. Keep up to date with the latest publications by organizing your books by month. You can keep your holiday purchases separate from your summertime reading stacks!
Organize books by year. Still working through a massive collection of books? Organize by year to get a bird’s eye view of where you stand in your reading.
What’s in a name…or a book title? Plenty!
This organization method works well if you relate well and easily recall books by their titles.
The method of title organization is up to you: you can organize books alphabetically from A to Z, or any combination in-between.
Organize by first letter in title. This setup makes titles easy-peasy: if a title starts with the word “A,” organize it underneath the letter “A.” Similarly, if a title starts with “The” organize it underneath the letter, “T.”
Organize by the first noun, verb, adjective, or adverb in title. Skip definite and indefinite articles entirely. This method requires organizing by the first noun, verb, adjective, or adverb in the title.
A quick and handy way to organize books is to go by that old industry favorite: paperback and hardcover books. Chances are you’ve got books of each type sitting in your library.
Why not streamline your collection by organizing items according to their type?
Once you’ve got books organized by this broad category, you can add in any of the organization methods described in this post.
How often do you use that traditional casserole cookbook? How about that collection of short stories? What about that best-selling self-help book?
If you read and interact with books by varying degrees over the course of a day, week, month, or year, you may want to try organizing your books by usage.
All you have to do is consider how frequently you use a book, or a set of books, and shelve them accordingly for your needs.
Organize by frequency of use. You can organize books by how frequently you interact with a title, be it daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, biannually, or some other distinction.
Organize by calendar usage. Do you use specific books during different times of the year, say holiday recipe books in the winter or poems in the summer? You may want to organize your collection by calendar usage.
Organize by location. Do you use certain books for work and certain books for bedtime reading? If so, you may want to organize your books by location.
How about you? How do you like to organize your books? Which of the above method are you going to introduce to your collection? Are you going to try any of the methods above? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!