How to Organize Books in 6 Easy Steps

Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Ellen Christian

In my perfect home, I would have a huge library with floor to ceiling bookcases that covered every wall.  Sadly, I don’t live in my ideal home.  I live in a small 1865 farmhouse that doesn’t have a lot of room. Since I love books, you’ll find them scattered throughout the house.  That would be enough of a problem if I were the only one in the house that loved books.  However, my husband and both kids love to read, so there are books everywhere. It was time for me to starting thinking about how to organize books.

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How to organize books

How to Organize Books


The first step in learning how to organize books is to take a realistic look at whether or not you NEED to keep the book. Will you ever read it again? Just because the series has 37 books doesn’t mean you need to keep them all if you’ll never read them again. Do you have 19 gardening books and do most of them have the same information in them? I know I am guilty of this one. Maybe you only need to keep eight of them?

  1. Take all of the books in your home and remove them from the bookshelves, coffee table, bedside table, under the bed or anywhere else you have them stashed.  Bring all the books to one central location.
  2. Hold each book and ask yourself whether or not it brings joy to your life. Not whether you liked the story. Not whether you may read it again. Not how much it cost. Does the book make you happy?  Box up the books that do not bring joy to your life.
  3. Now get rid of them. Drop them at the thrift store, donate them to your library, sell them or give them to a friend. Remove them from the house.
  4. Separate the remaining books into types.  Place the books in a central location per person. Cookbooks go in the kitchen. Your child’s books go in their room or bookcase. Your books go in your room, etc. It’s easy to lose track of how much you have when it’s scattered all over the house.
  5. Next you can get creative stacking the books.  If you stand your average fiction book up on its’ end, chances are it will take up more room than if you lay it flat and make a stack.  Move things around so that you can use the space you have in the most efficient way. Break things up by placing a small vase of flowers or figurine near a stack of books.
  6. Make sure that when you get a new book, you get rid of one that you currently have so everything can stay in one place. Ask yourself if the book is one you need to own. If not, consider the local library or download it as an ebook.

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How to organize your books in 6 easy steps


25 thoughts on “How to Organize Books in 6 Easy Steps”

  1. I am a book hoarder and having a hard time letting them go.  I do want to read the books I have, but I would probably have to live another 100 years to do so.  I have 40 + bookcases (most of them tall ones), and each is full or double full.  I have enough books in boxes and stacks to fill them again.  I collect old books, but those only account for about 3 large bookcases.  My books are organized by category throughout the house.  Our bedroom is the only room that doesn't have books.  I was a children's librarian for several years and developed quite a collection that I have shared with my grandchildren.  When I went to work at the library, I was put in charge of sorting the donations.  That was the kiss of death.  I found more authors and more books that I just had to read.  I do get rid of most of the books I read, but I am so far ahead of myself, I will never catch up.  I did go through some of the books a year or so ago and got rid of several boxes of books I figured I wouldn't read.   I have a kindle, but that has just made my TBR Mountain larger.  I am trying.
    • It really can be a challenge, Patricia. What I always tell myself is that unless the book is out of print, I can always get it from the library if I want to read it. So, I don't need to hold on to every single book I haven't read yet. Hoping you have success with yours!
  2. That's a great way to organize your books. My son and I just finished doing that in his room. We took them all off the shelves, set aside the ones he didn't want, and then sorted the rest according to characters. His bookshelves look much better now.
  3. I used to be a book hoarder until about 15 years ago when I downsized (the first time). That's when I got rid of all books I had read (I never read a book a second time). Over the years my bookshelves became more crowded as friends gave me some or I won them. I was also the volunteer librarian for my condo's bookshelves. Each spring, we donated any books older than 10 years so if I found something I liked in the donation box, I took them home. I downsized again and bought 5 small, inexpensive bookshelves that I can put in various places and the books are arranged strictly by copyright date. When I finish a book, it goes immediately to the community bookshelf. I love being surrounded by my huge collection of unread books - adventures not yet experienced.
  4. I have 17 bins of books in my garage that I need to go through and ask myself the joy question. 17 bins. That doesn't even count what isn't in my garage! I have a serious book problem! I'm grateful for ebooks, because I have 1300 books on my Kindle alone. Imagine how much space those would take up in my house? Love your tips! 
    • Oh my, Nikki! I am also going to ebooks, and grateful for them since my apartment only holds so much. I know I can start with tossing older science/medical books that are out of date. I will count my blessings though that I don't have 17 bins to go through, lol.
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  8. Hi Ellen: Had to share.....   Put those old books to good use....
  9. Anytime I see a picture of books especially if the word 'organize' is closeby, I'm drawn in. Why? Because I'm a book person and if you don't know what that really means, allow me. It's a curse! I long to have them organized, I really do, but I find it very difficult tp part with the bulk of them. Every so often, well- not too often, I do have the urge to rearrange them organize them and yes, to toss some of them - maybe twice a year. We're talking my treasures here. So, I look online for the latest home library tips. So, what do I do? Mostly just change their locations - if they were on the top shelf, their new location may end up on the second shelf - and so on. Once, or maybe twice, I filled up a medium size box - to take somewhere or donate it, whatever. So, I placed the box by the front door - handy, right?- a great place to be reminded that I needed to take the books with me on my next errand run.... but, the box sat in the same spot for days, then weeks-- until my son moved it back to the makeshift library room - where the box sits today. It has been in its new spot for eight months. So, you see, what I really need is instructions for how to part with my books -- really part with them. Help. please help!
    • I struggle with that too. Try bringing the box into the car as soon as it's full. At least then it won't be in the house!
  10. I am really bad about hoarding books. I've gotten bad over the years but I still have quite the collection. I really need to do a purge and donate some to the local library.
  11. Keep a few favorite books and pass the rest on when you've read them or know somebody who can use the lift of a book specific to their mood or situation in life.
  12. i love to read and there is a used book store just around the corner from me I can take books in to sell and buy new books so my books are always changing.
  13. I desperately need a place for my books in my bedroom. I could use a little bookshelf in the corner and that way I would be a lot more organized!
  14. I definitely need to organize my books!  We have way too many in our house.  Our bookshelves are so full you can't find anything on them!
  15. My son loves books and has since he was a child.  He will not let me get rid of any of them and he has quite the library!  But since he is now 25 years old and getting a place of his own he definitely needs to know how to display and store them.  These are wonderful tips and I will pass them on to him and use them for my own books as well.  Thanks so much.

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