You probably fall into one of 2 categories with book organization. One category is that owning physical books is superfluous with access to libraries and digital readers. The second category is that nothing beats the experience of holding (and owning) a physical book. The smell of the pages and the weight of it in your hands makes each and every book you own a treasured item. I fall into the second group which makes organizing and decluttering my books a painful process. No matter which group you fall into, here are some ideas for organizing your books.
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1. Extreme Group
If you’re ready to get hardcore minimalist on your books then you belong in the extreme group. To maximize your free space in your home, purge all of your books. This doesn’t mean you give up the pastime of reading. Instead, you use the library for access to all of your reading materials. Borrowing from the library will save you untold amounts of space in your home but it will also save you money (especially if you have a book-buying problem like me). Furthermore, a lot of libraries now let you check out an insane number of books at once (10-20). You could save time and essentially make it a once a month trip to get your books.
2. Middle Ground Group
Electronic readers are great for those of you who fall in the middle ground group. Even if you want to own your books, an e-reader can help you keep from accumulating an excess of books (some of which you may end up not even caring for). I own a Kindle and absolutely love it. There are so many books that can be borrowed for free if you own a Kindle and it is a fantastic way to read new releases before committing to a purchase.
Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle reader app on your smartphone or tablet. This will allow you to read a ton of fantastic books. While you don’t get access to the lender’s library (it is exclusive to Kindle owners), you can still get free books. A lot of books will periodically be available for free. Once you have ‘purchased’ free books and they are added to your Amazon library, they will always be yours for free regardless of price increases.
3. Book Hoarders Group
This is the group for all of you who are disproportionately attached to your books like I am. I absolutely love my books and parting with them is incredibly difficult for me. Over the years, I have developed some tricks for maximizing book storage. If you have purged the books you can but still have more books than bookshelves, here is how to style your shelves for maximum book holding while still being aesthetically pleasing:
- Start by organizing your books into stacks according to size. This will make step 2 easier.
- Vary how the books are stacked. As you can see in the picture above, setting some books upright and laying some of them flat provides visual interest while allowing you to fill the entire shelf with books.
- Once you have filled your shelves, you can come in with decorative items that you want to display.
- These shelves are after I purged 5 boxes of books!
There are some exceptions that as a book lover I have to make. Don’t get rid of collector’s books or items of highly sentimental value. I refuse to get rid of my grandfather’s old textbooks from when he went to Purdue. They aren’t on topics I am particularly interested in but I was very close with him and he died when I was 12. These books hold a value for me that couldn’t be replaced. Another book that will always have a place in my home is this collection from Milton.
This book is an absolute work of art. They don’t make covers like this anymore.
The illustrations are simply stunning.
The book is nearly 150 years old! You don’t throw out history like that. In fact, I don’t even recommend shelving it. Instead, display these exceptions prominently in your home.
5. Book Tour
You can literally find books in every room of my home. I’ll save you some of them (like the cookbooks in the kitchen and the books in the bathroom). You’re welcome. Here are the other areas, though.
This is one of the shelves in the living room. This is where the bulk of the books are stored.
This is the second book shelf in the living room. (And you can see the beautiful Milton right on top!)
Utilize otherwise unused areas like this for book storage as well. The kids’ books are the end of the hallway in a corner that was just sitting empty beforehand. If you notice, these are only the reading books. The coloring books and activity books are stored with the crayons and art supplies for the kids.
Yes, I even have puzzles that come in books. I know, I have a problem but hello! They are beautiful and Alice in Wonderland. They go perfect next to my illustrated Harry Potter book and my HP adult coloring book.
These are all of my work books. These are all stored in my office.
These are all of my binders (both those in use and empty ones for future products).
These are all of the notebooks and reference books that I use frequently. That is why they are in such close proximity to my desk.
The magazines are stored on the bottom shelf and get recycled as I’m done with them. (These are great for brainstorming topic ideas, by the way.)
Much like the kids’ coloring books, sketchbooks are kept in their own drawer along with a box of drawing supplies (like pencils, charcoal, and blenders).
Organizing your books doesn’t have to be hard. These tips will help you whether you’re ready to leap and purge everything or you’re still wanting to hold on to the bulk of books. This part of organizing can take a substantial amount of time, especially if you a freakish book-hoarding nerd like I am. It is worth the time to free up the space and achieve easier access to the books you want to read, use, and reference. If you haven’t checked it out yet, don’t miss how to organize your arts and craft supplies then come back on Monday to find out how to organize your clothes!