20 September 2014

Here's How to Arrange Your Bookshelf: 7 Methods, Plus Tips

As we all know, a reader's personal library (in addition to any library ever established) is their sanctuary. And as you have probably heard, regularly cleaning areas such as bedrooms or workspaces can have benefits for your mind, sleep, and of course your social life -- as much as your friends definitely love you, they might not love spending time in your cluttered house.

This isn't a post in which I will encourage you to evacuate your home of all remote filth. (Sorry if that paragraph gave you the wrong first impression.) Let's focus on the small things first -- like how to organise your bookshelves.

Yes, there are people who find fun or solace in cleaning (good for them) but not everybody can motivate themselves to accomplish the act. In my experience, though, my bookshelf is one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile things in my entire house to clean. In other words: I like to arrange my bookshelves.

Listen up and keep reading: Here's how you can learn to like it too.


7 Ways to Order Your Bookshelf


1. Alphabetically, by the title of the book/series

Nice and easy, plain and simple. You know the deal: The Lord of the Rings comes before The Mortal Instruments. Percy Jackson & The Olympians precedes Pride and Prejudice. You take it from there.

2. Alphabetically, by the author's surname

This is how a lot of bookstores do it. And hey, it works, doesn't it?

3. In rainbow-colour order (or reverse rainbow-colour order)

Just in case your primary school art classes have eluded you, the colours of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. It takes time and scrutiny, but once you've put the final book in its place, you will feel entirely fulfilled.


Not as easy as it looks.
Image via http://www.booksbiscuitsandtea.co.uk/.

4. By the book's genre

If you're the kind of reader who has pledged loyalty to a certain genre and adamantly stands by it, then this might be the method for you. If that's the case, too, then you'll likely have a shelf that is more than half covered with stories of a certain genre, followed by only a small number of miscellaneous books. Be it adventure, crime, romance, sci-fi, YA, what have you -- Let's all agree that genres are awesome.

5. By the book's size

You know what? Sometimes it's nice to see something is descending order. It's pleasing to the eye. So, why not do the same for your books? (You can also go totally wild and decide on ascending order, you mad rebel you.)

6. Based upon how often you read certain books

Why? For convenience, primarily. This method helps you recognise which stories you reach for most often (if they aren't extremely familiar to you already). Just don't forget about the tens or possibly hundreds of other books in your vicinity.

Another idea to consider is as follows: at the end of one or two or three years, choose some of your lesser-read novels and donate them (if they're of good quality). You can try to take them to a local library, a school library, or a thrift store. Most people will accept free books, I promise.

Side note: If you own a bookshelf that single-handedly houses hundreds of books, then call me jealous.

7. In order of your favourite books

This is sort of similar to the last point, because oftentimes our most-loved books are also our most-read books. If yours usually are not, then consider this method. Not to mention, when you present your bookcase to your guests, you can avoid having to respond to the question "So which one's your favourite?" with a complicated answer.


Exhibit A: My Own Shelf


I prefer to place books in my shelf only after I read them. When I purchase a new story and bring it home, I place it on my desk instead. This separates the books that I've already finished from those that I still need to start, and prevents confusion.


The top of the bookcase, and the first shelf.
Image property of The Book Club.


The second and third shelves.
Image property of The Book Club.


The fourth (bottom) shelf.
Image property of The Book Club.

(Sorry guys, I need to invest in a decent camera.)


On the first shelf and on the left half of the second shelf are my fiction books, organised alphabetically by author surname. On the second shelf, immediately after that (laid on their sides) are my DVDs -- also alphabetised. The blue diagonal book is a copy of the Bible, and the thick horizontal books after it are reference books, including:
  • a dictionary (over 1,675 pages long)
  • a Spanish-English dictionary
  • a poetry anthology
  • a thesaurus by Merriam-Webster
  • a sketching tutorial book
  • a guide to horse care that my mother's cousin bought for me (she's a large animal veterinarian whom I used visit once a year to satisfy my love of horses
On the third shelf, and on the first half of the fourth, are fiction books that are part of a series (for example: Maximum Ride, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, etc.). These are also organised alphabetically by author's last name.

On the second half of the fourth (bottom) shelf are miscellaneous books, such as school yearbooks, books I've written, scrapbooks, and photo albums. Atop the bookshelf are my manga books and graphic novels.


What to Do When Your Bookshelf's Looking Bare

Well, first of all, go buy more books. If there is extra space on your shelves, why not fill it with more novels?

Otherwise, look in other directions for inspiration. Scroll up a little and take another glimpse at my own bookshelf: you'll see on the second shelf and on top of the bookcase that I have several owls. (I love owls, if you must guess.) Atop the bookshelf I also have a custom-made Harry Potter wand: more details about that in this post.

Search for trinkets that make you happy. Anything and everything goes: framed photographs, certificates, or artwork; snowglobes; dolls; trophies and awards; even lotions and perfumes, if you'd like to store them on your bookshelf -- it's yours and yours alone.

Try other decorations, too; garlands and fairy lights are fair game. Attach a hook to the side of the bookcase and dangle from it a dreamcatcher, some pretty knotted ribbons, or even something practical like clothing (from a hanger) or a feather duster. If you don't want to frame art for your shelves, then use Scotch tape to secure it to the side of the bookcase (this definitely works best when the artwork is done on paper -- as in, a drawing or sketch).

Don't forget about Washi tape, which has formed a new trend recently when it comes to home decor. Megan at Honey We're Home has some pretty good insight. If you would appreciate more ideas for Washi tape, go ahead and peruse BuzzFeed's compilation or skim through Homedit's list.

Books are treasures, so treat them right; give them a good home to live in.


How do you arrange your shelves? Do you have any decorating tips for fellow readers? Let us know in a comment or two.

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