The Crimson Five series

Creating a Bookshelf that’s YOU

Books are never one size fits all. Even the most globally popular books don’t appeal to every reader. We like what we like, and just because everyone else is obsessed with a story, doesn’t mean we will be also. Likewise, just because we can’t stop raving about a book to every person who will listen, that doesn’t mean they will even read the first page. Because it’s true. We like what we like.

So, why should our bookshelf set-up be any different?

This weekend, I reorganized the shelves in my office. I can’t concentrate or create in a chaotic space and I could tell that my bookshelves were getting too overrun with books. Yes, I said it. My bookshelves were too packed with books. That may be an unpopular opinion because I know most bookish people think there’s no such thing as too many books. And I pretty much agree. But that doesn’t mean they all need to be displayed all the time. I think bookshelves should be pretty and functional—and reflect personal style.

I didn’t always have a massive set of bookshelves. In fact, for years I dreamed of having even one shelf allocated for books. But our house was small and well, I just didn’t. I was forced to be creative with where I displayed them; my bedside table, end tables, and dressers became their permanent home. That changed, though, when we moved into a new house a few years ago. Not only did I get a wall of bookshelves but I got a whole office. It definitely was a pinch me moment. Having a place to display my own books and my favorites, was and still is, a literal dream come true. But it also posed a design challenge. I had 16 sections to fill up. How do I do that? Because as much as I love books, I’ve always hated the idea of cramming a million books onto a few shelves. Again, unpopular opinion, I know! 

Styling Bookshelves

I love scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest to see how people style their bookshelves. It’s so fascinating to see the different ways. So, for those of you who are interested in that kind of thing, I thought I’d share how I style mine and why.

I knew right away that top billing was going to the three original framed illustrations from Spin the Golden Light Bulb, my debut middle grade book. They were a gift from my husband and signed by my illustrator. How amazing is that? As luck would have it, they fit perfectly in the top three tallest sections. I also knew that I wanted one of the focal points to be my antique Underwood typewriter. It belonged to my neighbor who at one time worked in fashion advertising. I love the history of it and it’s a great conversation piece!

Next, I considered whether I would organize the books alphabetically or by color, genre, or author. But I quickly realized that none of the above would work for me. Instead, I wanted to organize them by status. Meaning, I wanted to give my favorites a prominent spot. I started with my own books: I knew I wanted them front and center. I mean, I had worked on them for a total of ten years. I wasn’t going to hide them amongst the masses! So, I filled the center section right above the typewriter with my three hardcovers and flanked them with the paperback versions of books one and two. Would you believe I gasped when I first saw them displayed like that? Because yeah, I audibly gasped! I still sometimes can’t believe I really wrote them!

Then I gathered up my favorite books and realized that almost all were book series. Rather than stacking them in a traditional way, I decided to showcase them each in their own cluster. CARAVEL, THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, and TWILIGHT, my favorite YA series, immediately anchored the side bookshelf columns. I added in two towers from the royal SELECTION series, plus a few others, and suddenly I had a sparkling YA row. To this day, I still love looking at them sitting like Queens on their thrones! 

When I first set up my middle grade books, they filled up several sections. I had so many, it took me months to display them in a way that felt right. But honestly, they always felt chaotic. It wasn’t until yesterday that I finally gave myself permission to take some out and donate them. Others, I put in our guest room. These are the books that I like enough to keep for grandchildren one day (or lend out) but not enough that I need to look at them every day. 

That left me with space to showcase signed books written by my author friends, a few of my trusted writing books, and even some hardcover beauties like HRH so many thoughts on royal fashion and Glimpses of Charleston…a nod to a recent girls trip with my daughter. I know that I’ll make changes again at some point. For example, my collection of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES is growing. I’m currently reading book four (of nine!) and that series will most definitely receive a prominent spot when I finish. It’s that good!

What About Storage and Decor?

I have a file cabinet in my office but very few drawers. These blue canvas bins and white file holders are lifesavers for keeping office supplies, mail, and writing notebooks contained—and give the bookshelves a pop of additional color. I added framed photos, textured artwork, candles, and greenery to cozy up the whole thing too. Because bookshelves should be filled with things you love and like I said, they should be pretty and functional, but also reveal your personal style. That’s what I’ve tried to do with mine.

I hope this inspires you to create a spot for your books that makes you happy—even if it looks nothing like mine. Even if it’s on top of a dresser, or on a shelf at the top of your closet. It doesn’t take a lot of space to showcase your favorite books.

What are your thoughts? How do you display your books?  Are you team I need to display all the books or team I like displaying my favorites

Thanks for reading today. I hope you have a fantastic week!