Whether you’re moving, remodeling, spring cleaning, or finally getting around to building the library of your dreams, the question of how to store and display your book collection is bound to come up. Traditionally, most of us arrange our reads alphabetically, by author.
While this method sometimes produces some fun juxtapositions—I’m always delighted to see Henry James sharing shelf space with the Fifty Shades trilogy—it’s not exactly the most imaginative.
If you’re looking for ways to spice up your home library—and spark a conversation among your book-loving friends—try one of these alternatives.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
1. By Color
Organize your books by the colors of their bindings. I’ve seen this system used in a few homes and apartments, and the results are consistently surprising. (If you have a lot of paperbacks published by Penguin, you might be able to build a whole shelf of orange.)
2. By Genre
Increasingly, many of us are read across genre lines. Literary fiction fans have taken up graphic novels, while nonfiction buffs have plunged into YA. Organizing your shelves by genre is one way to celebrate the multifariousness of your reading habits. It also makes mood-based selection more efficient. Who wants to pick through presidential biographies when all you want is a regency romance?
3. By Page Count
Part of the fun of reducing books to broad categories such as color or genre is learning how irreducible books can be. Organizing your collection by page count demonstrates how little the metric really matters: Ethan Frome, at barely 100 pages, contains a lifetime of feeling, while heavyweight page-turners, such as Harry Potter, demand to be read at breakneck pace. That said, this system might produce an interesting visual, and it’ll be of use to those who tend to determine their reads based on the time commitment involved.
4. By Mood
If you tend to ask for book recommendations based on emotion—“Give me something spooky”; “Give me something sad”—this system might be for you. On days when you’re feeling blue, you can navigate easily to the Weeper Shelf and pluck out your copy of Anna Karenina. On sunnier days, visit the Nostalgia Shelf; Anne of Green Gables will be waiting for you.
5. By Setting
With summer around the corner, I’ve been craving books set near beaches or cozy vacation towns. By Christmastime, when my love for New York kicks in, I’ll probably be hankering for a novel or nonfiction book set in the city. If you’re like me and read, in large part, as a means of trotting the globe, consider organizing your library by setting—it’ll bring out your inner wanderer.