Shuffle Your Shelves: 10 Ways to Organize Your Books

Shuffle Your Shelves: 10 Ways to Organize Your Books

organize your bookshelves

There’s something so satisfying about well-organized bookshelves. They can display your prized possessions in a way that is intuitive, functional, or just plain beautiful. But it can be tough to know exactly where to begin. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite ways to organize your bookshelves. Read on and get inspired!

By spine color

A post shared by Victoria Schwab (@veschwab) on

This artsy shelving solution turns your bookshelf into a work of art. Wow your guests with a literary rainbow.

Best for readers who: Want their bookshelves to be a focal point of their home.



This is a classic for a reason. With this system, you’ll never have to wonder where your favorites are.

Best for readers who: Want to be able to find books quickly.


By genre

A post shared by lorraine (@lorraine_is_a_teri) on

Why should your nonfiction books mingle with your poetry? This is a fairly intuitive organizational structure, and we like it.

Best for readers who: Tend to read in multiple genres.


By when you read them

This way, you only have to think about when you read a book in order to locate it on your shelves! Make sure to leave room for the books you haven’t read yet.

Best for readers who: Remember every book they’ve ever read.


By publication date

The upside of this system is that new releases can just be shelved one right after the other.

Best for readers who: Have an excellent memory for pub dates.


By publisher

Do you have a thing for Tor? Do you lust after Avon romances? Shelve your books accordingly.

Best for readers who: Love specific publishing houses and imprints.


By height

Make a nice, clean line on your shelves when you organize your books from shortest to tallest (or vice versa).

Best for readers who: Want to do something unusual with their shelves.


By primary setting

Divide your shelves into East, West, North, and South and shelve accordingly. Good luck with those road trip novels, though.

Best for readers who: Tend to focus on setting when they read.


By whether or not you plan to reread them

Books you’re likely to open should be within easy reach. Books you’re done with can hang out in the hard-to-reach spots.

Best for readers who: Value easy access to reading material.


Pure entropy

A post shared by (@bookishhq) on

Who cares if you’re the only person who can find books on your bookshelf? Sometimes a little chaos can be nice.

Best for readers who: Like a little disorder in their lives.

Elizabeth Rowe
Elizabeth is Bookish's Senior Editor and a graduate of Columbia University's MFA program in Nonfiction Writing. She is based in San Francisco and can frequently be found at Philz with her nose in a book. Her current obsession is the My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and she thoroughly embarrassed herself when she met him shortly after the release of volume four (and she has the photos to prove it).


  1. All fun to think of. Currently I organize my fiction by author, alphabetically, and non-fiction history chronologically. Other books by category, for example: poetry, religion, art, etc.
    By color looks great but unless you remember what it looks like, what if you can’t find it?! Nightmare! :)

  2. Combination thereof: my primary split is by genre/type/category (language, religion, cookbooks, non-fiction, fiction, to-be-read), then within each of those the books are arranged by color. Some attention is paid to size, especially on the top shelf where it is most visible, when within the color group. (And per the comment on remembering what a book looks like when organizing by color? Not usually an issue outside of my to-be-read category! Visualizing the book is easy enough for me, and having the category split helps narrow down the selection a bit)

Leave a Reply