Why Rainbow Shelves Don’t Work For Me

A few months ago, I decided on a whim to reorganize my books by the color of their spines. I was lured in to the look by social media, and since I was running out of space on my shelves and needed to reorganize them to make them fit better, I decided to give it a try. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t like the finished product at all.


I know for a lot of people, the concern is that they won’t know where to find their books. I didn’t think I’d have that problem, but I was definitely wrong. It turns out that I don’t necessarily know what color the spine is on a lot of my books, especially the romance novels and nonfiction books. I know what the covers look like, but I have to hunt a bit to find them sorted by spine color.

That, however, was not the deal breaker for me, though it’s certainly annoying. No, instead I felt like my shelves lost all of their personality. They lost everything that made them a reflection of myself and my reading.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but I really like looking at my shelves organized by genre and having them reflect that I read from a wide variety of genres, and that I read a lot of unique things within each of those genres. For instance, if you look at my memoir shelf, you can see that I’ve read some pretty varied books by some really fascinating people. And if you look at my fantasy shelves, you can tell pretty quickly who my favorite authors are.

When my books are organized by color, they lose that uniqueness. My books organized by rainbow colors are pretty for sure, but they don’t look all that different from everyone else’s books organized by color, and you have to actually look at them to see what books make up the rainbow.

Furthermore, I feel like when my books are organized by color, my books become more of a design element in my home and less a bookcase. When they’re organized by color, they’re just another decoration, and my eyes skim past them. But when they’re not, my eye catches on them and I actually look at the titles on the shelf.

That said, I do still like having rainbow elements on my shelves, especially since some books have such fun colors on their spines. But it works better for me in smaller doses, like when I organized two shelves of unread books by color. They added a nice pop to my bookcases, and I still had a pretty narrow idea of where my books were, so it didn’t take too long to hunt through when I wanted something. (Sadly, I don’t have enough unread books to do that anymore.)

I just think it’s interesting because I love the aesthetic of rainbow colored books on social media, and I never would have thought it wouldn’t work for me! Like I said, pretty much the only negative I considered would be how hard it would be to find books, which I definitely underestimated. Though I should mention that actually organizing books by color was more difficult than I anticipated; there are just so many shades of each color, and so many spines that use multiple colors! Organizing them was definitely a process.

So while I’m sad that rainbow shelves won’t work for me, I’m much happier having my books organized by genre. I actually shared a lot of behind the scenes on my reorganization and the final product in my Instagram stories. I saved it in my highlights reel if you want to check it out!

How about you? What do you think of the rainbow shelf craze? Does it work for you? Let me know in the comments!

14 thoughts on “Why Rainbow Shelves Don’t Work For Me

    • The series didn’t bother me all that much, surprisingly enough! I’d be really curious to see what you think if you ever decide to try it. I will personally not be going back to it anytime soon!


  1. I LOVE THIS POST!! I was considering organizing my shelves by rainbow, but ultimately decided not to because I thought I wouldn’t be able to find anything. I also feel like your point about them losing their personality is an awesome point and honestly so true?? My shelves are a hodge-podge of dark fantasy spines and bright MG books and all the in between, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Honestly, I’m so surprised that the personality wound up being the biggest sticking point because it never occurred to me until I tried rainbow shelves, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about their shelves!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the look of them but the only way rainbow shelves would work is if you make an excel spreadsheet detailing each the location of each book and filter by genre as needed to find what you want. That’s WAY too much work just to keep shelves pretty, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this post! My biggest thing about rainbow shelves is that I would have to separate my series. Just writing this makes my eye twitch. I just hate not having series together. Also, like you said, I love looking at a shelf and knowing exactly which genre of books I can find there. But more than that I truly love my author shelves. I have a few authors that are my absolute favorites and I buy anything they write and publish, so with some I have an entire shelf just for them. I love that so much, it just makes my heart happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought having my series separated would really bother me, but it actually didn’t! Or at least, I was too displeased with other aspects of my shelves to care as much about that. Actually, it kind of helped for some series where I have the first trilogy in paperback and the second in hardcover (like Shadow and Bone and Red Rising), or for series that just do not match because of how they were published (Maria Snyder). But yeah, I really like keeping works by an author together, too! And grouping things by genre. It just makes more sense altogether!!

      And I’m so glad your shelves make your heart happy! That’s always the goal ❤️❤️❤️


  4. Pingback: In Praise of (A Small Amount of) Clutter – Orchids on my budget

Leave a Reply to firewhiskeyreader Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s