What's Your Book Shelfie Style?

07/24/2014 09:54 am ET
Wikstrom, Jeppe via Getty Images

Kids today, right? If we’re not taking selfies, we’re taking relfies, or ussies. Most importantly of all, however, we’re taking shelfies -- particularly, if you’re anything like us, book shelfies.

The book shelfie is, at its most basic, a photo of your bookshelf (often along with yourself). Maybe it’s artfully arranged so the spines create a mosaic of Harry Styles’ face. Maybe your cat is pawing at the books, adorably. Maybe you just got a full set of the Penguin clothbound classics (lucky you!) and you’re showing them off. There are myriad variations within the fairly strict constraints of the book shelfie.

But what if you’re about to take a shelfie and you realize that your shelf is a complete mess? Fear not. Shelfies are a great excuse to go through your bookshelf, wax nostalgic over your old favorites, and find a dynamite organizational principle for your collection. To start you off, here are 6 straightforward, beginner-level ways to organize your bookshelf for the camera:

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We’re diving right in with a really finicky one: chronological order! You can start with the earliest or most recently published book; just find the original publication date of each and place them in order. Pro: It’s like a little history of literature on your shelf! Con: Do you actually care what order your books were published in, on a day-to-day basis? Probably not.

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This is High Fidelity-level stuff, so brace yourself. What we’re doing here is taking every book on the shelf and ranking it by how important it is to you. Favorite books and those given to you by that ex you’re still pining for near the top, old textbooks and books you couldn’t be bothered finishing go near the bottom. (In this instance, TBR books are also at the bottom, because there’s simply no way of knowing yet.)
Pro: You can easily find the books you want to reread most, right there at the top.
Con: This is unlikely to look that appealing in a photo -- and some of us finding ranking our books to be agonizing.

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If you’ve ever worked at a bookstore, or spent a lot of time combing through bookstore shelves, this will come naturally. Sort alphabetically by the author’s last name, then sort each author’s books alphabetically by the first letter in the title (disregarding “A” and “The”). Simple, clear, practical.
Pro: You will always be able to find the book you want, even if you’ve forgotten where it ranks in your “favorites” pile.
Con: Again, not the most aesthetically appealing from afar.

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Now we’re getting visual. Start with the shortest or tallest book in your stacks, then move gradually taller or shorter (respectively).
Pro: Creates a more clean line on your bookshelf.
Con: Unless your books are wildly different sizes, this won’t look particularly dramatic -- and you definitely will never know how to find anything.

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Who says the books have to be in a row? Why not throw in a stack of hardcovers you want to highlight on each shelf, or even alternate stacks with rows for a checkered look? The possibilities are… well, not infinite, but worth exploring nonetheless.
Pro: A bit different from the average bookshelf.
Con: Stacks aren’t the norm for a reason -- it’s harder to take your favorite book off the shelf when it’s at the bottom of a pile.

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A perennial favorite for aesthetes and shelfie-ers, the rainbow collection is always worth a try. To make it a traditional gradient, use the classic ROYGBIV arrangement (you can move into whites, grays, blacks, and browns after violet or start with them before red), though funky color-blocking could make for a more unusual and bold look.
Pro: So pretty!
Con: Is there a con to this one?

Obviously, there are a million fun ways you can organize your bookshelves -- we’re barely even scraping the surface here. The important thing is to empty your bookshelves, dust them off, and spend some quality time with your books. Try a few different arrangements. And once you’ve taken a trip down memory lane with your book collection, find your own Dewey Decimal substitute (not that there's anything wrong with using the Dewey Decimal System!) to give your shelves a personal touch.

And for the book shelfie? We really recommend including a cat. Just a suggestion.

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