{Discussion} Shelf Organization

How do you organize your bookshelf?

All the non-readers out there are going: “ugh!” And all the fanatic readers out there are going: “OH MY GOSH! YES!” Why? Because when you own books (and perhaps are a book hoarder as we discussed last week ;p ) you have to put them somewhere. That somewhere is generally a bookshelf (unless you’re me and are too lazy to buy a bookshelf. >.>) And when you own a bookshelf, most people organize it. (If you don’t, I am never visiting your house!) But how does one organize a bookshelf for optimization? Let’s look at the options.

First off, there is no ‘right’ way to organize a shelf. Why? Because organizing one’s bookshelf is a mirror of how one’s brain is organized. This inanimate object (that we love to the point of obsession) is an extension of our personalities. We flaunt our bookshelves with pride and we want it to look good, to express who we are. For that reason, there is a variety of first-level hierarchy to the organizing structure.

First-level hierarchy, what?!

What I mean by that is that there are variety of options for the first level of shelf organization. Because you must understand that readers do not simply pick one option for organizing and that’s it. No. No. No. We pick the first way to organize books and then from there the books are organized again and then the books are organized again in a different category thus that the bookshelf order has hierarchy. Still lost? No worries. Let’s break it down!

Bookshelf Hierarchy: First-Level

Please note, my first level of hierarchy is a bit unorthodox due to the high level of unread books I have in my house. (I started with 50 unread books, read a few… and now have 61 unread books. -.- I don’t know how that math works by the way.) But my first level of bookshelf hierarchy at the moment is ‘unread vs. read.’

Over Thanksgiving break I bought a new bookshelf, which brings my number of bookshelves to two! Yay! As such, I’m able to easily divide the books I have read on one shelf and the books I haven’t read on the other shelf (with a few read books spilling to my unread shelf as I catch up on my TBR pile. :p ) Now, to be fair, this is not common (at least not that I’m aware of) for readers to have so many unread books that they need an entire bookshelf for it. (But that, ladies and gents, is why I consider myself a book hoarder. Hee hee!)

Bookshelf Hierarchy: Level Two

To help you understand how I organize, I’ll give you a little insight into my personality: I’m a visual learner. As such, I’m very affected by the visual effect something has on me. My room has to look tidy (which could include shoving everything a closet where I can’t see it). My picture frames have to be placed on the wall ‘just so’ (for some arbitrary balance that my brain [and not myself] understands.) And my bookshelf follows this visual rule as well. Because of that, my second level of bookshelf hierarchy is height!

The absolute first thing I do when organizing books on my shelf is line them all up, putting the tallest ones on the left and the shortest ones on the right. Even a centimeter can make all the difference in the world to my shelf organization! (And I will know if they’re out of order)

However, this becomes a problem when I jump into a book series that is only half-published. Why? Because I generally end up with the first few books in paperback and the last few in hardback (which as readers know are NEVER the same height.) And please don’t kill me for this, but I… don’t put a series next to each other if they aren’t the same height. *runs and hides*

Bookshelf Hierarchy: Level Three

Already I have two levels of bookshelf hierarchy (and many readers are screaming and pulling their hair out because of my organization pattern), but there are a lot of categories I haven’t touched yet. Some readers like to organize their shelf by genre and author (as one does in a bookstore). Others love to organize by color offering their bookshelf a rainbow layout (which would drive me insane because the rainbow would be missing so many sections in my house. -.- ) Heck! Some readers may even organize their bookshelves right to left as many non-Latin-based languages are written!

And, personally, I don’t think I have a third level of hierarchy at this point in time. In some sense, I allow my bookshelf some chaos in that I don’t over organize it. It’s controlled chaos, obviously, but there is a minimal amount nonetheless (which likely mirrors the wild-child in me somewhere that my perfectionist self tries to bury deep down. Haha!) See what I mean? Bookshelves reflect a reader’s personality.

Yet, the key to remember in all of this is:


I’m serious people. Readers may get this. Non-readers may not. But the absolute worst thing you can do is organize someone’s bookshelf for them. Why? Because you don’t know how they want it done and they will end up re-doing it anyway when they see you’ve done it wrong (well, wrong in their eyes.) Remember, readers are very docile creatures when left to their own devises, but touch their precious and they will murderize you! 0.0

Now that you’ve had a peek into my bookshelf organization, share with me how you organize your bookshelf. Heck! Show me pics! I’d love to add a few to the highlights on Tuesday!

And check out my discussion from last week:
Book Hoarding


15 thoughts on “{Discussion} Shelf Organization”

  1. hahaha indeed it’s a whole world, the organizing part… I don’t organize them by height, more like by genre, and I hate when that happens in a series, that you end up with different formats or different heigh books… I can’t! That has happened to me before with TMI series, I know is too superficial but still…
    As you, I like to have every book series simmetrical… I actually pay a lot of attention when ordering online so that I end up with the same editions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome! I’m so happy I’m not alone in this. ^.^ And I hear you. I used to never pay attention to which books I bought, but now I try to be more conscientious of it because it is awfully difficult breaking a series up on my bookshelf. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hang on – you don’t put a series next to each other if they’re a different height?!? I must admit I have the same issue as you, the books have to look tidy and level. The way I would get around the different book height in a series problem is to buy the hardbacks – job done. I know it sounds silly but this solves both problems. I couldn’t cope with either one of the other outcomes.

    Hehe… this is all tongue in cheek but I thought this was a great post Melanie – how are things? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh gosh! I understand the buying other versions of the book solves the problem. However, 1) I’m a grad student, thus I have very little money to spend on buying books, much less duplicates of book. And 2) I have an issue with having a copy of a book that I haven’t read. It sounds absolutely absurd, but I have a certain attachment to books I’ve read and while I never mark them or damage them (meaning they always look brand new), I will always know if there is a book on my shelf that wasn’t the original book I read and it just… bothers me. :/ That make any sense?

      Hee hee! Sometimes we have to have these silly discussions. And besides, some people obviously took them quite seriously. :p Things are going well, thank you for asking. I hope the same goes for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know what’s frightening… I feel the same way about the books. If i bought one to replace a previous version i would have to read out too! So yes… It makes sense.
        Is its a silly but fun conversation and it shows the OCD in us all! 😝

        Liked by 1 person

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