Case Studies: On Bookshelf Organization


Case studies, book cases… see what I did there?! Oh dear, please ignore me. This habit for puns is getting out of control.

I love bookshelves. I’m not talking about beautifully designed bookshelves that spark admiration and conversation (although I love those, too), but just having a bookshelf. I think a person’s bookshelves say a lot about her, and I love being able to display the books I’ve read and plan to read. It feels so autobiographical: here’s where I’ve been, and here’s where I want to go. The titles a person has on her bookshelf are just so representative of her personality and what she cares about!

When I moved into my off-campus apartment last summer, the thing I was most excited about (after finally getting my own room) was being able to bring my bookshelf from home. Finally, I could have all of my books with me, in one lovely place — even if my shelf is crammed into a corner of my bedroom and partially hidden by my record player stand, which I moved for these photos! I do actually sit and stare at my bookcase for 10 minute spans sometimes. (Is that weird?) Books are just so pretty to look at! I think about what the titles represented say about me and different ways I can organize them. I messed around with my bookshelf organization yesterday, pulling all my books out of the case and rearranging them a few different ways. I ended up putting them back in nearly the same way as before, but I had a lot of fun playing with them — especially arranging them by color!

Although the top shelf looked really colorful and wonderful, the effect didn’t work as well with the black and white books. As you can see, the second shelf is super boring. There were also quite a few books that had very multicolored spines and didn’t seem to fit into the color gradient at all. It’s definitely a cool way to arrange books, but I think it probably works better with a bigger collection where you can have the pretty, colorful books in one place, and maybe the black/white books somewhere else. For me, they spoiled the effect a little. I actually had my books organized this way for a while over the summer, and while it was pretty, I hated the lack of traditional organization. When I’m looking for a book, I want to know where I can find it! My collection isn’t big enough to really make finding a certain book a challenge, but I prefer to know exactly how to find my chosen title.

So, my shelf is back to normal now. Fiction sorted by author followed by non-fiction sorted by author dominate the top two shelves. The bottom shelf has poetry, travel books sorted by type (travel narratives, then guides sorted by destination), music sorted by topic (books from my record label internship, music and culture books, pop/rock music history, band/musician bios), and textbooks. You can’t tell in the above picture, but I keep my “to read” books stacked on top of my bookcase. I feel more organized with them separated; they are easier to find, for one thing, and I like being able to look at the pile of books I have to look forward to. Also, they won’t all fit on my shelves!

This organizational scheme works for me. I love organizing things and having everything in its proper place, so having different categories of books is perfect for me.

How do you organize your bookshelves?


6 thoughts on “Case Studies: On Bookshelf Organization

  1. Lol, I don’t :p

    I have about four and a half bookshelves scattered between two rooms, so it’s been years since I tried to organize them :p

    I keep meaning to get to it, but it never happens….

    Love the bright colors on the shelf though! looks nice!

  2. I loved reading this, especially your comment that a bookshelf can feel so autobiographical. Very true! I rearrange my bookshelves every now and then – I can never settle on a particular way of organizing my books! I’ve got a bookshelf in the living room that is all coffee table books and hardbacks. And then I’ve got bookshelves in a closet (no room for them anywhere else!) sorted by genre right now, but that’s the one that always changes. The bookshelf in my room is mostly my “pretty” books, as well as anything in my TBR pile. I hope to one day have a library, even if it’s small one, so my books won’t be scattered all over my house!

    • That sounds like a good organizational scheme! I always have so much trouble trying to sort books by genre, though; they seem to overlap so much. A library would be wonderful!

  3. Organising book shelves can be such a pain. I currently have 6-7 cases spread across 3 rooms. I have a sort-of system, but as soon as new books come in it collapses because I haver no space left to reorganise, except double stack.

    But I do love to sit and stare at my bookshelves.
    I also love doing the same for everyone elses shelves.

    (Btw, thank you for following my blog. Now I discovered yours and it looks so good!)

    • Wow, that’s impressive! I can imagine organizing that many books would be quite a difficult task!

      (I read your latest Sunday Salon post that Jillian linked to and really liked it. Thanks for following back :))

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