How to organize your books on your bookshelves

How to organize books on a bookshelf

The nine ways to organize books on a bookshelf

Book lovers have in-built librarian skills. Our literature collections are lovingly curated and cared for in our own homes, and are a treasured feature of our living rooms, studies, bedrooms, dining rooms and kitchens (or all of the above).

We all have our own style of storing and ordering our books but excluding the Dewey system, I think there are nine main categories for home-based librarianship.


You are the one who does judge a book by its cover and make your selections by visual means. As a result, your bookshelves are beautifully colour-coded story rainbows.


You like to find things easily so your books are in alphabetical order. There’s no messing when you want a book; you know exactly where they’re shelved. In your home, Kate Atkinson and Mark Zusak will never meet.


You like your bookshelves to reflect your reading journey. Books are shelved as you buy and read them, chronicling your reading life like an offline Good Reads.


You like to read a lot of genres so need to get to specific themes quickly. When you want to be thrilled, swept away with a romance or engrossed by historical fiction, you know precisely where to go.


You are very attached to your books and your shelves are a hierarchy of those you love the most. The top shelf houses your most precious titles while the lesser favourites lurk at the bottom.

Me getting over emotional about a book. I’ve been known to stroke and talk to them. Stop judging.


You don’t care. You stick your books on a shelf and are happy with that. As long as you have books around you and within easy reach, you’re good. Why worry about order? There’s reading to be done.


Why not order your books by size. Biggest on the left and smallest on the right, of if you like it, the other way round.


Who wants to mix their paperbacks up with their hardbacks, it looks so messy.


or why not combine the above into any pattern you like? I arrange my shelves thus:

  • Smallest on the top shelves, largest on the bottom, I adjust the shelves to suit the height of my books
  • I also split them by format so I have shelves of hardback and paperbacks, spirit further down into mass paperback, trade etc
  • Having got a shelf of the same size and format books, I group them in color going from light to dark, left to right.

And in reality, it looks pretty, but I can rarely find anything I want.