Here is What You Can Do When You are Drowning in Books

Is your home a sea of books?  It’s a booklover’s dream and nightmare at the same time, to be able to say you have more books than you know what to do with.  Fortunately, there are many great ways to organize your home library, and some fantastic shelving options you could incorporate into your house.

Sort your books

If your book collection is really overwhelming it may be time to lighten it.  It can be difficult for a booklover to part with books, so here are some criteria professionals recommend for making your collection a bit smaller:


Books you are keeping could include favorite authors, books that are hard to replace, selections that work well with your overall collection, collector’s editions, unread books, and books you have enough space to keep.


In your discard bin you can include old, moldy or damaged books, books that aren’t favorites or classics, those you read and will not reread, books that have outdated information, and books that you simply don’t have room to keep.

When it comes time to eliminate your discards, experts suggest a variety of options.  Books can be sold online, donated to charities to resell, given to senior centers, churches or hospitals, or you may offer them through local or online book swaps.

Choosing an organizational system

Even if you have a pretty large book collection, you probably don’t want to use the Dewey Decimal System to get your library under control.  HowStuffWorks has some great suggestions:

  • Subject matter.  Organizing by subject matter is a relatively simple and straightforward system.  You can decide on what subjects seem most appropriate and their order.  For instance, if you are a history buff you might include a general history section, or if you have a larger collection a whole section on the Civil War may be more appropriate.  
  • Alphabetizing.  If you have a substantial amount of fiction, alphabetizing by authors’ names may be your best bet.  
  • Appearance.  The old cliche about judging books by their covers is not always true.  For some readers this is just the ticket.  You can organize by color or another aesthetic quality.  
  • Chronologically.  If you have books from throughout your life, you may want to consider shelving them in the order they became part of your story.  You could line them up from children’s books to teen novels, text books to parenting and self-help, or whatever categories apply.  Similarly you might shelve books in the order that you read them.  
  • Prioritizing.  Perhaps it makes sense to you to put your books in the order they seem most important.  Spiritual and personal guides may come first, or perhaps home maintenance manuals take top priority.  Maybe your favorite fiction books are most prominently displayed.  This highly personal system and may just work best for you.

Storage and shelving

Once you know how you want to organize your books you will need a place to put them all.  Think about what you would like to incorporate into your own unique home library.  

  • High ceilings?  Try high shelving and a ladder.  
  • Shelving can be installed under stairwells.
  • A home office is a classic choice for bookshelves.
  • Perhaps you have a nook, loft or other room to reinvent into a reading room.
  • Tight on space? Incorporate a vertical bookshelf onto a column or turn a room divider into book storage.
  • If you read in bed, you may want to find some space in your bedroom for books.

Experts at Freshome also suggest that you think outside of traditional library colors such as burgundies and browns.  Select colors that reflect your style and personality.

Enjoying your new library

Swimming in a sea of books is the booklover’s paradox.  It’s wonderful to have a lot of books, but it can feel like drowning if the book you are wanting can’t be found.  Follow these handy tips to do your sorting, decide on your personalized organizational system, and install your own unique bookshelves.  Then you can sit back, relax, and read.