Make Room For New Books With These Bookshelf Ideas

Kelsie Foreman
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December 4, 2020

If you love to read, books are probably the number one item on your holiday wish list this year. But if you’re expecting an especially large haul this holiday season (fingers crossed!) you might be wondering how to fit anything else on your bookshelf. And while you could always purchase a new one, why not just reorganize (or reallocate) your bookshelves? Not only will you have room for your new reads, but you’ll be organized just in time for the new year. 

And if you’re a big reader, you probably know how important book shelf organization is. After all, how else could Hermione have found those books in the restricted section? And what would Matilda Wormwood have done if she couldn’t find that perfect book needed to mentally escape her abusive parents? Bookshelf organization was key for these characters, and the next time you need to find the perfect book to loan to a friend, it’ll be key for you too. 

Begin your shelf renovation by going through your collection and setting aside anything that you can part with. You can regift these to friends during the winter holiday of Jólabókaflóð, contribute them to a nearby tiny library, or donate them to another organization in your area. Aim to get rid of a few books so you can say that you decluttered before 2021.  

After you’ve given away the reads that you can, start the bookshelf organization process by removing what you have left on your shelves. When taking on a feat like this one, I find it’s best to start blank and then choose one of the ideas below that works best. 


By the alphabet

If you reread old stories often or have neighbors and friends who borrow books frequently, organizing your bookshelves via alphabetization is likely the best option for you. You can choose to separate books based on the title or the author’s name. 

It should be mentioned that there are a few downsides to organizing your books alphabetically. For one, it isn’t the most visually appealing layout, though it is the layout where books are the easiest to find. Additionally, it can get tricky to add new books to your shelves, particularly if the shelf is already full. If you choose to organize your books in this manner, make sure that you leave space for future additions. 

By feeling

Are you one of those readers who chooses their titles based on emotions? If so, it might be a good idea to arrange your books based on the kinds of feelings they evoked in you while reading them. This can be an intense task, so it might be best to start by sorting books into common emotions such as happiness, sadness, fear, anger, longing, love, and more. After the books have been separated, you can organize them further by alphabetizing or colorizing each category, it’s completely up to you. 

By color

This is perhaps one of the best ways to organize your books if you are looking to create a visual statement, though it can be one of the most exhausting to pull off. To effectively organize your bookshelf based on color, divide all of your books into color groups and then organize them based on hue from there in order to create that desired ombre or rainbow look. If you want your shelves to truly make an impact in your home decor, this is absolutely the way to display them! 

Organizers should keep in mind, however, that when you elect to go the color organization route it’s nearly impossible to simultaneously organize them with a second method such as alphabetization. This will ruin how the colored spines are displayed. 


By what you’re reading next

It’s always fun to go to a secondhand bookstore and bring home 10-15 new reads. Set aside a corner of your shelf to house your “to read” pile.  Depending on the number of unread books you have on your shelves, it might be a good idea to differentiate the ones that you haven’t read from the new reads by placing them horizontally. 

By genre

Divide up your favorite books based on genres like fiction, nonfiction, mystery, young adult, reference, true crime, and more. After you have split up your reads by genre, feel free to further alphabetize them or even colorize them (though you’ll have to create a rainbow on a shelf by shelf basis). 

In some cases, organizing by genre can be more intuitive than just plain alphabetizing, especially if you are super familiar with the kinds of genres on your shelf. Additionally, this is a great way to organize your shelves if you determine your next read based on your desired genre. 

If you choose to organize in this manner, know that there will be a lot of overlap in your organization. For example, you might find that several of your books overlap into different categories. To avoid these kinds of organization conundrums, it’s best to put them into large groups based on the four main genres (fiction, nonfiction, mystery, fantasy...these are only a few examples. Your shelf may vary) and then organizing them into smaller, niche categories from there. 

Whether you elect to organize your books alphabetically, by color, by genre, or something else, your bookshelves are bound to look seriously amazing after a little organization. And not only will your shelves look incredible when following these methods, but they’ll make your books more accessible to you and your friends as readers. Plus, now that you’ve organized your existing books, imagine how simple it would be to add in anything new that you picked up over the holidays—especially if you elect to organize by the “to read” method!

How do you organize your bookshelves? Take a photo of yours and share it with us on Instagram @bookclubdotcom


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