Find your library style. No matter your reading preferences, the books you choose to keep in your home should hold special meaning for you — books that are only so-so aren’t worth making room for on your shelves. Once you’ve decluttered your library, it’s time to decide on a sorting method. Here are a few to consider.
- Bookstore-style. Sorting nonfiction books by subject and fiction alphabetically by author works especially well for larger book collections, for which other organizing methods would fall short.
- By theme. This fun method of sorting will appeal especially to creative types. To try it, pick a broad theme (like “water”) and shelve all books related to this topic together, from cookbooks (coastal cooking and fish recipes) to fiction (Like Water for Chocolate, The Old Man and the Sea) to nonfiction (beach houses, water-wise gardens).
- Rainbow order. As sorting methods go, this controversial idea works best for visually oriented people. If you learn best visually, you may be surprised at how easy it is to find a certain book based on the color of the spine.
Try it: Sorting by color. If sorting your books by color sounds appealing to you, I urge you to give it a try — there is something soothing about looking at shelves arranged by color, and it never fails to impress guests. If you want to try it, you will need to dedicate an hour or more (depending on how many books you have to sort) to the initial process. Here are a few color-sorting tips.
- You don’t need to stick with rainbow order; books in blocks of color look great no matter the order.
- Depending on the colors in your decor (and your personal preference) you may want to limit the color blocking to certain hues. Books that don’t work with the scheme can go in baskets or be moved to shelving in a different room.
- Even one color-sorted shelf can have a big impact. Try it with your cookbooks!
Try it: Add cover appeal. One of the reasons it’s so much fun to browse in a good bookstore is the visual nature of the book displays. To increase engagement with your home library, try to find a few places in your home where you can display books with covers facing out. Here are a few ideas:
- Top a round table with short stacks of interesting books.
- Install picture shelves and use them to display books instead of artwork.
- Top a credenza with a few favorite books, either lying flat or standing upright.
Special care for rare books. If you have a passion for collecting rare first editions or antique volumes, it is important to take some precautions to protect your investment. To keep your most treasured books in good shape, be sure to:
- Keep books out of direct sunlight, as it can bleach the covers.
- Shelve books neatly, with bookshelves snug but not overcrowded.
- Lay very large and heavy books flat.
- When looking at a book, set it on a table, and don’t open the spine farther than it wants to go.
- Wash your hands before handling!