7 Ways to Organize Your Bookshelves

So, my shelves have been in the same configuration for quite some time, and with the new year fast approaching, I felt it was time for a change! I came up with 6 new and different ways to organize my bookshelves, and tried them out to see what I liked best!

By Age Group / Alphabetical by Author

This is the way that my books have been organized for the past couple of years. I have really enjoyed having my books organized this way. It made sense to my brain, and it made it easy for me to find a book quickly. Each shelf was for a different age group: the left shelf was adult, middle was YA, and right was middle grade, non-fiction and graphic novels.

One thing that I did not like, and was ultimately the thing that spurred me to try something new, was that all of my unread books were mixed in with my already read books. This made it more difficult to see, at a glance, the books that I might want to add to my monthly TBR list.

Ultimately, I decided to make a separate TBR shelf! I wanted to keep all of my Book of the Month books together, because I like the way that they look on the shelf, but also because I am making it a goal for 2023 to try to get through all of my BOTM books. As for the rest of the shelf, I decided to go alphabetical by author’s last name. This is the easiest and fastest way for me to be able to find a book quickly, and I enjoy that utilitarian aspect of my TBR shelf.

Now, I just had to decide how I wanted to organize all of my already read books. I had many different options!

Alphabetical by Author’s Last Name

I first tried out organizing alphabetically by author’s last name. There were no other rules. If there were multiple books by the same author, I alphabetized them by title. But, apart from that, everything was fairly simple. Age groups were mixed, which I wasn’t sure about at first, but I found that it didn’t bother me so much after getting everything placed on the shelf.

Alphabetical by Author’s Last Name, but with Series Pulled Out

Next, I tried keeping the same system, but I pulled out any series that I had more than one book of on my shelf. I actually kind of liked this option, but I figured it would be a bit difficult to maintain, especially if I added many new series to my shelves in the future.

Series Pulled Out, then Organized by Genre and Alphabetical by Author’s Last Name

Since I enjoyed the look of the series being pulled out, I decided to try something different with the stand-alones. I separated them by genre, and kept them alphabetical by author’s last name within that genre. This was very pleasing to the librarian part of my brain. It was also reminiscent to the way I used to do my shelves several years ago. Because of that, I decided to try something else so I could try something new.

Organized by Genre with Age Groups Mixed

I decided to add the series back into their respective genres, but to keep the age groups mixed. So, this was by genre with adult, YA, and middle grade all mixed together.

Then, I decided to bite the bullet and try the kind of shelves that people have been asking of me for years…the rainbow shelf. I knew this was going to be an arduous task, but I wanted to try it out. So, I separated my books into various color piles on my floor. Please enjoy this picture of the devastation of my office 😂

Vertical Rainbow

I decided to try a vertical rainbow first. I actually really liked the look of this, but my husband said it was difficult to see where the color changes happened. I also realized that this would be harder to maintain as I added more books into the shelf as I read them.

Horizontal Rainbow

So, I switched it up and tried a horizontal rainbow. I did agree with my husband that the rainbow was more obvious this way. In the end, I finally had to agree that this was quite aesthetically pleasing and decided to keep this shelf arrangement.

I added in shelf decor in between the different colors so that I could spread out my books a bit more. I really like the way that this looks. It still has the rainbow effect, but it has the whimsy that I enjoy as well.

Here is the final product! I really enjoy the mix of utility and aesthetic ❤️ I have an empty shelf at the bottom, but I figure that just means I have room to grow!

How to you organize your bookshelves? Have to used any of the methods that I mentioned here? Let’s chat in the comments!

Love and happy reading,


6 thoughts on “7 Ways to Organize Your Bookshelves

  1. Hmm… I’ve never even tried to keep my books alphabetical by author. Too much work, I guess. I used to have 1 (and a half) bookcases of TBR, and sort the rest (some of which were also TBR, mixed with those that weren’t) by nonfiction vs fiction (1 shelf of the former, 2 of the latter). I also ended up creating stickers for the covers that allowed me to sort those that I wasn’t sure if I’d keep after I read from those that were definite, or assumptive keepers. I had hoped that this would allow me to actually read the ones that most needed reading in order to create some room on my bookshelves. (If they’re not overstuffed, you’re not doing it right, IMO. Although I must say I’m not so bad since I moved). I was having too much difficulty culling during my annual (approximately) cull, otherwise.

    When I moved, I found myself preferring to go by genre, and having everything together that way, whether they were TBR or not. I did, however, also make sure the ones with stickers on them were put to the front, where I could see them best, and get to them when it comes time to find something to read. (That isn’t a library book that is. Don’t ask me how long *that* TBR list is!!) One thing I did keep when I moved though, was a separate shelf for teen and one for children’s books. I find it best to keep those separate from the rest of my fiction. I also find it really useful to keep my nonfiction in separate book cases from fiction ones. (Though I did have one bookcase that is mixed now. A change out of book cases meant a rearrangement of how many books fit in each case… so it became necessary on the one to mix fiction and non. In a bit of a weird way, actually, but maybe I’ll fix that some day.)

    I also decided that within genre, especially for nonfiction, I organize by topic. (e.g. biography, mental health, science, former textbooks, etc.). Subgenre organization works too. (E.g. general fiction, historical fiction, shapeshifters, space opera, etc.).

    I like to keep series together, and for a few authors I keep everything of theirs together. Other authors I prefer to keep different series in different places, for the mental separation it gives me.

    One more recent thing I’ve started doing is to keep all my favourite keepers on the same shelf (or shelves). Makes them easier to keep track of, and easier during cullings to know which shelves are not going to have much to cull (if anything).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I organized by horizontal rainbow last year and for the most part really like how it looks! My book buying habits became a little unhinged the past few years so most of my shelves are dedicated to unread now, which is honestly appalling.

    Before rainbow, I actually organized by size and format, then grouping an authpr’s work together.

    Liked by 2 people

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