A couple months ago I noticed a trend in online articles about bookshelves...they were all really NEGATIVE! It was baffling. That a website/blogger would put together an entire article that would highlight what they considered improper shelving practices and criticisms was disheartening. All the accompanying photos are usually from Instagram and would range from magazine staged photos to the everyday bibliophile's home library photos. BUT there would never be any acknowledged distinction between the different types of photos, nor would they give any true credit to the original picture poster (other than the obligatory "credit" tag in itty-bitty font under the pic, that let's face it, most people don't check...and this is usually done in highly critical articles). It was all very derisive, "how dare people organize and display books this way!"...as if there is a right and wrong way?
Then the ranting would begin in the comments too. Disbelief that any of the pics were honest-to-goodness bibliophile home libraries or snide remarks that no one reads that much or that the owner obviously only chose books for aesthetic purposes. Once again, it was all very aggravating. Why criticize something like how a person chooses to organize their bookshelves?
Okay, before I get too critical myself, there are a high number of other articles that do showcase the awesomeness of bookcases and shelves. I don't want to discount those! It was just that I had noticed an uptick in these awful articles and I was driven to action. I wanted to do my own article and ask all the amazing book lovers that I have the pleasure of interacting with on Instagram to submit their home library photos. My goal was to showcase all the lovely shelves and state, in no uncertain terms, that there is NO wrong way to organize and display books. Alphabetically, Publication Date, Color Coordinated, Genre, Author, Size... each technique has it's own merit and whichever works for you is the right way!
So here are some amazing Home Libraries and a few words from their owners...enjoy all the awesomeness and click on the pics to visit the individual Instagram accounts!
Emily: I've always had a deep love for reading, but I didn't really start collecting books until about 10 years ago when I discovered the wonder of used book sales. Since then, my collection has grown by leaps and bounds.
The first time I organized my books by color was over a year ago and I only did it because the idea kept popping into my mind and I couldn't get it out. I decided to try it, telling myself that I could always switch it back to alphabetical if I didn't like it. I loved it and, although I change it up every couple months, I always keep it color organized.
People always ask me how I find any books. I tend to remember the color of the spine and where I have placed it on my shelves. It's like a big, functional piece of art in my living room. It makes me happy.
Nicole: [I'm] a 26 year old wife, dog mom, MSW (master of social work), and a bookworm! My personal library is my world and has been a dream of mine to obtain. I plan to keep growing it as well. I organize my books by author, alphabetically. I am very type A and they have to be very organized!
I prefer to not have items on my shelf's but sometimes that's not possible! I have to have a comfy, oversize chair next to the bookshelves to be able to read. Big windows help for us bookstagrammers too!
Caryn: My family of four lives in a small 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan. I stay at home with our youngest and I am a picture book illustrator and a picture book reviewer via my blog. We have a lot of books, spanning floor to ceiling in the main room of our apartment.
These pictures show most of MY picture book collection. My daughters have a small bookcase in our fireplace and one in their part of the bedroom. I have a lot of vintage books and a growing collection of new favorites. They are organized mostly by illustrator, occasionally by author, and a few in collections like Golden Books or super large formats. Our other shelves hold design books, classics, novels, a growing collection of juvenile literature chapter books and other miscellaneous favorites.
I frequently contemplate rearranging my picture books by color (as I once had them several years ago), but as my collection grew, it became quite taxing in my brain to recall what color the spine was.
Rita: Those shelves are only one part of my collection. The other shelves are smaller but each carry different genres.I don't read one particular genre. I am very much the mood reader. I will read anything from anything that has a fast paced plot to character driven stories.
The left shelf is all YA paperbacks organised in alphabetical order. The middle shelf has a mixture of YA/Adult contemporary hardbacks and Fantasy Hardbacks. Each author has their own square shelf. The right hand side is all my adult paperbacks organised in alphabetical order.
Jessi: Hey there! I'm Jessi and I've been hoarding books for over 10 years now. They've undergone a lot of changes through the years but I'm happy to finally have the library of my dreams!
I have a separate section for my signed books (I have over 200 of them), but other than that I arrange by height then by author's last name. I also have a separate section for my Harry Potter books and merch as well as a reading nook in what used to be my closet! My library is my favorite place to be.
Jen: As a book collector, I keep each collection together so I can see which editions I still need and which collections are complete. Because my shelves occupy one side of my living room, I get a lot of questions about why I own multiple copies of my favorite titles.
I care very much about curating beautiful collections because I've come to view my shelves as a piece of art illustrating who I am as a person and which authors have had the most profound effect on my life.
Megan: Hello! My name is Megan and I am the bookworm behind Books and Polka Dots. I have been a reader my entire life and dreamed of having a home library one day... and my dream came true!
This picture features one half of my library and it's organized in a way that I have found to work well for me over the years. I have four main sections: Children's, Classics, Read and Unread. This really helps me to suggest books to friends and also quickly decide on my next read.
For me, books are my version of art and my library is my happy place!
Lauren: Well I usually go for a shelving scheme by color- though in this one it's color organization vertically not horizontally. Then I place all my books of that color together, and I choose which books deserve to be on my visible/ favorite shelves. I put the majority of my favorite books and their respective color together and go from there!
You can really see the height organization in color on my top shelf. Then I basically just chose my favorite reads of the time and placed them front in center in their color area.
My shelving is very spur of the moment and random- kind of however I'm feeling at the present time. There's just something about shelving by color that really satisfies me.
Ryley: I'm a Canadian bookworm and have just finished my second year of university getting a degree in English. I've been reading my whole life but I started seriously collecting books for almost 3 years now. I started out with one small shelf and, as you can see, my collection has expanded to four shelves that take over a whole wall in the living room.
Actually one of the things I looked for when finding a place to live was somewhere with enough room for my shelves! The shelves are organized in alphabetical order by author last name, then publication date within the author, keeping each series together. I have read all the books on these shelves; my to be read collection is overflowing on a shelf in my bedroom.
I've tried rainbow and other organization techniques but I find that this system works best for me in terms of both functionality and aesthetics. In terms of displaying the books, I like to space out my shelves and show off some of the gorgeous cover designs. I like to look at each shelf individually and display the books that I have been obsessing over the covers of.
I also look at the wall as a whole, if there are too many pop outs on one side, how many candles are on each row, that sort of thing because with the size of the shelves, the whole wall becomes it's own statement piece. In general, I like to keep my shelves fairly clear. I'll usually add a couple of candles that coordinate with the book covers that are displayed but I don't go much crazier than that.
Thanks for checking out what I hope will be the first in a series of posts about home libraries and bookshelves. As you can see, in this article, I focused on bookcases as a whole. The wider picture. I hope to explore many different shelving and organizational techniques in the future. So stay tuned bibliohiles!