My book collection has become rather sizable, and as I’m reaching the end of my university career and starting to think towards the future, I realize I’m going to have to start making some big decisions regarding my extensive book collection in the very near future. But what is the best way to organize books? When I was younger, books went on my single bookshelf in whatever order they ended up in. Throughout my undergrad and graduate degrees, I’ve organized my books by course. All the books for British Romanticism went in one section, and the books for Early Modern Love Poetry in another. Over summer holidays, I started arranging my books (which now span over two bookshelves) in alphabetical order by author’s last name. But what are some other choices?
My addiction to design blogs first introduced me to the concept of arranging books by color. Unfortunately, for the most part my books seem to be of similar colors, mostly consisting of blacks and dark blues and whites. While I love the way that this organizational choice looks, other than aesthetics it doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of organization.
Although the vast majority of my books are novels, choosing to organize by subject matter can be helpful if you have a broader collection. For an English major like me, I would break my books down by time period or genre.
My current system has worked well for a number of years, which involves going by author’s last name. The only problem I’ve found with this organizational system is that sometimes, when I get a collection of books that look beautiful together, I have to separate them out from the rest of the collection. For example, my Penguin Classic books with cover designs by Coralie Bickford-Smith now sit on the top shelf of my bookshelf because I can’t bear to separate them.
For people who are constantly using books for research or reference, sometimes it helps to keep the most significant books within easy reach from their work space. Rather than piling books up on the desk like I tend to do, why not bring over a smaller bookshelf where you can keep those volumes at hand? For books you use less often, try one of the other organizational styles.
What are some other ways you can think of to organize a book collection? Any input would be greatly appreciated!