Inside: Learn the best ways to organize books in your home. You can do these with or without a bookshelf!

Do you own a lot of books?

If you do, you’ve probably spent some time trying to figure out how to organize your home library. Coming up with the best way to arrange books in your home isn’t always easy – but I’m here to help.

In this article, I’ll answer some of your biggest questions about storing and organizing books at home.

If you’re trying to figure out…

  • What is the best way to arrange books?
  • Where should you keep books at home?
  • How can you organize books without a bookshelf?

I’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more!

best way to organize books

The Best Ways to Declutter Books

To organize your books, start by decluttering. 

Now, you might be saying, “Books are NOT clutter!” 

But hear me out. Books can be clutter, depending on how organized they are, how often they’re used, and how you feel about them. 

Sort through your books with those things in mind, and chances are, you’ll come across at least a couple of books that could be considered clutter.

And if they’re clutter?

They’ve got to go.

It’s a good idea to get rid of the ones you don’t really love and pass them on to those who will appreciate them. Decluttering books is as easy as donating them to a local charity. 

What is the Best Way to Organize and Arrange Books

After you’ve gotten rid of the books you no longer need, it’s time to get down to business and organize your books. 

Trying to figure out the best way to organize books in your house?

To start, you should…

Look at Your Entire Book Collection

You can’t begin to solve a problem that you don’t quite understand. To figure out the best way to organize your books, you need to know just how many books you’re trying to organize. 

Step back and give your bookshelf a critical review. And if you’re trying to organize more than one bookcase of books? Get ‘em all into one place, even if that means taking them off of your shelves.

By putting them all in one place, you can understand the magnitude of what you’re trying to accomplish, sort them into whatever categories make sense to you, and get them into a more organized state.

best way to organize books

Get Rid of Unwanted Books

Getting rid of unwanted books is an important but necessary step in the organizational process.

As I mentioned earlier, donating them to charity is a great way to declutter your bookshelves and give back to your community in the process.

Many local organizations, including women’s shelters, homeless centers, children’s homes, schools, and libraries, will gladly take books in good conditions off of your hands. Gifting them to your local Buy Nothing group is another great option.

But what else can you do with those unwanted books?

You can try to sell them. You can hold a garage sale, post them on Ebay, or use Facebook Marketplace to try to find new owners for your books.

Or, for a somewhat controversial suggestion, consider crafting with them. Some people can’t tolerate the thought of destroying a book – but you can make some pretty incredible crafts with them. You can find endless ideas on Pinterest!

Figure Out Where to Put Books Where They’re Needed

A smart way to store your books is to keep them close to wherever you need to access them.

Keeping books “out of sight, out of mind” is a great way to make sure nobody reads them. Instead, keep your books wherever people might think to grab one.

As an example, your cookbooks shouldn’t be in your bedroom, or in the office. They should be in – or near – your kitchen, easily accessible when you need to look up a recipe or find some inspiration for dinner.

Tuck those books into cabinets, onto shelves, or into cupboards for easy access. You’ll be glad you did!

Decide the Best Way to Arrange Books for YOU!

Ultimately, the best way to arrange books in your space is the way that’s going to work for YOU. 

You can choose to arrange your books…

By title or author

Organize titles alphabetically, by title or author, if you always know what you’re looking for. This is especially helpful if you own lots of books in the same series, or by the same author, and would like to keep them together.

By category or genre

If you have lots of cookbooks, fantasy novels, mystery reads, and historical fiction books, it may make sense to group books of similar themes together for easy access. 

By size

Sorting your books from big to small – or thin, quick reads to thick, long novels – you can achieve a totally different look and feel.

By color

Many people choose to embrace the colors of the rainbow by placing their books in ROYGBIV order. Others take a more random approach while grouping like colors together.

best way to organize books

Creative Ways to Organize Your Books: Think Outside the Bookshelf

Now, you may be wondering, “How can you organize books without a bookshelf?”

There are lots of reasons you might not have a bookshelf. Maybe you don’t have enough space. Or you don’t want to buy one.

Maybe you don’t really have enough books to warrant a bookshelf – or WAY too many books to fit into one.

Fortunately, you can organize and store books without a bookshelf.

And your options are only limited by your imagination… well as your home’s architecture. And your willingness to buy furniture.

Depending on your home setup, there are lots of different ways you can store your books: on shelves, mantles, and windowsills, or in built-in shelving, if you happen to have some. You can also purchase a variety of bookshelves to fit any style or space. 

Here are just a few of my favorite creative ideas:

Use Floating Bookshelves Vertically

Floating bookshelves aren’t technically ‘outside the bookshelf,’ but they are a fun and creative twist on the traditional bookshelves.

If you’re going for a minimalist aesthetic in your home but still want to keep some books on display, a floating bookshelf can be a great solution.

Vertical bookshelves aren’t the most efficient option for storing lots of books, but they do make a visual statement! 

Create a Bookcase Bench

One of my favorite book storage ideas is a bookcase bench! Buy or build a bookcase bench to store your books and add some extra seating to your bedroom – or any other room in your home.

This post is filled with inspiration for different bench storage options that work perfectly for books.

Store Your Books in Crates and Nooks

Don’t have a whole bookcase worth of books? No problem. You can easily store your books around your home in various spots – and keep things organized.

By keeping books in spots where you’re likely to need them, you’ll make sure they get the most use possible. Keep weekend reads in the living room, your pre-bedtime book on your nightstand, cookbooks in the kitchen, and so on. 

In each room, find an out-of-the-way spot to store books. You can put books in the corner of a room on a ledge, in a box or bin that matches the style of your space, or inside a cabinet, cubby, or nook.

best way to organize books

How to Care For and Store Your Books

A big part of storing your books is making sure you’re storing them properly. After all, you want them to last – and with a little TLC, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to keep them for as long as you’d like.

Is it Bad to Stack Books?

Many people wonder, “Is it OK to stack books on top of each other?”

The answer? Not really.

While you aren’t going to cause immediate damage, you’re putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on the spines of your books – especially the ones at the bottom of the pile, so don’t stack them too high.

Because of this, it’s better to store your books horizontally, but having a few stacked vertically is fine too.

How to Preserve Your Books for a Long Time?

Want to preserve antique books that you own?

You probably need to put them away.

While books will last for years on a shelf, they tend to weather with time. Moisture, dust, and other elements will take their toll. 

Instead, the best way to preserve your books for a long time includes wrapping them in acid-free, UV-resistant plastic book covers to help protect them.

Is it OK to Store Books in a Plastic Container?

Thinking about storing your books in a plastic container? That’s totally fine!

Plastic containers offer great protection from moisture, dust, mites, and other things that may damage your books in the long run.

Just make sure you store your books horizontally in your plastic container, not stacked on top of each other. 

The Best Way to Organize Your Books is the One That Works for You!

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to organize your books.

It depends on a few different factors, like the books you own, the space you’re in, and whether or not you have shelving to store them. 

As long as your books are stored and organized in a way that makes sense and looks good to you, you’re good to go!

Want to keep up to date with The Simplicity Habit? Sign up on the form below and get weekly organizing and decluttering tips sent straight to your inbox. You’ll also get the free Decluttering Jumpstart which includes 100 easy items to declutter and 12 high-impact areas to declutter in 10 minutes.

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  1. Great article!! We love books in our house but have very little space. Then we have three kids of different ages who need their own books. It’s really a struggle to keep them neat and not overstuff the bookcases, sometimes damaging them.

    We used to enjoy collecting used books and learned the importance of smelling them for mold/mildew. Books that are decades old may have been kept at some point in people’s garages where mold took hold. One moldy book in your collection can spoil other books nearby. We do a sniff test before bringing home used books or even accepting them from grandparents. It was hard to let go of a book that had been in the family multiple generations, but they are the most likely to be harboring mold spores.

    I’ve found a very convenient method of passing books on is to leave them in the Little Free Libraries that have sprouted throughout my neighborhood. When I’ve finished a book I don’t need to keep, rather than try and incorporate it into the overstuffed bookshelves, I set it out to grab for my morning jog and drop it off in the first little free library that I pass by. This system has really helped me remove the guilt of buying a book to just read once.

  2. I appreciated this article Julianna! I love books but I have never owned a lot of them at one time. My best friend has tons of books! I love my kindle paperwhite because I can get books from my library and not have a lot of books sitting around and I love that our local used book store gives credit when you take books down to them. That is a big part of why I don’t own many. I keep them rotated. However, recently I let go of all my favorite kids books and the little girl I gave them too was so happy! I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner!

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