Conquer the TBR Pile: 17 Creative Ways to Tame Your Book Collection

Posh Pennies
by Posh Pennies

Hey friend! Today we're going to explore 17 attractive ways to organize your book collection.

Setting Expectations

Before we dive in, I want to set some expectations straight. This video isn't about creating a perfect shelfie for social media. It's about organizing a large-ish book collection. Some methods are more visual, while others are more practical. Skip the ones you don't like, and hopefully you'll find something that works for you!

The challenge with a large collection is knowing what you have and accessing it easily. It should also look nice! Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve this balance.

A Few Controversial Ideas

A few book organization ideas in this video are controversial because they prioritize form over function. Feel free to ignore them! The great thing is, there's no right or wrong way. Organize your books however you like, as long as you can find what you need and enjoy the look.

My hope is that everyone can find a method (or a combination of methods!) that works for them.

Before You Beautify

Before beautifying and organizing, assess your collection. Here are a few tips:

  1. Empty Your Bookcases: Completely empty your bookcases for a fresh start. Clean the shelves while they're bare.
  2. Edit Your Collection: Channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself if you truly want each book. Consider donating, gifting, or selling unwanted titles.
  3. Plan Your Space: Decide if your collection will stay put or relocate. Do you need new shelves or special protection for valuable books?

1. Dust Jackets: A Dilemma

Consider removing dust jackets. Often, the hardcover covers underneath are beautiful and solid. However, only do this if you're sure you won't want the dust jackets back on.

2. Borrow Ideas from Bookstores

Do you have a favorite bookstore? Look at how they display their collection.

Take note of their organization methods and anything else you like, such as the type of shelves they use or a cozy reading nook.

3. Categorize and Conquer

Here are some categorization methods:

  • By author
  • By genre
  • By fiction vs. nonfiction
  • By classic vs. modern literature
  • By cookbooks, travel books, art books, etc.

4. Utilize Semi-Accessible Storage

Store less-used books in large, matching baskets on the bottom shelf. This works for ugly, tattered books, or any you don't want to display prominently.

Choose a color palette for your storage baskets. A mismatch will detract from the overall look.

5. Hardcover vs. Paperback

Hardcover books tend to look neater on shelves than paperbacks, which can get messy after reading. Consider separating your hardcovers from your paperbacks.

6. Embrace Color Coordination

You don't have to create a literal rainbow of books, although that can look amazing.

Simply arrange books in groups of colors that complement each other.

7. Stack It Up!

Neat rows of books filling a shelf are satisfying, but break them up with horizontal stacks for visual interest.

Use these stacks for decor items or to store magazine collections.

8. Label Love (or Loathing)

This method is time-consuming but visually cohesive. Use labels made from paper, fabric, or anything you find attractive. Write the title on the label and stick it on the spine. You can also recover a portion of your books if labeling all of them feels overwhelming.

9. Bottom Shelf Bliss

Place larger books on the bottom shelf for visual balance. A top-heavy look is less aesthetically pleasing.

10. Alphabetize Your Way to Success

If you remember titles and authors better than colors, alphabetize your books by author or title. An overwhelmed feeling is common with a large collection. If this applies to you, check out this TED-Ed video:

They demonstrate the fastest way to alphabetize a bookshelf, sorting nearly 1,300 books in just three and a half hours!

11. Group by Size and Height

Group books that are all the same size and height together. This creates a clean and uncluttered look. Do this after organizing everything else.

12. Decorate, But Don't Crowd

Once you've organized your books, introduce decor items among them.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything smaller than an orange, as it will clutter the shelf.

13. Double Up

Adding two rows of books per shelf maximizes space and creates a layered look. The drawback is that back-row books will be harder to access.

14. The Backwards Book Method

The backwards book method, where the book spines face the wall, is purely for aesthetics. It can unify a bookshelf with mismatched colors, sizes, and thicknesses.

15. Plan Your Next Reads

If you have several books lined up that you're planning to read soon, create a dedicated "To Be Read" section. Use a rolling cart or basket to group these future reads or new purchases.

16. Don't Push It

Here's a small detail, but keep it in mind for deep bookshelves: avoid pushing books all the way back to the wall. Instead, keep the spines close to the shelf's front edge for better light and visibility. This also makes them appear tidier and easier to access.

17. Inspire the Next Generation

Inspire your kids to love reading! Create a mini library in their bedroom. Kids' books often have fun covers, so don't be afraid to display those bright colors and quirky designs.

There are many creative ways to store children's books besides a standard bookshelf. Here are some ideas:

  • Floating shelves
  • Picture ledges
  • Vintage steamer trunks
  • Baskets
  • Rolling carts
  • Plastic bins
  • Spice racks
  • Cube storage units
  • Over-the-door fabric organizers

How Do You Organize Your Book Collection?

I truly hope you learned something and feel inspired to organize your books in a new or better way. Let me know how you organize your books at home! Is there a method I didn't mention that you use?

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