One of the most difficult collections to ‘reign in’ is that of books. If you’re an avid bookworm, you probably have books in every room of your home, plus a wish list as long as your arm of titles you still want. E-books have helped in the hoarding books department to an extent, but they haven’t signalled the end of books as we know them. Most of us still prefer to hold the real deal in our hands – so the issue then becomes where to put them all!

Getting your books in a row

In terms of how best to organise your books, you should come up with a system that works for you and allows you to quickly find the book you’re looking for. The most popular book ‘arrangements’ include, by theme or subject, by colour, alphabetically, by language, by author or even by size. There are several cataloguing apps, programs and sites you can try to help you keep track of your collection and share your love of books with others, like:,,, BookBuddy – Book Library Manager (available through iTunes), and more. For bookish inspiration and display ideas, try And for a handy read, try Books Make a Home: Elegant Ideas for Storing and Displaying Books by Damian Thompson

Book display ideas

Shelve it – Invest in bookcases or shelving units that stretch from floor to ceiling. Not only will they make the room they’re in look bigger, they’ll also offer you enough storage space to co-ordinate your collection in a way that appears more ordered and less cluttered. Quick note though: Avoid overloading your shelves; put the heaviest books on the bottom shelf and the most-read ones somewhere in the middle.

Mix and match – Separate your collections with quirky bookends, or fill the gaps with interesting ornaments, picture frames, artistic elements, a small clock or even an hourglass, etc. And stack some books horizontally and others vertically (if you’re not too OCD about everything being in a straight line).

Sorting by genre or subject – This is pretty self-explanatory. Cookbooks one side, gardening books on the other and autobiographies, classic fiction, crime, self-help etc, somewhere in-between.

Size them up – Sometimes the size of a book will determine where it will go. Very tall books may end up on the coffee table if the book shelves aren’t high enough, while very small books could be stacked on top of each other to reach the average-sized titles standing next to them.

Use your A,B,Cs – If you can easily recall the names of authors and the titles of books, then alphabetizing your library may be the way to go.

Colour-coding – Lining your books up according to the colours of their spines may seem fun and interesting from a visual perspective, but it’s not very practical when you have to start looking for a title.

Wear and care

Consider the following when deciding where to keep your books – they should be off the floor, away from water or damp areas, out of direct sunlight and completely out of reach of little hands armed with crayons, to name a few. If you’ve come to a stage where, no matter how organized your book collection is, you still have too little space and too many books, it may be time for a clear-out. Try making three piles – Sell, Swop and Donate – and sort them like that. Be ruthless, even if it’s difficult. Remember, you’re creating space for more books!