Bookshelf Etiquette

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Bookshelf Etiquette

I came across a photo recently of a library where the books had been organized and filed based on the colour of the spine. It was an amazing rainbow of colour and so beautiful to look at, but how you would ever find a specific book? I’m guessing it was more aesthetically pleasing than practical and possibly done only for the photo shoot, but it did make me reconsider my filing system.

There’s the standard file by author, surname, first name, or book title, all of which are logical if you have a small collection. However, consider coming home with a copy of Animal Farm or a book by Aldous Huxley or Paul Auster and having to move every single book on the top shelf one or two inches to the right, then moving the last book on that shelf to the next shelf, etc. It could be time-consuming even if you have just a couple or three bookcases. The sensible amongst us would leave a small gap at the end of each letter section to alleviate that problem, and I actually know somebody who does this. Who am I to judge?

You could file by genre, such as travel, food, thriller, etc., and within each section subsequently, file by author or title. A seemingly simple strategy that allows quick access to titles, as long as you understand whether A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain would be filed under food or travel, and providing you allow a gap at the end of each genre to avoid the domino filing effect outlined above.

File by publishing house and just look at how tidy all those little logos look when they’re sitting next to each other; how pretty and regimented do all those little penguins look? But trying to find a book could still be a challenge unless you have a photographic memory and can associate an animal or logo to a specific book.

Size is important. Or is it? Maybe not too much but it can bring an aesthetically pleasing look to your bookshelves and a room. It won’t help you find a title more easily though.

Filing by random, which reflects the disarray in a persons’ head and/or a lack of physical space, is just too random for my liking. It brings a whole new level of chaos that I for one could never tolerate. 

What’s your preferred method? Let us know by emailing us here Or get some new bookshelf inspiration by seeing our favourite organizational ideas on our Instagram.

Jacqui Hodges

With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.

A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for  industry publications.

Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli


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