Organizing Your Bookshelves: Version 2.0

Shelving your books alphabetically by the author’s last name is so 2010. Here are some new ideas for how to arrange your books and keep your shelf life fresh.


Protagonist: Why should the author always get all the credit? Main characters are the ones who do all the heavy lifting — they have to fight dragons, escape jail, hunt serial killers. They should get props, too. The best part of this system is that if you have Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, you can actually shelve it under ‘Protagonist’. Books with nameless characters, like The Gone-Away World, Rebecca and Then We Came to the End  may feel left out — best to give them their own shelf so the other books don’t pick on them.

Genre: Okay, not that original, but you can pick your own exciting genres. No more Horror, Science Fiction or Romance — change it up a bit, and create your own. Books with Talking Cats, Ones Where the Main Character Dies, Books Featuring Precocious Children, Meerkat Torture Porn. The possibilities are endless.

Author’s Cause of Death: Morbid, admittedly, but you’ll learn a lot about the authors, and how they passed on. Then you can make a shelf of books by living authors, arranged by who you think will kick the oxygen habit next.

Book Dedication: Granted, the majority of shelf space will be taken up by books dedicated to parents, but there are still plenty of other people who have books dedicated to them. You could wind up with ‘For Arthur’ from Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask all the way down to ‘Zelda’ in…well, I’m not up on my Fitzgerald, but he must have dedicated at least one book to that crazy bitch.

Spine Color: This looks super-pretty: Make a rainbow! Make the Italian flag! Match them to your outfit! “That copy of Edinburgh really brings out the blue in your eyes.”

Number of Twitter Followers: And the winner is…Neil Gaiman! Let’s face it – status these days is proven by the number of people you have reading your tweets, not your books. Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer last year, but Chuck Palhniuk has 376,000 more followers. And before you rule out dead authors, look them up on Twitter. Several authors manage to tweet from beyond the grave — Kurt Vonnegut has almost 100,000 people following him.

Authors You’d Most Like to Sleep With: This will also help you choose what to wear to readings. Arthur Phillips? Metal bikini. Sean Ferrell? Snowsuit. You can do sub-categories, like put the Philip Roth books under ‘hate sex’. You’ll need separate shelves for dead authors, unless you’re into that kind of thing. That’s okay, too – we’re not here to judge.

Up in the Air: This only works for extremely short periods of time. And may cause concussions.