Why I Organize My Books By Color

This is going to sound very strange, but organizing my books by color actually makes them much easier for me to find. Lies! I know, I know, it sounds insane. But it’s true.

Almost every time I read an article or blog post about organizing bookshelves, the color-coding method is mentioned and subsequently called “beautiful, but impractical.” I get it. Because for most people, it totally is. But for me, it works. This is, I think, primarily due to the fact that I have a somewhat photographic memory. When I think about a book, the three things that immediately come to mind are title, author, and color. And not always in that order. Sometimes, I think of a book, and before I can remember the title, I recall that it is yellow with red lettering. Or maybe it was that book with a blue cover and black spine with gold lettering. I can almost always, instantly, tell you what color a book is without looking at my shelf. It is, oddly, faster for me to find books that way. I know I Am Malala has a yellow spine (even though it has a blue and pink cover), my vintage copy of Withering Heights is green, and The Book Thief is tan. It’s something that is burned into my brain just as much as their titles are.  I used to have shelves organized by genre, and honestly it was more difficult to find things. Often, I only found things quickly because I remembered where I last saw them on my shelves rather than where they should be.

IMG_0542.jpg
My bookshelf about a year ago – before I discovered Book Outlet (I would show you a current picture, but it’s actually a giant mess in desperate need of reorganizing). 

I know what you’re going to say: but what about series?! A common concern when organizing books this way. Simple answer: I don’t separate those by color. For the most part, my series are pretty homogenous visually (just don’t get me started on The Diviners). With the exceptions, series like A Song of Ice and Fire, I do one of two things. Either I keep them together in the back of my shelf (I have an Ikea Kallax that holds two rows of books and saves me a ton of space). I will put them on a shelf that doesn’t have a lot of books to fill it out (like the yellow one) or put them on the shelf that best corresponds to the majority color or the color I associate with that particular series (I didn’t say it was an uncomplicated system). I can tell you, without having to look, that The Gemma Doyle trilogy is brown, blue, and green (in that order) and that they reside behind the stack of green books on my shelf. Favorite series like A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter get a nice home at the top of my bookshelf, away from all the other books, where they are allowed to be their beautiful, rainbow selves.

Now, I have absolutely nothing against people who organize their books in other, much more practical ways. Like alphabetically. Or by genre. Because, for the most part, that makes more sense. But I wanted to show that color coding your books actually can have a purpose other than aesthetics. Because, for me, it does. I’m just one of the lucky ones for which rainbow shelves are actually a good system. I get to have my beautiful shelves and read them, too.

How do you organize your books?

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8 thoughts on “Why I Organize My Books By Color

  1. Colour coordination is so pretty, sadly I have an absolute tiny room so my book organisation is wherever they will fit. I have dreams to have a library like the beast on Beauty and the beast haha!
    I have a small black bookcase then a drawer underneath my bed, studying english literature doesn’t make it much easier because I have to have a shelf dedicated to the books I have to grab to throw in for my lectures that day.

    Therefore my organisation is organised mess?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My shelves don’t really have an order to them, apart from books by the same author stay together. I quite like not having any order to them! I get what you mean about remember the colour of the spines though. Plus colour coordinated shelves ARE really pretty, despite having other uses haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mine is also organized by colour, for now. Kinda for the same reasons as you mentioned, I almost always remember what colour the spine is. That being said if I organise them another way and I look at my shelves a couple of times, I can remember which books I put where 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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