Organising Books

To the outside eye, all four of my bookshelves must look incredibly disorganised.  My books are not in any particular order, and even when I have several books by one author, I do not house them together.  My books are not arranged by genre, date of purchase, or colour.  They merely go where they fit now!  Despite this, I still know where (pretty much!) everything is.  The only category which is relatively organised is that of my to-read books; I have two distinct shelves on which such books reside, and like to keep them split into fiction and non-fiction, just for ease of picking my next read.


From  The short answer is no.

There are a wealth of articles around the Internet about organising one’s bookshelves; this Guardian piece, which deals with the difficulty of categorisation, is probably my favourite.

If you find yourself horrified by the above – which I am sure many do – please let me know how you organise your books.  Do you have a system which makes sense only to you?  Where do you put your new books, or those which you have yet to read?


8 thoughts on “Organising Books

  1. My bookshelves at the moment are a mess, because my review copies and newly acquired ones are piled up high in front of the older books at the back of the shelves. But I tell myself I’m about to move, so that’s fine… and once I am back in my old house, with all the wonderful bookshelves, I’ll be able to organise them the way I like to, which is:
    1) by subject matter – academic, business, poetry, biography etc.
    2) by language/country – I will have translations together with writers in the original language – France, Germany, Romania, etc.
    3) by size (within the existing categories from 1 and 2) – big hardbacks down to small paperbacks – exceptions made for several books by the same author
    4) OK, slightly anal: authors in alphabetical order.
    Mind you, I may have to get a few more shelves, as I have acquired a lot of new books in the meantime and my shelves were already quite full.

  2. Colour. As a functional system of organisation, it’s totally rubbish. I quite like that. It feels like my inner artstic side is sticking two fingers up at my stern tweed-wearing intellectual side. Also, it looks nice. (Shallow? moi? 😉 )

  3. My system is a sort of system but a bit messy – the books are roughly in categories (Russians, Viragos, Women writers, Beats, Japanese lit, European lit, that kind of thing) and then alphabetical. It doesn’t always work though, and I really can’t find things on a regular basis….

  4. I try to alphabetize, except I don’t like having books of vastly different sizes sit next to each other, so my alphabet is often out of order. New books are stacked in front of the alphabetized books, because I desperately need new shelves. So overall, I have to say that, no, my shelves are not neat and not really organized either…

  5. I’m not horrified at all. I have shelves all around the house so I can’t be too organised. I have a mixture of books shelved together and a few particular collections – a Virago book case, non fiction shelves etc. – separated out. I like a little organisation but I also like mixing things up and finding unlikely authors side by side or spotting a book I hadn’t been thinking of while looking for something entirely different.

  6. I don’t have specific places for the new ones. I mix them all in but I organize my shelves by age and genre. There’s a kid’s books section, YA section, adult and within those the genres. Of course, sometimes I’m stumped like when trying to decide whether a book is more fantasy than sci-fi or whether to place a book in the literary section or the sci-fi section because it’s dystopian.

  7. Mine generally go from biggest to smallest (height and thickness), with the same author always together even if it ruins my big to small vibe, ha. I also seem to have ordered them a bit by genre – lots of classics, YA, fantasy, war etc. are grouped together. I would definitely find your bookshelf way too chaotic :p

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