Before I get into this, I just want to mention a post I made of 8 Things Every Book Collector Has Heard. I also just made a post about consumerism in the book community. Be sure to check that out! I feel a little hypocritical doing a bookshelf tour right after talking about how consumerism is negatively effecting the community. However, I think it’s possible to let yourself take pride in your collection and share it with others while also being aware that it became the way it is because of an unhealthy mentality surrounding book buying as well as pressures from the community.
Disclaimer: This collection has been a lifetime in the making. I’m 21, and I’ve been actively collecting books & bookish things with every spare dollar I’ve had, for over six years. This didn’t happen overnight, so if you’re just starting a collection and desperate to make it bigger, just give it time! Don’t go out purchasing a dozen books you never want to read. Be patient and let it grow with you.
One of my favorite things in my life is my book collection (also my dogs, who love to jump in any pictures I try to take of my collection). It’s been years in the making, and something I spend most of my extra time and money on.
I know it’s definitely excessive, but it brings me so much joy that it’s worth losing all wall space in my bedroom. And today, I wanted to go into detail on my shelves and how I organize them, as well as some tips I’ve learned.
We’ll start with the one shelf I don’t really use that much. This shelf is my miscellaneous shelf. It has my nonfiction books, reference books, and some adult fiction, as well as plays and books I had to read for high school. I actually have plans to unhaul some of these books, but I just haven’t found the time to do so. I organize this shelf mostly by height, but the bottom row is organized alphabetically.
Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to unhaul some books.
Think of Marie Kondo’s method. If a book doesn’t spark joy, why have it clutter up important shelf space? Donate it to a library or shelter and give someone else the chance to fall in love with it. (This is a tip I’m currently trying to apply to my shelves).
Now for an actually fun shelf. This is my contemporary shelf. The first 3 rows are all YA and Adult contemporaries, while the bottom row is some extra sci-fi and fantasy that I couldn’t fit with the rest of those genres. I have this shelf organized by height, then color, then preference. The top row holds all of my favorites.
Tip #2: Contemporaries are a great genre to organize by color.
Color coding shelves can be absolutely beautiful, but sometimes it gets painful seeing series separated, and a lot of fantasy covers seem to be the same dark blues and blacks. But contemporaries are usually bright and inviting, making it easy to convert them to a rainbow! Plus, less series will be separated.
Here’s a wideshot of my favorite shelf I own. My Sci-Fi/Fantasy shelf. My dad and I built this shelf together (we got the supplies from Home Depot), and while it isn’t perfect, it’s special to me.
The top row of this shelf is somewhat organized into genre, but it really is just a place for all of my favorite books. The rest of the rows are split into specific genres and organized by height.
Tip #3: To separate sections of a long bookshelf, face books out!
Since this shelf spans the entire wall, I separated each genre by having books face out. It gives me an opportunity to show off some of my favorite books, and you can switch them out every month or so to keep it feeling fresh and new.
Tip #4: Push your books out the the edge of the shelf.
This one is definitely a matter of personal preference, but for me, I always prefer to have my books sitting on very edge of the shelf. This makes them more visible and they appear uniform and neat. However, there are benefits to pushing them back (its easier to maintain, for one). This tip is really dependent on you.
The leftmost shelf here is my ARC shelf, and the two next to it hold some classics, and some books I loved in middle school. My ARCs are organized by release date, and the other two shelves are organized vaguely by genre and height.
Tip #5: Stack books sideways to save room!
This is an easy tip that can give you that extra space to fit in another book or two or five. The key to maximize space is to stack shorter books on tall shelves. Don’t be afraid to mix and match books in the stack to really utilize all the space you have!
These are my favorites shelves. Both shelves were restored by a friend of mine, and they hold all of my Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare, and J. K. Rowling books. I’ve also thrown on my Amanda Hocking books and Vampire Academy series. All of these books helped formed me as a reader, so I wanted them to have their own special spot. These are organized by author (although not alphabetically), as well as height.
Tip #6: Book merch is a fun way to personalize your shelves.
Ending on another personal preference. I love the messy shelf look, and I cover my shelves with all the book swag I have. It just makes the shelves more interesting to me, and is a fun way to show off the little trinkets I’ve collected.
And those are all of my books. When I took these photos, I had around 1,390 books total, although now that number has gone up a little (somewhere around 1400).
What’s your favorite way to organize shelves? Do you have any organization tips you can’t live with?