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  • Adriane Weinberg
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Brrrr…usually it’s cold in most of the country so we spend most of our time indoors. What’s your favorite indoor activity? I bet “reading” immediately sprang to mind.

Is your book collection organized so you can find just the right book you’re in the mood to read? Excellent! Or like many folks, are books scattered throughout the house? Do you even know what books you have? Do you regularly purge unwanted books or let them continue to occupy valuable space and collect dust?

Since you’re indoors more, now is a good time to get your books organized. Here are 11 tips.

  1. The library method, the most popular and reliable, separates books by category, then alphabetically by author’s last name (forget the Dewey decimal system!).
  2. By category.
  3. By author, then by title or year.
  4. By author.
  5. By title.
  6. Chronological, such as U.S. presidents for history buffs (Washington, Adams, Jefferson and so on)
  7. By color – or even limited to certain colors for a particular look. This may be a viable option for highly visual people, those who prefer aesthetics over practicality or the few who have a photographic memory.
  8. Put books where they’re useful, like cookbooks in the kitchen. (You’d think that would be obvious to everyone but you’d be wrong. I’ve organized people who had cookbooks everywhere but the kitchen. Not surprisingly, they were never used.)
  9. Add a few decorative items on bookshelves to add design interest.
  10. Mix it up – separate some books by category and some by favorite authors.
  11. There is no right or wrong way. But there is just one way – the way that works for you. It’s about finding what you want when you want it. If your system doesn’t work, tweak it until it does.

My largest book organizing project was 16 years ago with my first client. He had between 1,000 and 2,000 books. They were out of order. There were duplicates. His library was a mess. It took time and patience, but after donating unwanted ones and organizing the rest according to my client’s preferences, that massive job got done. My client was thrilled to have a functional library!

For my personal system, I mix it up. Fiction collections of two or more books by the same author (such as Binchy, Follet, Grisham, Ludlum) are arranged in alphabetical order by author’s last name. Next, single fiction books are in order by author’s last name. Books in other categories (such as organizing, business and design) are separated by category but not in any order. Some books are vertical. Some are horizontal. Small framed photos and pieces of art add to the overall look. I donate books when they no longer “speak” to me. My book collection is functional and attractive. With a little time and effort, yours can be too.

Organizing your books is worth doing. When planning your next vacation, you can quickly grab the books you want to read – much better than wasting time searching for them around the house or wasting money buying more at the airport.


Adriane Weinberg

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