How To Organize Your Bookshelves

books in black wooden book shelf
Photo by Pixabay on

Your Personal Library

We’ve talked about posting books on Instagram and becoming a #bookstagrammer. What happens when you build up a substantial library? You’ll want to show off your reading material.

We’ve got some ideas on how to organize your books and bookshelves in a few eye-catching ways.

Bibliophiles love their sorting their collections. Now that being bookish is all the rage, it’s natural to want to share images of books with friends and followers. But it’s possible to get too caught up in the aesthetics and ignore practicality.

Stop Rearranging Your Bookshelves

This past week I read a fascinating article from on this topic.

I used to spend hours arranging my books until I realised it was a colossal waste of time and changed my ways.

Kasia Delgado wrote:

I support those who want to arrange their bookshelves in artful ways, but it can go too far. I had a dream before moving to a new flat this month in which I was arranging my shelf for so long that each book began disintegrating and I started to eat the pages. In the morning, I decided enough was enough and I vowed to change my ways… As I unpacked my moving boxes, I forced myself to put books on the shelves arbitrarily.


So while playing around with different looks is fun, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.

Also, don’t be afraid to cull your hoard. You can donate your books (in good condition, of course) to libraries, hospitals, thrift stores like Salvation Army & Savers, used bookstores, and charities.

Where I live, we have The Book Fairies, a program that donates books to schools and organizations in the Long Island/ New York City area.

arrnage books

There Are Many Ways to Arrange Your Books

There are a variety of ways to organize your books.

Alphabetize by any category you want. Set hardcovers separate from paperbacks. Organize by size, trade backs with trade backs and standard paperbacks together.

Books should provide comfort, so it’s essential to present them in a way that brings you peace. Choose whatever makes the most sense for your needs, whether decorative or practical.

By Author

One of the simplest methods of grouping your assortment of volumes is by author name.

If an author is on your automatic to-buy list, you’ll want to keep them all together!

Here are some historicals by Deana James–one of my favorite romance writers–stacked in a pile (a couple of them are in storage) for easy access.

Deana James
Deana James Books, Jacqueline’s Collection

Likewise, I’ve organized some of these paperback romances similarly. While this arrangement is more random, if you look closely, you’ll see I’ve sorted out my Lisa Kleypas romances into one section.

Other authors, like Day Taylor & Roberta Gellis, have their books organized near each other.

Romance Novels from Jacqueline’s Collection

Organize By Color

One of the hottest ways to exhibit your reads is by color. White shelving is another big thing. You can go all-white to match the bookcase for a minimalistic approach.

collection of books in bookshelves
Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Of course, what’s the fun of arranging by color if you only choose one hue? Make a rainbow out of your library, and don’t worry about the rest. Give ROY G BIV a try and see if this is the right fit for you.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Subject Matter/ Dewey Decimal System

Channel your inner librarian by placing your books by subject matter.

I’ve amassed a little collection of volumes on Spanish/Hispanic history (Also pictured are a few books about pirates. Pirates raided Spanish ships, so there you go, that’s my reasoning for putting them together.)

These books would be filed under the 900 Class in the Dewey Decimal system for historical or geographical books. Remember the Dewey Decimal system? Remember using index card files to search for books?

arrange books by type
Jacqueline’s Books on Spanish/Hispanic History (and Pirates!)

Spine Facing Inward

Are the spines on your books too cracked? Don’t want viewers to know what dirty reads are on your shelf, like Taken by the T-Rex? (It’s an actual book. There’s a whole subgenre of dinosaur erotica out there! Billionaire dinosaurs, too!)

My inner aesthete and librarian both shudder at this popular trend. However, many appreciate the clean look of pages bound by their covers.

Add a plant or photo frame next to it, and you’re set with a contemporary look for your library.

bookcase with assorted books between tropical plants at home
Photo by George Milton on

By Publisher/Imprint

Do you have a particular publisher or imprint that you love? One way to organize your books is by line, series, or publisher.

I collect Harlequin Presents. I have about 1,000 of them, just one-quarter of how many are published.

To my eyes, the (typically) white covers make them a little bland-looking. So the black case makes them pop out.

arrange books by type
Jacqueline’s Collection of Harlequin Presents

Reaching up to the ceiling, placed on the tippy-top of one shelf, I’ve put my unread Zebra romances together. Next to them are ones published by Dorchester.

You can’t see it from here, but these are stacked vertically and are three deep. That’s nine stacks of roughly 13 books each, for a total of 117 books.

How do I get to them? Very carefully with a step stool. 😁

Jacqueline’s Shelf of Assorted Zebra and Dorchester Romances

Books Facing Outward

Want visitors to ooh and aah over your library? Place your books forward so you can show off your reading material! It makes for great conversation starters.

Plus, you get to enjoy looking at any gorgeous cover art that catches your eye, making for a very photogenic shelf.

assorted title books collection
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on


Books don’t have to be relegated to a home office or study. Put them in your living areas with home decorations, like plants and knick-knacks.

This makes for a cozy, casual look.

books on brown wooden shelf
Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Random Stacking

When you have as many books as I do, anywhere is an excellent place to store your books.

As Kasia Delgado wrote in her article, if it gets too overwhelming or if you’re constantly rearranging your books, stop worrying about perfection. Just put them in random order and delight in the variety of your library.

There doesn’t need to be any rhyme or reason to your organization. Stack some books vertically, with a few leaning against them. Add a little flair (in my case, I plastic plant as I have a brown thumb!), and voila! You’re all set.

 arrange books2
Random Books From Jacqueline’s Library

Now sit back, relax, grab a glass of wine or tea, and admire your books.

Then read one! In the end, that’s what they’re there for. Your enjoyment!

4 thoughts on “How To Organize Your Bookshelves

  1. Blue Falcon

    Hi, Jacqueline.

    Really good post about how to organize one’s physical bookshelves creatively. I would have not thought of some of the ideas you’ve presented here.

    For me, I keep my organizing fairly simple. I don’t have bookshelves, so I use containers to store my books. I have four physical collections:

    One for my Zebra/Kensington books, which make up the majority of the paperbacks I own. These are arranged in alphabetical order by author, except for anthologies, which are in published order.

    Hardcovers, same arrangement.

    Ditto for my Harlequin Temptation books.

    Finally, I have one container for my Cassie Edwards Native American romance collection.

    I’m not quite as organized with my online collections. I have online collections on one site that I’d like to organize better, and your article may prove to be quite helpful in that endeavor. Thank you as always.

    1. jacquelinediaz

      Hiya Blue Falcon,

      So good to hear from you, as always! 😊

      You arrange your books with utility and that’s probably the “best” way to arrange them. Well, really, whatever makes the most sense for your needs is best, but I like purposeful organization.

      When I was a kid, after my parents divorced, I started reading romance and collecting paperbacks from all different genres. I loved to take my books out and arrange them in orderly manner by author or publisher, or my romances by odd groupings like the heroines’ hair colors or cover artist. Categorizing them brought me a sense of tranquility that everything had been put in its proper pleace. But then I’d take my books out and rearrange them all over again my a different way.

      I wish I could line my entire house with bookshelves, but alas, I can’t. So I also use bins to store the majority of my books. There are books to be read or to sell in multiple 50 gallon plastic containers and my read/keepers are in various cardboard boxes in the attic and garage arranged by author. Currently I’m sitting next to two big containers filled with books to give away that are sorted by Non-Fiction and hardcovers and adult/juvenile.

      I didn’t even think about e-books! I have too many of those as well. Freebies are addictive. My Kindle has thousands of books and only half of them are put in categories. I might use that as a topic for another article to come.

      Hope everything is bright on your side.



  2. Jenna

    I loved this blog! As you know, I review hr books on my blog, I have been reviewing mostly ARCs, however I have been wanting to review published books as well. I read mostly on my Kindle but I miss my actual books. This weekend the only paperback exchange store in my area is closing. I got 200 hr paperbacks for $40! Now I have to organize them! This blog helped so much! Thank you! I would love to run some author names by you to see if you have read any of them, maybe that could help me to know where to start reading! I know you love hr as much as I do! I am seriously considering arranging my books by cover color! It looked so pretty! Thanks again!

    1. jacquelinediaz

      Hi Jenna!

      It’s too bad your UBS/exchange is closing, but at least you made out with a great haul. 5 books for a dollar! 😍

      I’d be delighted to give you my input if I can be of any help. You can email me at if you’d like. I’d certainly be interested in your perspective on them.

      You’ve got a great blog, by the way. I pre-ordered Gentleman Seeks Bride, as it sounds so good. I haven’t gotten a chance to read many “modern” romances this year so I’m looking forward to it based on your review.

      Thanks so much for dropping by!



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