Imagine a world where finding the right book is as effortless as turning a page.
As an avid reader and professional organizer – not to mention the wife of an English teacher – I know firsthand the joy that comes from browsing through well-organized bookshelves, and being able to pull out the exact book you were looking for in minutes. I also know that each person has their own preferences for how to organize their books.
In this blog post, I’ll share some practical tips and different ways to organize your book collection.
But first, a couple of disclaimers because, after all, I am a Professional Organizer…
- Give digital books a try
If it works for your lifestyle, give ebooks or audiobooks a chance. This allows you to enjoy different reading experiences based on your mood, location, or activities – AND keeps the clutter at bay. Audiobooks are perfect for long car rides or while you’re soaking up the sun, while e-books offer convenience when you’re on the move. I get mine using Libby, an app that allows you to access ebooks and audiobooks for free from local libraries. When Libby doesn’t have a book, I use Audible and love that the book will stay in my collection so other members of my family can listen to it as well.
- Take advantage of local resources
I’m never one to tell you to give up what you love, though, so if the feel of a physical book is part of the experience, go for it. But ask yourself, is it really important to me to OWN each book I read? If yes, that’s fine – I have plenty of tips for you below. If not, please allow me to plug our wonderful local library system. It can save you so much money, and so much space in your home.
And now, for the books you do decide to own and love, SIX tips to keep your collection in shape:
Assess Your Collection:
Begin by taking stock of your book collection. Determine which books you want to keep, donate, or sell. Consider your reading preferences and the relevance of each book to your current interests. Letting go of books that no longer serve you will create space for new ones and declutter your shelves. Oftentimes we purchase books with the best of intentions, but it just sits on our shelves unread. Give yourself permission to let them go.
If you plan to donate books, not every donation center takes them. Locally in Annapolis, Books for International Goodwill accepts books 24/7. They have monthly sales with deeply discounted prices, so it’s also a great place to add to your collection!
Sort by Category or Genre:
Organize your books by category or genre to make them easier to find. Whether you prefer fiction, non-fiction, self-help, or cookbooks, grouping books by subject matter allows for efficient browsing and retrieval.
Sort by Color:
This can be a controversial one. I know hard-core book lovers like my husband scoff at the idea of organizing books by color. But, for kids who tend to remember books visually, rainbow order is a fantastic option! It’s also just really pretty and reduces visual clutter, so adults can definitely use it, too! Just don’t tell my husband! 🙂
Consider Alphabetical Order:
If you have a sizable collection, alphabetizing your books by the author’s last name can be a lifesaver. This arrangement helps you locate specific titles or authors quickly. Use alphabet dividers or labels to mark different sections, making it a breeze to maintain order.
Utilize Shelving Systems:
Invest in sturdy bookshelves that suit your space and aesthetic preferences. Adjustable shelves are particularly useful as they allow you to adapt the height to accommodate books of varying sizes. Consider incorporating floating shelves or bookcases for added storage and visual appeal. A few years ago we used an IKEA hack to turn Billy Bookcases into custom built-ins and it really transformed our library.
Create a Bookstore-like Display:
Creating a bookstore-like atmosphere can be a great way to enhance your reading experience. Arrange your books like you’d find at a bookstore, mixing vertical and horizontal orientations to add interest.
Add decorative objects, plants, or bookends to enhance the overall look and feel. Bookends are not only functional but also add charm to your book displays. Use decorative bookends or repurpose items like vintage vases, figurines, or even sturdy book holders to keep your books neatly in place.
Additionally, consider using organizers, such as magazine holders or baskets or clear bins, to corral smaller board books or oddly-shaped paperbacks. (This works especially well on kids’ bookshelves.)
Every good systems requires a little maintenance:
Keep your book collection organized by dedicating time for regular maintenance. Return books to their designated spots after reading, and resist the temptation to stack them haphazardly. As we like to say, “Don’t Put it Down, Put it Away!”
Periodically go through your collection, donating or selling books you no longer need. You’ll know when it’s time to do this because you’ll be out of space on your bookshelf!
Remember, organizing your books is a personal process, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Customize your organization system to suit your preferences and ensure that your books bring you joy and inspiration every time you browse your shelves.
If book organization is part of a larger home office project, be sure to read this blog for all of the inspiration you’ll need. And, in case you didn’t know, you can hire my team for a one-day “shelf styling” session. This is great if you have a large collection of books, photos, and memorabilia you’re just not sure how to display. Reach out to get on our schedule.
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…