4 Ways to Organize Bookshelves and Display Books

You may not be buying bound books anymore — you probably do most of your reading on your tablet or e-reader — but we’re willing to bet that you’ve still managed to accumulate quite a few hardbacks and paperbacks over the years. And books — whether brand new, read, re-read, or picked up from an antique store — can make for a charming décor element.

By Topic

If you’re constantly pulling your books off the shelves to give them a look, you might want to take a cue from libraries and bookstores and use good old-fashioned logic to organize them. Group them by topic — it could be as simple as nonfiction and fiction — or in more detailed arrangements, such as academic books, biographies, children’s books, novels, poetry, workbooks, etc. Group favorite authors’ books together and, if you’re super detail-oriented, put them in alphabetical order. The more organized you are, the easier it will be to find what you’re looking for. Plus, books with similar topics tend to look similar, which makes them look cohesive when grouped together.

By Color

Grouping books by color is a trick a ton of interior designers are using to make book collections look fresh and styled, but it only will work for you if you can let go of logic a little. Take all your books off the shelf, and then sort them by the color scheme of the spine — the general color scheme is fine: shades of blue, shades of red and orange, etc. Then put the books back on the shelves, with their similarly hued counterparts. Seriously, the rainbow you create looks pretty amazing. Some people are really visual and find it easy to locate their books based on color. But it can be confusing for others, so this method is not for everyone.

By Height

Putting similar-height books together keeps your shelves from looking overly busy. In a way, you can’t help but group your books by height — some bookshelves have taller or shorter shelves, and you’ve got to put the books where they fit best. I recently adopted the color-scheme organization, but before that, I always organized by height — and you can kind of do these two methods in conjunction with each other. Call me a weirdo, but I like creating a fluid line across the top of my books, which only happens if they’re the same height. Then, you can neatly stack other books on top of those, which is sometimes a must in smaller apartments or when you have a huge collection of books you have to find a home for.


As much as you love your books, sometimes they’re just not pretty, especially if they’re beating up, they’re cheap paperbacks, or they’re in colors that completely clash with your home décor. But that doesn’t mean they can’t look chic in a minimalist space. Just turn the spines in. Yep, those white and off-white pages look cohesive in any space. You just have to not mind not being able to find your favorite tomes at a glance. If you want even more starkness, create a DIY book covers out of white paper or blank newsprint. That way, no matter what’s between the covers, you will have a completely matching set.


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