5 Bookshelf Organizer Archetypes

Posted by Christopher Urie

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Looking at someone's bookshelf is like gazing into the synapses between brain cells. You see something much deeper at work. You get a glimpse into what makes someone tick. The way you arrange your bookshelf is a mysterious art that can reveal the clockwork cogs spinning around in your soul.

Now, there are many different ways to arrange your beloved volumes of literature and knowledge. Each one reveals a secret about yourself. What that secret is can be up for debate, but here are a few archetypes of the bookshelf organizer club. Which one are you?


The Bookshelf: From left to right and top to bottom, your books are in one of the most simple forms of organization. They might be ordered using the title, the author, or genre, but they will be in perfect alphabetical order even if it means delving down into the fourth and fifth letters to achieve your organizational perfection. Once this is done, you're left with an amalgamation of spine colors, sizes, genres, and styles that have seemingly no organization whatsoever. But it is there if you look a little bit closer.

The Person: This is not the only place in your house that is kept this well organized. Over in the kitchen, your spice rack is ordered based on frequency of use. The bathroom has your initial embroidered towels ordered based on the oversized middle initial.


The Bookshelf: There is art to the way your books are arranged. You don't care for the contents, genre, or author of each volume. All that matters is how they compliment your exquisitely designed modern sitting room. They may be ordered like a graphic equalizer on a stereo with alternating vertical piles, or maybe the alternating hills going down your shelves that a miniature paper skier would enjoy. You care a little more about what color and size the spines of each book are rather than what is held within their pages. You may be likely to be a person who buys dozens of blank books to fill your shelves based solely how beautiful their gold leafed spines look.

The Person: Visual beauty is a constant pursuit in your daily life. Your walls are festooned with paintings, photographs, and mirrors. The space under your television is bursting with a collection of films. Over in the corner you might have a glass case where you keep your collection of cameras. You love anything that allows you to capture and keep any sort of fleeting visual beauty.


The Bookshelf: Less of an organizational pursuit and more of a reflection on your book buying habits, your bookshelf reflects everything you've bought in the order you've bought it in. Layers and themes start to become evident within your past. The phases you went through as a reader become evident. Once section represents last summer, filled with pulp adventure paperbacks. That winter you can see you spent it curled up with slim volumes of poetry.

The following Spring was a resurgence of classic literature. If this is you, have a look at your shelf and remember your past through your pages. Maybe theres a grouping of strange new books form when you moved in with someone. Each Historian's shelves are different and completely dependent on the person. They reflect the many levels of that person's life.

The Person: You're more than likely and avid reader, but of a much more disorganized nature than others. You don't really care what order your books appear on the shelf, but you know exactly where each one is. You have more important things to do than make sure your shelves are in order. You're probably busy writing or taking photos, cooking a gourmet dinner. You might think your shelves are disheveled, but you may fail to realize that they have ordered themselves over the years based completely on your life.


The Bookshelf: The shelves of the Mad Mixture seem to have no discernible overall organization, but it is there. These shelves tend to be grouped together by author or genre. The groupings have no organization, but the chaos is built up of little bubbles of order.

The Person: You have a fanatical love for however your order your groupings. You might be a geek with a desperate love of all sorts of science fiction, fantasy, and noir. Maybe you prefer authors over genre and lovingly make sure that all their books stick together as they whether the outer chaos of the rest of your shelves.


The Bookshelf: Your shelves are organized via the Dewey Decimal system. Or maybe by the original publishing copywriter or the first printing date. Maybe you've decided to rearrange your volumes based off of which bits of music are referenced in the first 100 pages. Either way, to the outsider, your shelf has no organization whatsoever, but in your own little head, the perfect harmony lies reverberating within your shelves.

The Person: You reorganize your record collection in even more anal retentive ways whenever you have a rough breakup. You need a friend or a pet.