5 Creative Ways Book Lovers Can Organize Their Shelves

What do you do when you’ve got hundreds, no, thousands of books? Every book lover has felt that feeling creep up on them. They’ve been letting their new finds pile up in one neglected corner for far too long, or else they’ve started doubling books up on their shelves. It’s time to reorganize; luckily, there are tons of new methods to inspire your next overhaul.

#1 Colour: Organizing by colour is on trend right now. When you own a huge book collection it can make a big impression. Your eyes can’t help but follow the progression of spines and covers. With enough space and books, you can even go up-down from light to dark while advancing through the colour spectrum left-to-right.

#2 Genre: If your tastes are varied, try sifting through books by genre or subject. It’s an intuitive way to organize book that just feels right. It will also encourage your eyes to wander when you revisit a subject. The more your bookshelves encourage you to go exploring through them again, the better. You could go by fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art, etc.

#3 Chronology: Organizing your bookshelf chronologically by publication date is a classic for English Lit grads. You’ve probably finished school with a mountain of books and textbooks ranging from all over history, from Virgil to Shakespeare to Haruki Murakami. Chronologically organized shelves are a great way to show off your classics. You might also want to consider reverse chronological; those hefty Norton anthologies can help stabilize a bookshelf if you place them on the bottom.

#4 Geographically: Show off your worldly tastes by organizing your bookshelf by geography. Of course, how you define geography is up to you. Do you go by the place the book was written? By the place the book is set? The place the author was born? It’s all up to you; just give some thought in advance about where Narnia is in relation to Hogwarts if you decide to go by setting.

#5 Autobiographically: Made famous by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (and the movie of the same name starring John Cusack), the autobiographical method is the most complicated on the list, and utterly indecipherable by anyone but you. The autobiographical method is essentially chronological for yourself, but there are plenty of ways you can play with it. You can sort books by important phases of your life: teen years, college, 20s, 30s; by phases of your literary tastes: the Jean Rhys years, the Elena Ferrante years; or even by the family, friends, and teachers who influenced you at the time you read it. Be warned: organizing your bookshelf autobiographically will launch a long process of self-examination. It’s kind of like the mid-life crisis for book lovers.

How you organize your bookshelves says a lot about yourself. Take your time, personalize your method, and change it up every now and then. You’re never going to have time to reread them all but reorganizing those shelves will bring them all back in a flash.