Too many books, too little shelf space

Emily Morrow  //  May 19, 2017

Too many books, too little shelf space

In my five years as a New Yorker, I've lived in four different apartments and three different boroughs, but one thing has remained constant: My books have always been the centerpiece of my home.

My most recent move was to Queens (that's borough #3, for those counting) with my fiance. After all the back-and-forth about apartments and movers and how exactly to pack up a kitchen, the most heated debate centered around our books and how we would combine and organize them. I have always organized my bookshelves by genre, while he is a staunch alphabetizer. We also quickly realized that even though we now had three bookcases, we didn't have nearly enough shelf space for our combined collection, so we had to get creative, putting small stacks of books all around our new, shared space.

This year, for my birthday, he surprised me with two new bookcases! I was over the moon! Not only did that mean we finally had enough space to display all of our books on shelves, but it also meant we had room to compromise with our organizational methods: I now have an entire shelf dedicated to our TBR piles that is organized by genre. 

This got me thinking: How do the rest of our book-loving bloggers organize their books?

Mike and Lori say they both organize their shelves by color! Mike gets decorating bonus points, because he has "floating bookshelves" as wall decorations. "I feel like I live in Hogwarts!" he says. "It's magical!" 

Morgan's family uses a few different organizational tactics — some are by genre, and some are random:

My favorite bookshelves are in my office and they’re grouped by genre — it’s my collection of vintage titles and books from my childhood. And my husband has a 'brag bookshelf' — all the books he’s published (including foreign editions) in the order they were published.

I was also curious about how many bookcases each of our bloggers has. 

We know from our Kids and Family Reading Report data that having books in the home is crucial for children to develop a love of reading, and the average US home with children has 104 books. Fortunately, we practice what we preach because the two moms in the group, Morgan and Julia, get the prize for most bookshelves. Morgan says: 

Let’s put it this way…we essentially left apartment living in the city because we were out of space for our books. So we have LOTS of bookshelves in our house. Eight in our living room alone! Then more in the office, more in the attic (my office), and our kids have one large one in each of their rooms.

Julia also has a lucky daughter (whom you've probably read about recently on OOM), who has her own bookcases. She writes:

We have seven bookcases— two for our daughter and five for us. That’s sort of startling considering I generally don’t even like to keep books except my very favorites.

Finally, because sometimes you just don't have room for a bookshelf in a New York apartment, I wanted to see where else our team stores books when they can't fit on a shelf!

Many of us have used books as some sort of table: Morgan once used a tall tower of books as her nightstand, and Mike actually built a coffee table using coffee table books, wood, and rope.

Lori stores her extra books in her closet, Stephanie makes sure to keep a stack handy on her coffee table, and Brittany tries to save space by reading ebooks on her phone or tablet!

Maybe one day we'll all have Belle-on-a-rolling-ladder-level bookshelves, but until then, I'm happy to know I can count on my fellow book lovers for inspiration on organizing my home library!

Photo: Flickr