There really are a million and one (and probably more) ways to organize your book shelves. And, yes, if you’re around books for any part of your life, you’ve probably been exposed to at least a few of those methods. But, you may also find that some methods just KILL you.

So, what are some of the organizational ways, and which one do you follow? (It really is ok if you follow all of them, I promise. It may just drive us all insane… and inspire a few tears of consternation.)

1. Alphabetical Organize

It’s common and it’s easy to use the alphabetical organizational method. Just rank the titles by the last name of the author. Or you may even see the books organized alpha by title. In the now-all-encompassing digital books sphere, it’s easy to sort alphabetically by title or author.

You’ve probably seen this as one of the most commonly followed methods of organization, but it’s by no means the only way.

2. Genre Rules All

Yes, genre is another common way to organize books. It’s fun because it allows you to go to just those books that you feel like reading.

In the mood for romance? They’re all right there on that bookshelf (or shelf). Mystery? They’re over there…

Plus, if you have kids, ALL of those books are likely in their own section as well.

It’s simple, and painless, and also supports any possible reading mood over time. It also just makes sense, because you can store cookbooks near the kitchen (where you might need them for recipes). Likewise, you can locate other books in areas that could be generally associated with those tasks or topics.

3. Colorize Your Reading World

Although I love to see pictures where the library owner has those books all sorted by color, shape and size, that method really does scare me. I’ll admit that I’ll never be a designer or home décor expert. That’s probably why I cringe at the thought of not knowing where to find a particular book.

I suppose I could envision the title or topic based on what the book looks like, but then what would I do when I have multiple copies of the book, and had confused what each book looked like. Yes, I can remember the image on the cover, but do I recall which shade I would have grouped it with, or in which bookshelf across the house?

I love the shapes, color, and the feel of books as they range across shelves all over the house. But, when I want to read about a topic or author, I love to walk to the shelf and begin, not try to remember what I was thinking on the most recent day when I was redesigning the shelfscapes for shapes, season and color.

4. Systemized The Volumes

I don’t suppose you might want a more complicated system than any of these… Why over think it, right?

But, no… I was born with a book in my hands. My grandmother was a librarian, and my mom might just as well have been. I learned Dewey Decimal before I could walk, and I still think of the corresponding code when I look at books sometimes.

The Dewey Decimal Classification system (DDC) and the Library of Congress Classification system (LCC) are those two cataloging methods, and it’s not that complicated. You’ve likely figured it out when you entered a library in search of a book for academics or entertainment. Really, if you own a large library (or even a somewhat large collection of tomes), you probably already know that you need some way to catalog your books.

The big research libraries use this systematic approach to organization. Why not you, right?

5. Favorites First

While there are many ways to organize your books, you may find you just need to keep some books close. It could be the books you just purchased, and you’re eager to read, or it might include those books that you love to return to again and again — when you’re in the “mood”.

While your “Favorites” organizational structure may evolve over time, it could be that those are the books that make their way onto the shelves in your room (or in stacks by the side of the bed).

Yes, we all organize books as best we can, but sometimes, it really seems like books take on a life of their own. Individually and collectively, they become a part of our lives and we will never be the same.

So, how do you organize your collection of books? Or do you allow your books to range over shelves and spaces, unkempt and free-wheeling?

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