How Should You Arrange Your Bookshelf?

Posted January 27, 2017 by Anissa in Uncategorized / 17 Comments

There comes a time in life for a bookworm when you suddenly realize you just can’t stand how your books are arranged. It’s happened to the best of us. I usually can’t go more than a couple of months without reorganizing my books for the hundredth time. Once, I organized my shelves and loved it, then rearranged them all three days later. And then rearranged them AGAIN a month later. Let’s face it, you’ve probably been at that point too when your books are just getting on your nerves with how they’re arranged. You feel as if they’re challenging you somehow, questioning your sorting skills and making you question if you’re a good little book nerd after all. Well, I’m here to bestow knowledge upon thee who are looking for a different way of arranging your shelves. I hereby promise that your books are safely in my hands and I will guide you as best I can.

LET THE SORTING BEGIN!!!!!! Anyone know where the sorting hat is?


There are actually quite a few ways to organize your books by color. One way is to do color-blocking. You could also arrange your books by putting white and black books in between colors to act as separators. Of course, you could do a rainbow bookshelf which is how I have my shelves. Not only does it look really neat but it also has the power to make a room appear cleaner and more organized. It’s truly magical how a rainbow sorting system can really bring a room together. There are also a few more ways of organizing rainbow shelves. Here are some images to help you see the other options to choose from:


Photo #1: The Order Obsessed                Photo #2: Unknown                                    Photo #3: @PaperFury



Just like a good ole’ library, you could always keep it simple and arrange your books by genre. I personally tried this method and I quite liked it. It allowed me to see just how many books I had in each genre and also helped me to see what my favorites were based on how many books I had in each genre. It’s a great method if you want a simple system that really doesn’t take too much thought other than the layout. One thing I did to help me see all my genres at a glance is I made labels with each genre written down on a piece of paper and stuck them onto my shelves to mark which shelves had which genres. Of course, there are those tricky books that are hard to place because they’re both this genre and that genre. However you choose to sort your genres, just make sure it makes sense to you and it’ll all work out.

Photo Credit: Good Keen Librarian


This one is for all of my fellow nerds out there! This one might take a little longer for you to sort through and arrange but if you’re willing to do the work, then hear me out. You could sort your books based on the time periods the books are set in. Starting with Ancient Greece, into the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, 18th Century, and so on. It’s a neat little way to stay organized and makes it easy to pick from should you feel like reading historical fiction or something more futuristic. Another way to do this is to sort your books based on what year they were published. It’s like a yearly calendar of the past but in book form, am I right?


Another classy way to organize your books is obviously in alphabetical order. You could do it by author name, either first or last name, or you could go by the book title, excluding the words “the” and “a” since they don’t count. You could change it up by also going backward and instead start with the letter Z and going until you reach the letter A. It’s a little quirky but still adds a little twist to this classic sorting system.


This can apply to any of the above sorting systems. All you’d be doing is simply stacking the books instead standing them up like most people do. There are some arguments around the internet that state stacking books is bad while others say it’s one of the safest ways to store books, some even saying it’s safe as long as there are no more than five books in a stack. Some say eight. It really just depends on you. You could stack only your smaller, thinner books or your bigger, beefier books. Or you could add stacks of books throughout your shelves, leaving some books standing up to separate the stacks. It looks quite cool if you go with a basket weave type pattern such as this one:

Photo #1: Source Unknown                                                 Photo #2: Gali Cnaani


Another interesting option is to wrap your books in kraft or wrapping paper so that they’re all cohesive and writing the titles on the spines or using letter stamps to spell out the titles. You could then sort them all based on the earlier options. This option is mainly used for organizing art books, coffee table books, or for only a few books at a time for decor purposes. But if you’re up for a challenge or are truly dedicated to the book sorting game, this one is a nice option to have in mind.

Photo Credit: Pine To The Pacific


So those are all the options I have for you all! If you choose to try one of these out, then I wish you the very best with all your magical book sorting powers! Which one of these options do you think you’ll be trying out? How do you have your books sorted? Is it a specific way or is it more of a combo of these few options?


17 responses to “How Should You Arrange Your Bookshelf?

  1. Oh boy. There’s a lot to this one 😛

    Mine are sorted by author last name. I’ve tried LOTS of variations.

    I did the color thing for several months, and I had a love/hate relationship with it. For the most part, I loved how it looked. Except that I’m OCD and some of the transitions were better than others. And I had no idea where to slip in the couple of bright blue books among all of the dark blue. And shades of orange are DIFFICULT. And peach just doesn’t fit anywhere. I also discovered at a good 30-40% of my books have black-ish spines. So I ended up with pretty colors and then black/brown. In a big clump. And that bugged me. But more importantly, I couldn’t FIND anything. I mean, there were a few books I just KNEW what color I was looking for, so that was okay. But especially with all those black spines, I just got lost. So I went back to sorting by author.

    I can’t really sort by genre unless I get SUPER specific. I read almost entirely fantasy. So for a while I had fantasy vs non-fantasy. But then I felt like my non-fantasy books were in time-out or something, so I mixed them back in.

    I like the idea of trying chronological. Then I could at least (usually) keep most series together. The historical fantasy that’s in a made-up world might be a bit tough to place, but I think I could do it by lining up technology or random other references or something. It WOULD be kind of cool to see the historical vs modern vs futuristic that way!

    I’ve never really stacked books until recently. I’m running out of usable bookspace just because I’ve been leaving the bottom shelf empty now that I have an infant rolling around and eating things. So I’ve started stacking my large series instead of shelving them side-by-side. It looks kind of cool because it really draws the eyes / showcases those series/authors that I own a TON of. Which I view as a good thing, since that typically means those are favorites to one extent or another.

    I can’t imagine having the patience to WRAP all of my books! Also, you don’t get to see pretty colors! If I had just a few all hardcover books and wanted the decor to match in a room that had a lot of guests, I might consider it but otherwise … Did I mention that I’m a bit OCD? I think I’d lose my mind trying to get the folds just right.

    Great post!

    ~ Michelle @ FaerieFits

    • Oh yes, I have a few sections of my shelves where the transitions aren’t as smooth as others and IT BUGS ME! I’m too much of a perfectionist so I’m constantly moving my books around to make everything look nice and neat. I’m really glad you liked some of the organization methods! I think stacking books can be really fun, especially since you said you stack your larger series. Totally a great way to showcase them!

      Yeah that last one was a bit of a stretch but I thought I’d include it anyway. Personally, I’m not that patient either plus I also like seeing the pretty spines 😀

  2. Haha, it’s always a little awkward when I see another book organisation post, because despite being possibly the most anal-retentive person ever in all other areas of my life, I actually do not have that much of a system to organising my books? Mostly I do a combination of stacking & upright shelving, but truly, it’s all based on what books I think would look lovely together. I do have enormous respect for those who have the energy/commitment to organise their volumes in a fancier way, though! And, dear Anissa, how sacrilegious that you wrote a shelving post yet didn’t grace us with photos of your own shelves – any chance we’ll be getting a peek any time soon? <3

    • Lol I had my shelves organized once upon a time ago based on where my books looked best on my shelves. It quickly got out of hand, however, for me personally because I just started shoving them wherever they fit on the shelves! Well, since you mentioned it, I will totally include some pictures of my shelves in an upcoming post! I didn’t even think to show my shelves, to be honest XD

  3. I don’t have enough books to actually worry about this lol. But I still have an opinion! Lol. I love the way color organized shelves look, but, for me, I don’t if I could ever do that because I like to keep series together, and series aren’t always the same color. It’d bother me too much to have them separated. And as a teen, I had a really weird shelving method. I had just a small bookshelf with three shelves, a few feet long, and on the top shelf was my absolute favorite books/series, the bottom shelf was school required reading and books I didn’t like as much, and I guess the middle shelf was books I was in the middle about? It’s been a while lol, but I know I had faves on the top!

    • That’s actually a really neat way of organizing your books! I know a few people who keep all their favorite books and series on a specific shelf and have other shelves dedicated to their TBR, least favorites, etc. I have my own shelves organized by color and I get what you mean, I can’t stand for my series to be separated! Instead, I took the first book of the series and put it in its color grouping but I also put the rest of the books in that series in front of it, that way it’s still organized by color but my series are all together XD It’s a bit strange but it works for me!

  4. I hadn’t heard of the DIY option. I love the colored ones but I have too many of the same colors to really pull that off, haha. Mine are mostly by genre and hardcovers/paperbacks and size… Sort of. I have a weird organization going on. 😀

    • Lol I think all readers have had that awkward organization phase when it comes to their bookshelves. I know I’ve been there multiple times XD But if the system makes sense to you then more power to you!! <3

  5. Wow, there are just so many options! 🙂
    My own books are currently organised into genres, and then each genre is organised into books that are similar colours and styles, just so it looks neater. It has been bothering me for a while though, so i feel like I’ll need to rearrange them again soon! 🙂
    Great post! 🙂

    • That sounds like a really neat system! I honestly never would have thought of that. When I had my books arranged by genre, they looked messy after a while, mainly because they didn’t fit together style and color wise XD I hope the reorganization goes well for you in the future!!

  6. It is SO hard to know how to arrange your bookshelves – I never know how and I want to change this every two days hahaha. My books are sorted out by color, for now, but…it’s annoying when there aren’t the same shades of orange and pink and it doesn’t look perfect – or maybe I am a teeny bit of a perfectionist? Haha. Lovely post! 🙂

    • Oh I totally understand! Especially the pinks that are also a bit orange and vise-versa, it drives me INSANE not knowing where to put it! And don’t even get me started on the color mint and maroon XD

  7. onceuponabookishnerd

    I’ve been meaning to organize my bookshelf and this was the perfect article to see all the choices I have! Thanks! I’m thinking sticking with the organizing by author name….I like when my books that are in a series are together 🙂

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