When I moved to a new house, the movers told me they had never seen anyone with so many boxes of books.

So be it. I am a writer, and writers are readers. And I love books. The question was how to organize them so that my house didn’t look like the reading room at the Oxford University Library—which is beautiful, by the way. I just didn’t want to live in a library, but I did want easy access to my books. And I wanted them to look good too. Here are a few ideas.

Purge what you don’t need. Books with torn covers, pages filled with yellow highlighter from your college days, and those representing interests you no longer have can be donated or recycled.

Decide what kind of bookshelves you want. How do you want your bookshelves to look? Do you want built-in shelves across an entire wall? Recessed bookcases? Antique or vintage bookshelves?

Think about where you want your books to live. Do you want them all in one room? Separated and scattered in different rooms throughout the house? I decided on the latter and put some bookshelves in the living room. I have a recessed built-in bookcase in my office. My cookbooks are in the dining room. And my gardening and craft books are in

the solarium, near the door to the backyard.

Figure out how to group your books. I created sections by genre—medieval history, American history, European history, biography, art, reference, fiction classics, modern fiction, etc., for easy access. No Dewey Decimal System here, just an organizing principle.

Lighting and comfy seating. Decide whether you prefer overhead lighting, recessed lighting, or lamps. Create a cozy nook or a room with great seating—oversize chairs, a comfy couch, an ottoman—where you can curl up with a book. And select a small table on either side on which to set your lamps, along with a cup of coffee or tea.

Follow Rona Berg on Instagram @ronaberg.


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Rona Berg is the former editorial director of Elle, deputy lifestyle editor and beauty columnist for the New York Times Magazine and best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes. Berg has been cited as an industry expert by New York magazine, Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post, and was awarded the American Spa 2020 Women in Wellness Environmental Leader Award. You can follow her on Instagram @Rona Berg.