Bookshelf system: How does your library go?

October is National Book Month, and today, I want to talk about how we store our books on our bookshelves. More specifically, I want to see your books on your bookshelves.

This weekend, I had an interesting conversation about both creative types of bookstorage (inspiration?) and the many ways people arrange their bookshelves. By color, by size, by binding, by subject…. or all of those categories within subcategories, even. In order of acquisition? Alphabetical? And so, I want to see your bookshelves. Or, your favorite bookshelf.

Are your shelves tidy or messy? Do you have a system or is it a book free-for-all? Let’s hear it. For bonus points, take a photograph, or take a few photographs, even, and throw them into the Chicago Subtext flickr pool, give us a shout in the comments section and let us know what’s what and which belongs to whom. Ready? Go!

Filed under: design

Tags: books, bookshelves, design, home


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  • Tangentially related... This is the last week to nominate a librarian for the I Love My Librarian Award. Up to 10 librarians nationwide (in schools, colleges and public libraries!) will win $5,000! More info:

  • When I moved overseas I gave away about 3000 books to friends and The Brown Elephant. Another 500 or so went into storage, and I took maybe 125-150 with me. That collection has grown to maybe 300 books, loosely arranged in categories. I have over a shelf of professional books about writing and teaching, a partial shelf of travel books, and then the rest, almost all fiction, more or less arranged as either trade paperbacks or standard sized paperbacks. I also have a stack of chick lit books (a guilty pleasure) which are pulled out of the rest of the fiction because they tend to get read once and passed along to others.

  • We try to group books by subject/genre (ie, keep all the fiction together, then the non-fiction) but what happens is more like this: size. One of us collects large, art- and coffee-table books, and those don't fit on all shelves. So the tall books go on the shelf where they will fit, and the rest go...where they will fit.

  • You can check out the content of my library at, which is my catalog. My physical library is so over-filled that I'm hesitant to let any pictures of it out in public!

  • In reply to BTRIPP:

    Try ... somehow the comment thing decided to append the comma to the link, making it non-functioning!

  • In reply to BTRIPP:

    I seriously need a book case or some sort of book-holding mechanism. I don't have any and so there are stacks of books EVERYWHERE... mostly put away, but man, I need HELP! Specifically from someone with this sort of expertise, and space management in a home.

  • In reply to BTRIPP:

    I have so many books crammed into my small apartment. It's a veritable mish-mosh of genre and topics all smooshed together, except for the graphic novels- they have their own little ghetto of capes n cowls n anthropomorphic mice.

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