Bookish Thoughts: In Defense of Rainbow Organization

In Defense of Rainbow Organization

In Defense of Rainbow Organization

Every once in a while a post in the blogosphere will pop up regarding bookshelf organization. And, unfortunately, each of these posts are often accompanied with a wave of dismissal at the thought of arranging their bookshelves by color.

It hurts my poor little rainbow heart, readers. It hurts.

So today, I thought I’d share my defense of rainbow bookshelf organization. I’m not quite sure if this is an attempt to convert others to my colorful ways or prove to others that I’m not some kind of crazy weirdo for doing such a thing, but either way I hope you enjoy and would love to know your thoughts at the end of this post.

Rainbows Are Pretty

Let’s start with the most obvious reason why ROY G BIV organization is the best: it’s pretty!

My bedroom is fairly monochromatic – my walls are creme (except the black chalkboard wall), my bedding is grey and white, my furniture is black or dark brown. There’s really not a whole lot of color going on.

My bookcases provide that pop of color. It catches a person’s eyes as soon as they enter my room. It’s the centerpiece. And that’s exactly how it should be.

C’mon just look at it…

My Bookshelves

My rainbow-organized bookshelves

It’s Straightforward

I think if I were to visit bookcases by other bloggers, I would be a bit confused. They have bookshelves for ARCs, favorites, non-fiction, fiction, TBRs, signed books, etc. I’m a little overwhelmed just thinking about it!

When you choose one simple way to organize a bookshelf, such as by color, it makes things so much easier. If you need to add a new book to a collection, you just have to shift books over one when color organized. But if you needed to add a book to a certain specified shelf where you have no more room… what do you do? How do you keep track of all the shelves? My simple mind cannot handle it!

Books Aren’t IMPOSSIBLE to Find

One of the biggest arguments I think people have against color-coordinating their shelves is their fear that they’ll never be able to find a certain book again. For me, this is not a problem.

I’m not an overly visual person, but I almost always can remember what the covers look like for the books I have read. If I want to pick up Eragon, I know to look in the blue section because it has a blue cover (third row down, fourth book to the right ;)). Sure, you may remember the cover more than the spine, but they usually share the same coloring so it shouldn’t impact your ability to find the books too much. (Plus, if you’re like me and stare lovingly at your bookcase everyday, you’ll grow to know the spines as well.)

But really, let’s be honest, how often do you go to your bookshelves in hunt for a certain book? Maybe it’s just me, but I rarely feel the need to do this (unless maybe I want to take a picture of a certain book for Instagram?).

Your Series Don’t Have to Match!

I think the best perk, especially for someone like me who has mix-matched series (hardback, paperback, UK editions, US), is that no one can tell your series don’t match! Unless the series all has the same color spines and you decide to put them together (like my Twilight books on the bottom), your series books are separated from one another. Unless someone purposely hunts them all down within your shelf, they’re not going to be like “Oh my gosh, they don’t match!” So take that, you mix-matched haters!

It’s a Talking Point

Beautiful bookcases are a talking point no matter what, but when they’re color organized they take center stage. People can’t stop looking at them, they marvel that your collection is so colorful, they want to reach out and swap a couple of books that they think aren’t exactly color ordered as well as they could be. Anytime we can get people talking about books, I consider that a success.

Alright, that’s enough. Anyone agree with me that color-organized bookshelves are the best? Any other arguments against color organization you want to argue about? ;)


Read 29 comments

  1. I had no idea people were really against this idea! I try to keep my books in alphabetical order by author last time, in reasonable subdivisions. So I have a YA shelf, a MG shelf, an adult shelf, etc. I guess it’s basically like a library. :p But I agree that finding books would not be a problem, no matter what I did with my shelves. Sure OTHER people probably would be confused if they weren’t in alphabetical order, but I always know where my own books are, even if they’re in random stacks on the floor. ;)

  2. Even though I organize my main bookshelf by colour, I still hate mismatched series. Hahaha. In any case, you know I pretty much agree with every single point you’ve made ;) This system is so much more forgiving, since like you said, adding a book of particular colour simply means shifting the books a little to make space. There’s no grand reorganization necessary just for that one new book. Plus, this means books can be shelved continuously without leaving any gaps. I dislike gaps between books, so that too speaks for colours.

    Some people seem to think that organizing by colour is very time consuming because you have to upkeep the rainbow arrangement. I think when people raise that argument, they forget that all organization-methods require time. The only method that requires no time-investment is a non-organized shelf, where a book simply gets shoved wherever there happens to be space at that moment. Lol.

  3. Well,I’ve never tried it before.Truth to be told I’ve never tried any type of book organizing methods,because I don’t have enough space in my room and shelves to accommodate all my books.But I am planning a room makeover next month,and I am going to buy a new bookshelf,so maybe then I should try colour coordinating my books.It looks beautiful!

  4. Oh, wow, I had no idea people in the blogosphere were against colour-coding books! I had mine arranged like that for awhile and I quite liked them, but because I’m a slightly compulsive shelf-reorganiser, they didn’t stay that way for very long, haha. And for the record, Asti, I think your shelves are gorgeous. ;)

  5. I had mine like that for a while too! It is a joy to look at. Eventually I switched it up though because a different system appealed to me, but I always like to look at shelves like these. I have seen them in more than a few homes too. So high fives for you!

  6. I organised my books by colour after we moved house last year, as it was something I’d always wanted to do. Everyone who comes into the house comments on how amazing it looks, as I basically have a whole wall of colour coded books so it does dominate my living room. When I blogged about it, a lot of people commented that they loved the way the shelves look, but they couldn’t do it themselves as they need their books to be ‘organised’. Before this I had no order system, but I knew where every book was and this is still pretty much the same. Sure it’s not for everyone, but it is dramatic and a great way to brighten up a room!

  7. When I had a tiny bookshelf in an old apartment, I totally organized my books by color, for a lot of the same reasons. My room didn’t have many pops of color, and the bookshelf added one. Now, though, I’m living at home & have a large shelf, & I don’t think I’d be able to do with organizing my books by color, personally. Part of that is because certain shelves on my case are double stacked–so I’m not sure how I’d be able to organize *those*. I often do go to my bookshelf looking for a specific book & hate splitting up series, so that would be an issue for me. I’m not vehemently opposed to organizing by color, though! It doesn’t work for the shelf I have now, but it was eye-catching when I did it with my smaller shelf.

  8. I love the idea of organizing by color and am definitely considering it! I’m redoing some bookshelves this week now that I bought a few more and have been struggling to organize. I think I’ll be doing some shelving by color in certain places, but I do plan to keep my series together!

  9. I love looking at rainbow coloured shelves! But the tiny, tiny librarian in me does not allow me to do that and I need to have my series together and preferably in alphabetical order according author’s last name. But that was when I had a lot of books, now that I’m left with a couple of authors’ books — I just sort by series. Plus when the amount of books dwindle, the rainbow also sort of… disappear? :S

  10. I always loved the look of colour-coded shelves, but there was always that little voice in my head nagging at me that I should keep series together! Only you’re right, and not all of my series match up beautifully, which just makes it look bad and makes me look annoyed! I’ve recently started cleaning up and clearing up, and ended up reorganising my entire bookshelf… by colour! Looks pretty cool :D

  11. I actually want to organize mine like this when I get bigger shelves! I only have two smaller ones at the moment, and my windowsill, so you can imagine how crazy it is for me to try to “organize” anything at all. Love that you wrote an entire post in defense of this style – and you’ve given such AWESOME reasons too!

  12. I don’t think there’s a right way to shelf your books – it’s all about personal preference. I think your shelves look pretty! I wouldn’t mind my books being organised by colour, but I’m lazy so probably won’t – maybe one day- and also I don’t know if I like the idea of separating series books.

    I have thought about organising them by who they were published by, but again, I’m lazy and never find the time.

  13. Rainbow shelves always look so pretty but there are a few reasons why I don’t do it a) my shelves aren’t big enough. I have a shelf that is 6 squares and it’s TINY. I can fit about 50/210 books on it and then a bigger single wall shelf that fits the rest double stacked. b) I don’t have enough books of different colours. Most of my books are black. I just feel like it wouldn’t work well. c) I love the way my series look together too much for them to be separated. I couldn’t bare for The Hunger Games to be far away from Catching Fire. They NEED each other.

  14. I do really love looking at rainbow bookshelves. They can be gorgeous, and from the way you described your room they would look awesome! But I don’t think I can ever bring myself to make it a permanent change. I don’t want my series to be separated from one another! I don’t care if the covers are different THEY NEED TO BE NEXT TO EACH OTHER.

    I used to organise my bookshelves by author last name. That worked well until I ran out of space and had to start organising by size to fit them all in, and now it’s just turned into a mixture of genre and whatever fits.

  15. This is a great post! I’ve never been able to bring myself to arrange my shelves by color simply because my brain doesn’t think that way. I think it’s an absolutely gorgeous way to do it, but I just don’t process info that way (it’s why I use spreadsheets for everything).

    Then again, I’ve never really tried it. Since I’m in the process of moving and the books will all have to be rearranged anyway, I may give it a go this time! :)

  16. As pretty as color-coordinated shelves are, I tend to stick books wherever I can find room! If there’s one I want to read, I’ll grab it and stick another in its place so my shelves (at home) aren’t organized in the slightest, but it works for me. You know how, when a desk looks like a disaster but you know where everything is? That’s how my shelves are! If I want to read Harry Potter, I’ll know exactly which shelf to head to. (Oddly enough, HP and my Dear America books are the ONLY series shelved together)

    AT WORK, however, that’s a different story. I’m a bookseller, so I spend all day organizing books – way down to the nitpicky details. Lol I suppose my shelves at home are my way of rebelling? I do so much sorting at work, when I get home I’m happy to let my books land wherever they please.

  17. I think it looks BEAUTIFUL and you are right about all the reasons, but I could never ever organize my bookshelves like that. I really need to have my series together and I prefer to have the books from the same author together as well. My eyes get all twitchy when they are separate from each other (like now, with my lack of space) I don’t care that series don’t match, so that’s no problem :D My shelves are based on: stack-everything-everywhere-as-long-as-it-fits and some shelves with all my favorite books :)

  18. You know, this totally makes sense, because I am a very color coordinated person. At work, colored tabs, at home, colored labels, and even the blog has assigned colors when we have group discussions. It is just far easier on my eyes, and it helps tackle that OCD that tries to surface when I see a huge glob of colors all over the bookcase.

  19. Your rainbow bookshelves are beautiful, Asti! It’s pretty much a work of art, so I definitely understand why this is an appealing option. It also makes me realize how many books out there have black covers. It takes two rows-holy moley!

    I definitely do not have any arguments against color-organizing shelves, but I don’t think I would have the patience…to maintain it. I’m kind of a sloppy person, and after a few months, my rainbow wouldn’t be a rainbow anymore.

  20. I think the rainbow organisation always looks sooo good, but separating series is what always puts me off xD I think I may give it a go though, because like you said, it does add a splash of colour and interest to the room!

  21. On the one hand, I have a shelf of my favorite books arranged in rainbow order, because it’s pretty and because those books are out there on display. But I could never commit to fully rainbow-ordering a shelf — I couldn’t stand having all my Jane Austen books in separate places, or the same works in a series all scattered everywhere!

  22. I wish I could find the perfect system! I keep mine buy authors name. I have shelves for YA books, others for adult books and then others for ARCs. As you said, the problem is that when I run out of space I have to shift them ALL. Even if I leave space in each shelf, it fills up too fast… it’s aggravating :(

  23. I knew that people weren’t the biggest fan of rainbow organisation, but I never knew how far it went. I am someone who used to just have books starting from the top and going to the bottom – nothing more to it. I knew where everything was but one night a month ago I wanted colours. Now it isn’t quite rainbow, but all the black books have a shelf, all the blue ones, all the white and brown and then the orange and red and green books together (box set space at the last shelf) and I love it! Love yours <3

    • Oooh, welcome to the colorful side ;) I’m sure your bookshelves look just as lovely as mine, even if they’re just bunched in colors and not in rainbow progression. I think the hardest thing about rainbow organization is the fact that some colors might not have a lot of love based on whatever books you buy. Luckily mine are fairly diverse, though I do own more black covers than anything else!

  24. I think this is a great idea when people have such a large collection like you. On decorating shows they’ve shown the benefits of doing this in small spaces, or even keeping just a couple colors of books in each room.

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