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Organizing Your Books

If you love books, you’ll probably enjoy doing this yourself! If you don’t, we can certainly do it for you. There are different ways to organize them, and we should probably start first with the good old Dewey Decimal Classification used by our public libraries, from the Library of Congress on down to your local library.

Now your own personal books aren’t going to have the official Dewey Decimal system numbers on them because those are assigned by libraries based on each book’s subject, but you might want to do a loose version of Dewey, categorizing by subject, and you can begin with reference books. I start with my dictionary, my thesaurus, and books about English grammar and spelling. Yellow pages, if you still have those, could be placed with your reference books, as well as almanacs and Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and Guinness books, travel books. Even cookbooks, books on antiquing, how to plant vegetables and roses, how to build a patio, how to organize and clean your house, and any number of other project books might go in this section. Within all of these subject books, you could alphabetize by author or subject if you like.
After the reference books, you might have a section on religion, where you store your Bible and other biblical research materials, and then your next subject area after that might be humor or comedy, where you can put your Calvin and Hobbs books and your Dave Barry collected essays. You might make a place for language books, science books, recreation, fiction, or biography. YOU decide how you want to divide up your books by subject.

If you love books, you’ll probably enjoy doing this yourself! If you don’t, we can certainly do it for you.

Within each subject area, because there are so many books, libraries sort by numbers but also by alphabetical order. You don’t have to sort by subject at all. You can organize all of your books alphabetically, beginning with last names of A and proceeding to Z with whatever you have in between. Some people actually sort their books by filling each shelf so that the smaller or shorter books are on the left, and as you move down the row they get taller so that when you get to the far right, you have the tallest books. Others put the tall books in the middle and the other books progressively shorter as they march toward the ends of the shelf. In whatever way you choose to categorize your books, you can also add some eye-catching beauty and character to each shelf by displaying some of your other treasures (besides the books). On a shelf you might have – besides decorative bookends — a small ceramic bird or other animal, a vase of flowers, a favorite framed photo, or an antique vase or pitcher.


Phyllis L. Maddox,
Contributing Writer

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