Bibliophile (noun): A person who collects or has a great love of books. Every bibliophile needs to know ways to organize books, especially if they want to find the one they’re looking for when they’re looking for it!
There’s no one-size-fits-all for book organization, but below, you’ll find 7 great ways to organize books and a few pointers for making your bookshelf look great, too!
Read the list to see what appeals to you, then try a few out!
Ways to Organize Books
There are countless ways to organize books. Here are 9 fantastic options:
- By Genre/Subject Matter
- By Title
- By Author
- By Reading Level
- By Color
- Read vs Unread
- Favorite to Least Favorite
The way you organize books may depend on who’s reading them, why the books are being read (pleasure vs learning), where you’re storing them, and the size of your collection.
You may be able to incorporate several book organization systems within your collection, depending on the type of books you have.
Let’s dive in to each organizational method and who it might be best for!
Organizing Books by Genre & Subject
Genre and subject is often a great starting point for book organization. If you have fiction and nonfiction books, start there. Then you can sort further by the type of non-fiction you have.
Some common non-fiction categories of books include self-help books, how to books, history books, science books, and reference books.
Once you’ve broken your collection down into these broad categories, you may wish to sort them further using some other methods listed below.
Organizing Books by Title
Who doesn’t love sorting items into alphabetical order?
Libraries are often sorted by author, but sorting by title may make more sense in your home.
Sorting your books into ABC order by title is a very effective way to store and FIND the books you have (if you can recall the title of the book you’re looking for, that is!).
To get started with this organizational method, clear some floor space, then start stacking books based on the first letter of their title. Remember to disregard determiners such as “a,” “an,” and “the” when alphabetizing.
Here’s a quick tutorial:
If you’re considering sorting children’s books this way, keep in mind that it won’t be easy for your kids to maintain. As long as you’re okay with your system not staying perfect, go for it!
Organizing Books by Author
The most traditional organizing method for books is sorting by author. You may wish to do this after you’ve sorted by genre.
The benefits of this sorting method are that it’s classic and makes books simple to find (again, if you can remember the author). This is also a great way to store books if you have multiples by the same author.
I wouldn’t recommend this method or book organization for children unless you have a large amount of books by an author, such as Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle.
Organizing Books by Reading Level
Where are my teachers? When I was teaching 2nd grade, sorting by books by reading level was a VERY effective method for organizing my books. I took weeks checking the reading level of each book, marking the book with the corresponding level, and then sorting the books into the appropriate level bin.
I then determined each child’s independent reading level and asked that they select books from the bin that was just right for them. And it was amazing and so functional — for my classroom.
If you’re a parent with an early reader, this may also be an effective short-term book organization method for your home! It will allow your kids to be independent and select books for their skill set — which will help improve their reading skills.
Not sure how to do this? Here’s a great book database you can search. You can also ask your child’s teacher for guidance on their level.
If your collection of books is for adults or reference, this is likely not a great way to organize books within your home or workplace.
Books By Color
Have you seen rainbow bookshelves all over social media? This trend is having a moment and for good reason: it looks amazing and can turn a bookshelf into a work of art and focal point in a room.
BUT. If you’re an adult looking for a specific book and you can’t remember what color the spine is… your rainbow of books is going to be more frustrating than functional.
Sorting books by color is great for playrooms and for bookshelf displays, but not for those looking for reference books.
Read vs Unread Books
If you’re the bibliophile who can’t resist grabbing a few books every time you pass a bookstore, odds are you have a decent stack of books you intend to read someday, but haven’t found the time for just yet.
To avoid forgetting about them forever, assign unread books a dedicated home instead of mixing them in with your other books.
Organizing Books by Love Level
Maybe you prefer to use your heart, rather than your mind, when organizing books. If you are the type of reader who makes strong connections with books and ranks them based on how much you loved them, consider organizing your books this way.
As I mentioned earlier, you may not remember the title or author of books you’ve read, but if you remember how the book made you feel — read,you will and you sorted it based on this — you can locate the book you want.
Quick Tips for Styling Books
Now that you’ve got your books all sorted and organized in a way that makes you happy and functions in your space, there are a few ways to “style” your bookshelf for maximum beauty.
- Organize books by height
- Group by cover type (hardcover vs softcover)
- Create stacks of books for visual interest
- Place heavier books on lower shelves
- Pull all books to the front to make them even
- Mix pictures, stuffed animals, or knickknacks to add interest
Disregard any of these styling tips if they interfere with the method of organization you’ve already settled on.
Ways to Organize Books
These are the 7 most practical ways to organize books but, really, there are so many other options… you could organize by length, page, the age of the author…
Do you have a favorite way to organize books that I missed? Or maybe you prefer not to organize your books at all!
Drop a line below and let me know!