How to organize a home library

In these lockdown weeks, we are doing things we never would have done before. Or things we kept putting off. One of these is to put our books in order, to find our books easily or even just to make some “book shelfies”- the photos of the shelves full of our bookshops – with which to boost our favorite social media.
Here a short guide to the best methods to organize a home library, with pros and cons.

Alphabetical order

It is by far the most used method. The advantages are manifold: ease of use and finding books later – even with huge collections. In fact, if we have hundreds of books arranged on numerous shelves, it becomes almost the only appreciable solution. The disadvantage is mainly one: the unpleasant glance, especially when we have many books of different shapes and different editions.

Find books easily.

Aesthetic rendering not so pleasant.

Color order

If our priority is the aesthetic rendering of our library, this is the method to choose: few solutions will be pleasing to the eye like a sequence of books arranged in colour order, especially if we explore the possibilities of this approach to the maximum extent. Perhaps taking advantage of colour gradations: do not put the greens all together, gradually place them from light green to dark green, and then do the same with the yellows, the reds, etc. A valid alternative – with plenty of space – is to reserve one single colour –and its shades- per shelf. In alternative, you could arrange the books according to the colour of the room and furnishings.
The disadvantage is unfortunately as evident as the advantage: if we do not remember the colour of the rib of our book, we will find it very difficult to find it.

The best possible aesthetic result, with the possibility to indulge oneself for those with a lot of imagination. Certainly, this is the ideal solution if we are Instagram-addicted and a good “shelfie” is our number one priority.

The objective inconvenience in finding the book we are looking for – unless we have a good visual memory).

Topic or category order

If you have broad interests ranging from fiction to niche nonfiction, then you might consider dividing all our books by topic or category. By topic in the case of non-fiction: sciences, social sciences, history, linguistics, travel literature, technology, biographies, manuals, politics and current events etc. List them by category instead, in the case of fiction: thrillers, fantasy, horror, romance novels, travel literature, historians, science fiction, adventure novels, poetry, theatre, etc.
This method allows you to find individual books with a reasonable ease, but how to deal with those authors or those books that do not easily fall under a certain label? It is the case of much great literature, which can hardly be segmented by topic, category or genre..
Undoubtedly, if our passion are books on specific topics or – even better – non-fiction, this can be the system for us. Just think of the joy of the History enthusiast who will be able to elaborate numerous sub-categories: ancient history, medieval history, modern history, contemporary history, WWI, WWII…

It is a practical way to tidy up and find individual books. Particularly useful for non-fiction and topic-dedicated enthusiasts.

Not all authors and books can be traced back to a pre-established label. If in our categories and sub-categories the collections are very numerous, then it is not so convenient.

Publisher or books series

This is the most expensive method for book fetishists: ordering books by publishing house or necklace as in an elegant independent bookstore, lining up all the Adelphi, Einaudi, Mondadori, Minimum Fax (and perhaps under-dividing by series).
A definitely advantageous system for fans of categories, and for fans of necklaces with a very clear identity: some examples are the old Urania, the great writers’ collection Meridiani Mondadori, the Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi grey volumes, the Gialli Mondadori, the splendid new successful series The Passenger by Iperborea, or the small books of the series Il Divanio by Sellerio.
This ordering method is also excellent to make a good impression – with guests at home or with our followers on social networks – and to show off our passions in the most visually satisfying way. If the order by colors gives us immediate visual satisfaction, this system at first intrigues those who see it for the first time and later can contribute to providing a small identikit of our tastes – “Wow! You got all the Maigret detective stories by Adelphi?).

It is the most aesthetically satisfactory system for strong readers.

An author is not always published by the same publishing house. This is especially the case for lesser-known writers who will therefore force us to move from shelf to shelf to find their books.

Reserve a part of the library

A good practice could also be to reserve a part of our library – one or two shelves, or a piece of furniture – for a selection of our books: the ones we want to keep on hand, or the last ones we got.
Questa è una indicazione utile soprattutto per chi ha decine o centinaia di libri in casa: riserviamo This is a useful thing to do, especially for those who have dozens or hundreds of books in the house: a corner for a small group of readings easy to get without having to think too much. Because the big problem of those who have a well-stocked bookshop is always the same: how do I find the book I want? To do this we can get help with a list written on paper, on a spreadsheet. or with a special app apposita ( Book Buddy for Apple or MyLibrary for Android and for Apple, but nothing will ever be as comfortable as reaching out and fishing the book we want.

Target Point, Italian Ideas