It’s in the Blue Section (Or, How I Organize My Books by Color)


hen I was a child, my family owned hundreds of movies. Hundreds. I exaggerate not.

And in my nascent organizational neurosis, I took it upon my 8-year-old self to catalog them–first by genre, then alphabetically. Numbered stickers were adhered to row after row of VHS tapes and a master list was drawn up.

Looking for Abbott and Costello? How about The Hunt for Red October? (Our collection was heavy on 20s comedy and Tom Clancy). Just ask me. I found great satisfaction in locating your film of choice within seconds.

Over the years, my penchant for organizing never left.  But somewhere around ’09 it took a more aesthetic turn:

I started arranging my heaps of books by color.

I probably saw the idea in a magazine and in an attempt to make the most of our limited apartment decorating budget, I began stacking our tomes in order of hue; first navy, then royal blue, then sky blue, etc.

(See? Neurosis, full-blown).

After the handmade moss ball/topiary that sits on our kitchen table, this is the feature of my home that gets the most attention. While the practice is not original, apparently it isn’t that common.

Now lest you think it’s completely impractical, for the visually-oriented, it works perfectly.

Because I generally remember the cover of a book, when Hubs is searching for another one of his bleak-looking economics books, I can quickly say, “Oh yes, America’s Great Depression? In the gray-ish section.”  (Apropos, no?)

Is Jane Erye in the classics section? No, she’s hanging out next to Anne Lamott. But they’re both red, so it makes sense. Right?

(I have seen this option for arranging books as well–which is lovely but, with the covers hiding, would drive me nuts).

Some might be confused by the juxtaposition of a duration of wonderful children's books (Read for the Heart) and a CIA agent's memoir.  Me, I'm just bothered by the fact that I'm lacking a darker brown book to transition more gently to the black section.
Some might be confused by the juxtaposition of a curation of wonderful children’s books (Read for the Heart) and a CIA agent’s memoir. Me, I’m just bothered by the fact that I’m lacking a darker brown book to transition more gently to the black section.

Anyway. It works for us (me) and adds some visual interest to our numerous books shelves.

If you’re up for a little order-by-color on your own shelves, I highly recommend removing the book jackets. The spines are prettier naked.

What’s your favorite bookshelf-arranging practice?

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • I’m a crafty gal so I can relate about organizing by color. Now if I can just find a way to organized kids books, they’re all different colors and sizes.

    • I hear you! Right now, my method of organizing kids’ books is just to keep everything but the board books out of the baby’s reach :).