The Shelf Life Of Books: Shelving Solutions

“A house without books is like a house without windows.”

For booklovers who live by Horace Mann’s quote, books are bound to be an element of a well-rounded nest. From the comments on this post, it’s evident that many of us are insatiable readers (myself included). But, many of us are dissatisfied (myself included) by the organizational skills we possess for managing the volumes of accumulated books.

For a naturally calming decor, books can emanate the peace we crave for our homes. Yet, sometimes clutter takes over and our books get scattered around the house with no organizational rhyme or reason.

How to Take Care of Books
(This list is adapted from a Martha Stewart article, the queen-bee of cleanliness and organization)

Most books are sturdy and resilient if handled with reasonable care.
Never pull a book from a shelf by its spine.
Don’t pack books tightly onto shelves.
Stacks shouldn’t be too high, and the books in them should be rotated frequently.
Large books are best stored horizontally on shelves to reduce stress on their spines.
Be careful with dust jackets, which add value to books; remove them when reading, and protect those of fragile or valuable books with clear plastic or acid-free glassine covers. (No, no Martha, that’s not eco-friendly. Watch this video to find out how to cover a book with a plain brown paper bag.)

Photo credit: From Chotda’s photostream on Flicker

Next: 6 ideas for bookshelf inspiration and 50 weird and absurd ways to use a book

Ideas for Bookshelf Inspiration

1. These rustic wood and driftwood shelves would look great in a kitchen filled with cookbooks.

2. 27 Shelves from Sunset.

3. I love the statement these color-coded bookshelves make, but you would have to remember what color the book is to locate it.

4. If you have piles of large books, these shelves keep the piles neat.

5. Here are a few great shelving sources.

6. This collection of bookshelves from Freshome, includes an amazing collection of 30 of the best bookshelves. It also includes eco-friendly designs and some outlandish shelving ideas.

On my daily meandering through the design blogs, I’ve noticed the green trend of floating bookshelves being made from old books. The Designsquish blog has a few interesting ones here and here.

Instructables shares step-by-step directions for using an old book as an anchor for a shelf here.

Watch this video and make your own DIY Bookshelf from an old book:

When all else fails and your books are piling up all over your house, just laugh. That’s right, read a book about what to do with all your books. New Yorker contributor, Bruce McCall offers 50 inventive, outlandish, and wickedly entertaining things to do with all those excess books in 50 Things to Do with a Book. From starting a band, building a stairway to paradise, and saving your town from a flood to improving your marriage, the options presented in 50 Things to Do with a Book are brilliant, visionary, ironic, and absurd.

How do you take care of your books? Do you have an organizational system for shelving books? Share all your inspired shelving ideas for books.

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Johne B.
Johne B.7 months ago

Nice answers in replace of the question with real point of view and explaining about that. pushback racking

Val M.
Val M.2 years ago


carole hagen
.5 years ago

Have to have my books!

Anne F.
Anne F.5 years ago

Keep the books you love. Share the books that inspire you. Use the public library often.

Heather B.
Past Member 5 years ago

Great article; thank you, Ronnie. In my house we tend to keep our most beloved, personal books in our bedrooms. All textbooks, general interest, cookbooks and health books are grouped together on bookshelves in whichever room they're most convenient. And we keep at least one dictionary in every room.

Anna Borsey
Anna Borsey5 years ago

Hmmm . . . I don't know what kinds of books the owner(s) of the room in the photo above buy/own/read as the spines of these are ALL in vibrant, neon-like colours.

My own books - and those of my partner, too! - have spines that are mostly in rather drab colours (or non-colours!) such as white; cream; shades of grey; black; beige; brown; different shades of blue (usually navy, or dull nuances of blue - the Pelican paperbacks fit into this category); maroon; darkish red; orange (Penguin paperbacks); drab, dull nuances of green and, finally, "multi". It simply would not be remotely possible for us to achieve the kind of dayglo arrangement on our bookshelves that is pictured above.

Elaine Dixon
Elaine Dixon5 years ago

good ideas there

Ron Bakker
Ron b.5 years ago

A wall full of books is good isolation against cold and noise.

Teresa Mac Tavish


Claudia L.
Claudia L.5 years ago

love the look of my books when tidy on shelves thanks