Friday, September 29, 2006

How do you organize/organise your books?

Recently, Bibliobibuli asked, Do you organize your books by subject? Or by size?

That was a really easy question for me to answer because, for as long as I remember, I have been arranging my books by subject - I have several shelves devoted to World Lit., many more to Asian contemporary fiction and still others to biographies, reference books etc., but after reading the article that bibliobibuli pointed to in the Design Observer, I decided to colour coordinate my books (temporarily and just for fun). I have pictures of the end result - messy maybe, but hot or wot? ;)

How do you organize your books?


karen! said...

Love the color coordination! but it's probably not the most practical way of orgazing your books ;)

Right now, I would have to say that the books in our house are pretty disorganized (too many books, too little space).
I have one bookcase dedicated to BookCrossing books (my to-be-read pile) with a special section for books that need to be mailed.
The four other bookcases in the house are a mixture of my books and my husband's. They were organized at one point, but now we just stick books in wherever they fit (right now almost all the bookshelves are two books deep).
Library books are in little piles in the living room.
Most of my BookCrossing available books are in a box.
I also have a box for books that I'm supposed to bring to the Oakville meetups,
and a box for books that are waiting for traveling partners,
as well as a box for books going to BookCrosser zzz (I'm organizing an m-bag for him).

Bookfool said...

I had to chuckle at the color coordination! It's pretty, but I'd never be able to find a thing if I organized that way. On the other hand, my books are organized in rather an ADD fashion - pretty chaotic. I do have favorites on the "good shelves" but there are some unread books thrown in. Reference books, particularly those about writing, are in the best order - and I never read them. Figures.

If anything, I probaly really organize by height. It disturbs me to see a cityscape look on my bookshelves.

Dawn said...

The colors are stunning!!! They look great! Well, I'm a I do it by subject..but I also have my old books seperate from my newer books (I love very old books)....and I have my mysteries and stuff upstairs...craft books in the craft room....that kind of I'm a bit like a public library......

Beloved dreamer said...

Lotus, the colors look pretty and I love your little collection(?) of local Gods but how can you find any thing?
I on the other hand am very lazy but seem to be able to picture where a book is or at least where I last left it. lol Someday I organize it all as it was in the begining. Now I just don't have the time.
Lotus are you going home again and are you going to stay there.? Gosh
I hope that you will keep in touch.
I sure will miss you.!

I do not think anyone liked my poem this week but then you can't have a winner every week. I found this prompt hard to put into words.
Wish I could have been at the street Fair with you.


Rosemary Esehagu said...

Hello, Lotus.

Impressive! How long did it take you to organize your books? It must have taken quite a while. Organizing by color probably makes it easier to find books. You can just tell someone, "go to the blue section of the bookcase, it's the fourth book on the uppermost shelf."

I organize by height, and I try to group books by the same authors (which tend to be similar in size) together. One of my bookcases is a large corner bookcase whose structure allows me to arrange my books in a quarter-circular manner, so I position the biggest books more laterally and position the smallest books more medially. The result is that the books curve in a little bit. My mind likes this arrangement very much.

Les said...

Love the rainbow color look, but it'd drive me crazy. I'm too anal about my books. I have all the fiction books I've read in one bookcase, overflowing to another, which holds all my nonfiction that I've read. The top shelf is reserved for signed books. That bookcase also holds some fiction that is yet to be read (on the lower shelves) and that collection flows on upstairs to a bookcase in my office and then to my nightstand/built-in shelves. And of course, ALL are in alphabetical order by author. Another bookcase holds my cookbooks and my hubby's books (pretty much nonfiction - history & bios). The basement bookcases are for most of his computer, nonfiction, and fiction books. No rhyme or reason to his shelving methods. I could go on about other shelves, but this gives you the idea. Perhaps I'll do a photo essay blog entry some day. :)

J said...

My books are 95% fiction, so they're alpha by author. Ted's are 95% non fiction, so they're by subject, but we live in a little condo and we have WAY too many books, so really, they're all over the dang place and you're lucky to find what you need.

hellomelissa said...

where on earth did you find the time to color coordinate your books?! you amaze me!! i have too many books, alphabetized by author last name, but i give them away as i go, only saving the REAL favorites. they are all over the house, mostly in our new attic room. t however has WWWAAAAYYYY too many books, and his studio is filled, top to bottom, side to side, with shelving for them, organized by category. he files his dvd library the same way.

great idea for a post, lotus! i may copy you! but my books won't be color-coded, although the visual result is stunning.

s loved the get well card, and it cheered her considerably to get her OWN email. thank you!

Susan in Italy said...

Like you, I organize my library first by caegory (all Lat. Amer. magic realism on the left, Harlem Renaissance nect to that, etc) and like Melissa, I can't imagine where you found the time to arrange your shelves by color! It's really pretty, though.

nomadica said...

I love the color coordination! I organise my books by dividing fiction and nonfiction on the bookshelf but the new ones that are waiting to be read are placed elsewhere so that I can find them more easily. I've color coordinated a few books in my living room - nice pretty hardbacks that are orange or red (so that they match the decor!!)

booklogged said...

I think your shelves look stunning! I want to do this. A problem I forsee - I can picture myself in a bookstore buying books that will enhance the color scheme even though they do not interest me. That's probably the quilter in me. Aha! That's what your shelves look like - a beautiful book quilt. I think it would lift my spirtis to be in that room of yours with that beautiful backdrop.

Gaijin Mama said...

Mine are totally disorganized and in three different rooms, though I do have a shelf for poetry. This makes for fun browsing, because I sometimes forget which books I have, then rediscover them when I am searching for something in particular.

Color coordination is an interesting idea. Looks pretty!

gautami tripathy said...

This looks neat..

My books are bit of both...organised as well as disorganised.

My books on physics/maths/chemistry are all at one place. Same goes for poetry And for others, most lie scattered...even in my book selves. In all that mess, I know which book lies where.

Colour coordinating my books. It never even entered my mind.

Carl V. said...

I like it! I recently did that as well when I finished painting the bookshelf that my dad and I made. I like the look, blending one color into the next.

Jude said...

Hey Lotus- I used to organise my books by subject, but they looked so aesthetically displeasing that I tried organising them by size and now I'm so busy I just don't bother organising at all- I'm going for the mad writer look.

Lulu said...

great photo, lotus! i colour co-ordinate my wardrobe but haven't thought of doing the same for my books. what a fab idea. all my husband's science fiction books go on one shelf. then i have my books organised by travel, language books, indian fiction, non-indian fiction, non-fiction. my cookbook collection is, of course, the biggest. so i have moved all my cookbooks to the kitchen.

tanabata said...

The colour coordinating is great! I don't have enough space but it's a great look. As for organising, I have a top shelf for signed books, then travel guides, and cookbooks are each on a shelf, otherwise, because of space issues, they tend to be arranged by size- massmarkets, tradepaperbacks, hardbacks. Most of my shelves are double stacked horizontally! So I can fit more in that way! :P

Anonymous said...


Lotus, I live in Malaysia! This is the land where chaos more often than not reigns supreme.

Aunty Bib's probably the only one in Malaysia who's colour coded her bookshelf!

a.c.t said...

Great post - there's nothing that excites me more than seeing books/DVDs/CDs stacked on the shelf. If you don't mind I think I'll nick this idea for a future post.

Library Lady said...

Love It! I'll be doing a display case with blue and re(a)d books for homecoming.

I personally don't organize, get enough of that at work. I have piles here, there and everywhere! ;-) Maggie

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Karen!

I know all about those boxes of books and how they pile up - when I was very active in bookcrossing, I had them all over the floor of my study, until one day, I got so tired of seeing them I took them all to my daughter's book sale event at school and dumped them there - what a relief that was! :))

Hi, bookfool!

LOL @ "cityscape look"! I know what you mean and that's exactly what mine looks like at the moment, but because the color is pleasing I tend not to notice that they're not arranged neatly according to height.

Hi, Dawn!

Yes, I LOVE the look and feel of old books, too. You're lucky to have so many - I have very few, but if I had more I would dedicate lots of space to them.

Hi, Melanie!

Yes, the colours are pretty, but like we've already established, not very practical! :) I don't care if I can't find anything at the moment, because I've taken out the books I need to read over the next month or so and put them on my nightstand. In any case, this is just temporary - I so wanted to experiment with colour. Glad you liked the arrangement!

Hi, Rosemary - so wonderful to see you here! It didn't take long for me to rearrange my books because my 11-year old was determined to help me - she did most of the work and we were done in a couple of hours. I'm fascinated by your observation that books by similar authors tend to be of the same height? As I don't read too many books by the same author, I haven't been able to prove that theory myself, but it's interesting - I guess these are usually books belonging to a series?

Ohhh, how beautiful that you're able to create the illusion of books curving in a little - I'd like to try that sometime. Do you have a picture?

Hi, Les!

I hope one day to be able to fill a shelf with signed books, but I have a long way to go yet! I also like that your nightstand is one with inbuilt shelves - I have drawers and they are not so convenient. As for arranging my books alphabetically, I have always wanted to do that, but height and size always won!:) I so look forward to your photo essay blog entry -there'll be lots to discuss and ideas to share.

Hi, J!

For many people, chaos is order - I used to love having my books arranged randomly, only very recently have I become a stickler for order!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Melissa!

You imbibe the true spirit of bookcrossing - giving your books away and keeping only the REAL favorites! But don't you have boxes all over your floor like many other bookcrossers do? I know I did and those darn boxes would drive me crazy! And you're more than welcome to do a similar post - I would LOVE to see pictures!

Thanks, Susan!

It didn't take too long - I had my 11-year old help me, infact,she did most of the work. Also, I only rearranged the shelves in the study - I left the shelves in basement alone, I just couldn't bear messing with them!

Hi, Nomadica!

I don't have any books (apart from a few coffee table books) in the living room at the moment, but the plan is to buy a compact bookcase and fill it up with nice hardback books with classy spines! Your living room sounds so nice.

Hi, booklogged!

Thank you - you really do say the most wonderful things! And I had to laugh out loud to read that color-coordinating your books might influence you to buy books with colorful spines, lol, well, you'd have company, I'm sure I'd be tempted to do the same thing :))) And I didn't know you were a quilter, wow!

Hi, Gaijin Mama!

You said: This makes for fun browsing, because I sometimes forget which books I have,then rediscover them when I am searching for something in particular That is always such a nice feeling, isn't it? It's like taking out a jacket you haven't worn in a while only to find a couple of bills inside the pocket - always a pleasant surprise!

Hi, Gautami!

Academic books can be very challenging to colour coordinate because they tend to have very practical spines with no fancy colors. Also, they are usually tomes which means they are almost always on the lowermost shelves of my bookcase. I love that you collect poetry - I need to add some poetry books to my collection. Some Pablo Neruda would be nice - I see you are a fan of his :)

Thanks, Carl!

It is nice on the eyes. I love color, so this was an experiment I felt I just had to do and I love the result!

Hi, Jude!

The "mad-writer look" has a really nice ring to it - I'll bet it looks nice too :)

Hi, Lulu!

You color coordinate your wardrobe? Now there's an idea I might have to borrow for my next project! :) Yes, having seen your beautiful food blog, you must have a pretty impressive collection of cookbooks! I am not much of a cook, but I have found that I enjoy reading cookbooks - many of them hold a wealth of cultural information that I absolutely delight in. THanks so much for dropping by, Lulu.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Nat!

Ahhhh, yes, travel books - I need a whole separate bookcase for them. I collect "Insight Guides" for their mindblowing photography, but most are so voluminous, they take up a lot of space.

Hi, Aneeta!


There's something so familiar about Malaysia, perhaps because it reminds me a little of India?

I wonder if Sharon knows I made a project out of her post? When she returns from Bali - I send her a few pictures.

Hi, act

Oh, yes, please! I enjoy seeing pictures of bookshelves - like you say, it's exciting!

Hi, Maggie

Welcome! Woooo, a blue and red book display for Homecoming, how wonderful! It's bound to look just splendid, and being the library, you'll have mounds of reds and blues to choose from! Do share pictures, if you can!

Di (of Di's Book Blog) said...

I have been a really good library person for about 14 years and suddenly in the last year I am buying, buying, buying. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I gave up drinking wine ever evening so I had to have at least ONE vice. I have an Excel spreadsheet in which I organize the books I have read...makes it easy to search. As for my bookshelves...we recently moved into a house that has bookshelves about 14 feet high on either side of the fireplace (in Florida....yeah, that's going to get a lot of use!) And leaning up against one of them we have the ladder from my son's former bunk beds. The primary focus of my organization is to keep my husband from noticing how many books I am some are hidden in my nightstand drawers and ones to be read fairly soon are on top of my nightstand. I have a shelf of his business books, tried to put all the miscellaneous sports books together and a shelf of golf books. But other than that my eclectic selection is just sort of put in there. And that doesn't even count the ones that are "on loan"!

I LOVE the color coded very Pottery Barn...have you ever noticed how their catalog will show a bookshelf with all the books having red binding. Can you imagine going to buy someone a book for a gift and saying, "Hmmm...I can't buy that one because the binding is purple!"

Long answer to a short question? That's what I'm famous for. I'm not really famous...but if I was...

Lotus Reads said...

Hello, Di and welcome!

Goodness, I would give a lot for your 14-ft bookshelves, they sound absolutely wonderful! How lucky you are! And the nightstand drawers are a great hiding place - you are sneaky, but I love it! I hide most of mine in the basement guest room cupboard - hubby abhors going down there so my books are safe! ;)

LOL @ PotteryBarn - no I haven't seen their catalogue, but I would quite believe they would be into everything color-coordinated!

Delightful comment, thank you!

bibliobibuli said...

wow!!! you did it! the result looks wonderful. i wonder if i have the guts to try it? probably not because marshalling them all into alphabeticalness afterwards would just be too dauting!

Denise said...

My shelves are color coordinated now! My two oldest children did it for me for my birthday this past weekend. We love it. But we need more shelves because everything is double stacked and we couldn't get it quite the way we wanted due to lack of room.

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks, bibliobibuli!

After reading your post - I just had to take up the colour challenge and I am glad I did :) Thank you for such a fun post!

Yeay, Denise!

Doesn't it make the whole room come alive? Seeing all those books arranged in the colours of the rainbow is so pleasing to the eye. You are a lucky mom and that's a cool birthday gift - enjoy it!

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