The Rainbow Bookshelf

Cicero (the old Drama-Queen) once said that “A room without books is like a body without a soul” and although it sounds a little bit dramatic… I’d have to agree with him. Only that I’d probably correct it to “A home without books…” because, honestly, could I call it a “home” if there were no books? I think not…

Personally, I really like to read and I like to own books. I like to collect them and because my collection isn’t exactly tiny (and because I’m a sucker for aesthetic) I have, over the years, tried out many different methods of sorting my books.
The one that has been the most outstandingly well working for me and that I’ve gotten numerous compliments on over the course of a few years is most definitely The Rainbow Shelf.

Different ways to sort your books

So, undoubtedly there are many different ways of sorting a collection of books. Among the most common ones must be to sort them either alphabetically by title or author, by genre, by preference, chronologically or even by size. I have tried out some of these and some of them worked better for me than others.
While the advantage of some of these methods are that new books can be easily sorted into the shelf (because the book’s physique or beginning letters gave them a fixed place), I was never quite satisfied with how it ended up looking. It wasn’t ugly but also not exciting enough and I always ended up having to search the book I wanted amongst all of the others.

The Rainbow Shelf

I am a very visual person. In my home I want everything to look good even when you’re just casually looking around. It has to look very interesting when you decide to look at it closer.

The Rainbow Shelf has given me everything I ever hoped for in a bookshelf-sorting-method. When I first posted photos of my Rainbow Shelf people started asking me “isn’t that impractical?” and no, personally I don’t find it impractical at all. I do get that this sorting method mightn’t be the right one for everybody but maybe one or the other might feel inspired by this now.

The advantages of having a Rainbow Shelf are:

  • New books have their space already; They would look out of place in another location.
  • I find my books very easily
  • It looks great

The disadvantages that I noticed:

  • You really do have to know all the colors by heart. If you don’t you’ll probably get lost looking for a book.
  • Books that belong to a series might end up scattered all over the Rainbow because they are of different colors
  • Your favorite books (depending on the order of the colors that you chose for your Rainbow) might end up outside of eye-/grip-level and disappear in a corner

The disadvantages really were none for me personally, however, if you feel bothered by one of these you should re-evaluate whether it could be the right thing for you. Although I’d definitely recommend at least trying it out if it sounds interesting to you.

How to actually sort your books by color, though?

I’m not going to lie to you… it is a bunch of work. At least depending on how many books you own. When I did it my entire floor was covered in books.

I pre-sorted the books by color into piles and heaps. Then I needed a plan: What order shall the colors have? This is a little bit tricky because there are so many possible orders. Just one little example to show a few possible orders of colour-sorting:

These are just 3 examples for countless orders in which to possibly sort the colors of your books

And remember, there are also darker and lighter tones of each colour… as well as the black, grey and white books you might have!
Therefore I would definitely recommend taking a bunch of colored pencils and finding a color-order that you think is pretty.
I’d probably recommend to start with the black books. From there you can proceed in any order you’d like. Example: Black – Dark Blue – Blue – Light Blue – Light Green – Green – Dark Green – Brown – Beige – Yellow – …….

Another thing to consider is the shape of your bookshelf to determine in which direction your Rainbow can go because it can either be vertical or horizontal. Check out this next illustration to see which fits better for your shelf:

Vertical and Horizontal Rainbows and the Shelf-shapes they best go with

As you can see, the Rainbow becomes much more obvious this way. This is due to the fact that the colors have less space to “spread” in your shelf; They are more condensed and become much more obvious this way. This way it does become a true Rainbow. Feel free to experiment with colors and directions, though!

Examples of my Rainbow Shelf-Do’s

This picture I’ve posted to my Instagram a few days ago

This is my current Rainbow Shelf organization.
At the present time I’ve got a vertical rainbow in the two left-most shelves and all of my Harry Potter (and Game of Thrones) Books and stuff in the two right-most.

The two left-most I wanted for all books that aren’t Harry Potter (and Game of Thrones for a part). As you can see that part of the whole is a bit taller than wide. That’s why I went for the vertical Rainbow there.
Currently, the Rainbow has a bunch of book’s covers face the viewer because I love the look of that. There are no further decorations present at this time.

This is an older version of my Rainbow Bookshelf

Forgive the darker tone on this older version of my shelf. It was one of my autumn-y pictures and the colours don’t come through just as well but I think it’s still visible well enough.

This version is a little bit more complicated but it was also one I loved.
The topmost row of the entire thing is all for black – grey – white books.
The next two rows are aaaalll “Themed Shelves” (meaning one is for Game of Thrones books, one is for witchy books, one for Tolkien Books, etc
The bottom three rows are all for the Rainbow. It doesn’t come through quite as well here but the colours were very beautifully visible in real life.

The order of colours, if you’re interested: dark blue, blue, purple, turquoise, dark green, lighter green, brown, yellow, orange, red, darker red

Also, just to have it complete: In this second version my shelf is heavily decorated with other items. I have many bookish candles (that I added where the color fit rather match candles with their books), Funko Pops, and random items like flowers, potions, pine cones (all matching the rainbow colors)

Back to the current version: Here you can see the colors a bit better. It’s really an eye-catcher, isn’t it? ♡

Would you try this out?

When this shelf was brand new and I sorted the books in for the first time I really kept a clean horizontal rainbow. Months later, I’ve had it in different versions and ended up having it part Rainbow and part Themed Shelves.
There are really endless opportunities for how to keep your Rainbow organized.
I do want to mention that in the present version, the shelf doesn’t hold all of my books. I just keep the books I previously had in Themed Shelves in different shelves now because I obviously need that separation for some topics.
It’s entirely up to you how to do it and you’re totally allowed to redo it as often as you like/if you like.

I hope this post was interesting to you. Maybe it inspired you to have a Book Rainbow as well, or gave you some ideas on how to go about it!
I’d certainly love to know ♡

Rainbow Blessings!
🌿 Natashia Le Fay

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I'm a witch & folklore lover from the Eifel in Germany, constantly on the look for the hidden magic in this world. I love linen clothes, the colour green & books. I share my home with a man, two bunnies, two cats & the fae.

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