12 Brilliantly Creative Ways To Store Your Books Without A Bookshelf

No need to donate your books. Instead, get creative with it.

woman organizing books Clauii Campos / Studio Philippines via Canva

If you want to learn how to organize books without a bookshelf, it starts with a little creativity.

I've been in love with books ever since I could sit still long enough to listen to a story. I've collected a wide variety of books and truly enjoy sharing my collection with family and friends. Over the years, I've reduced my book collection so that they fit on the few bookshelves in my home.

But no matter how many books you have, you typically want a place to display them. The most logical place is a bookshelf.


What do you do if you love books and have a large collection of them, but don’t have a bookshelf?

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There’s no need to go shopping. You just have to get a little creative with your organizing strategy and repurpose empty, unused spaces in your home. Look around your home for empty spaces to fill with books.


When you find that empty space, here are 12 brilliant ways to organize your books without a bookshelf.

1. Make a table with coffee-table books.

Could you use a small side table next to a couch or a chair? Build one using large coffee-table picture books. They stack nicely, usually have interesting book jackets, and are heavy enough so they won’t topple over.

Start by sorting through your collection of books and pull out the large, heavy coffee-table books. Organize your coffee-table books without a bookshelf by stacking them and making a small side table.

2. Decorate window sills and mantels.

Is your window sill wide enough to hold books? Sort through your collection of books and find all the books on a topic, by an author, or books of a specific size that will fit on the windowsill.

Place the books there, and you've created a bookshelf out of your window sill. You can do the same thing on your fireplace mantel.


Keep in mind that you do not have to display the books with their spine out. You can also make short stacks of books and have trinkets placed on top of the stacks or in between them.

3. Use the fireplace.

Storing your books in a fireplace sounds horrible at first, but it's a pretty neat idea. If you have a fireplace and are not in the habit of lighting a fire, use the fireplace as a bookshelf.

Look at the books in your collection, and select some books whose jacket covers you’d like to display in the fireplace. A suggestion is to put the tallest books in the center and create stair steps down from there with shorter and shorter books.

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4. Use a hutch or a buffet to display books.

If your living or dining room furniture includes a China hutch, consider using one or more of the shelves to display your books.

Sort your books to find ones that will fit in the space. Decide if you want to stack the books inside the cubby and place some China on top of the stack, or if you want to dedicate a few cubbies in the hutch to books.

Either way, this makes a great alternative bookcase. If you have a buffet table, use the top to display some of your books.

5. Use a carton to organize paperback books.

If you have too many paperbacks to fit in your bookshelf, you can take a carton from the grocery store — the kind that a case of cans comes in — and use it to organize your paperbacks.


They will fit side by side, spine up, and be organized. The carton filled with paperbacks will probably be able to slide right under your bed. You can easily find the one you want by sliding the carton out from under your bed.

6. Use a bar cart.

It may sound strange, but a bar cart is one of the most creative and out-of-the-box ideas to use for book storage.

Not only does it display your books in a cool fashion, but bar carts can be moved with ease. Don't like the cart in the living room? Just roll it into the office or a bedroom. It takes a matter of seconds to move around and your books will look like royalty.

7. Use vertical space.

Many people never think about stacking their books to use up vital vertical space. Have a wall you just can't think of what to put on? Stack your books by it. Arranging your books on the floor can create a fun aesthetic and allows you to see the spines of your books.


If you see any unused vertical space in your house that you want to use, books are a great way to accomplish that. Remember to look up and use vertical space. Become your own interior designer and look for open spaces in your home that will benefit from an interesting book jacket or two.

8. Stack them under a bench.

If you have benches in your house, maybe by a window, a reading nook, or at your front door, place books under them to make the decor pop. Try arranging by color to give a rainbow effect.

It's a great way to store books and get them out of the way.

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9. Add the books to a record cabinet.

If you listen to records, you may have a record cabinet. With cabinets comes a ton of space to use, so mix up some books with your records to give it a cool vibe.


Books can also be great as genre dividers in the cabinet. Put your pop albums together, then insert a book or two, and then move into Rock or R&B or Broadway Musicals. Console tables can do the same trick as well with your films.

10. Make use of high-storage spaces.

Most people have a ton of unused high storage places in their homes. This is prime real estate for books you don't read as often. It takes up space and can give your shelving a more pleasant aesthetic than an empty, lonely shelf.

11. Try floating shelves.

Floating shelves are very popular right now, so dive into the trend and buy yourself some neat ones. It will be way less expensive than buying a bookshelf or shelving unit, and can give your home a magical vibe that is Instagram-worthy.


Choose your favorite books to display and get to work.

12. Use old suitcases.

If you have any old vintage-looking suitcases, you can use these as storage for your books. It creates a stunning focal point for any room and makes use of an old item you may not use anymore.

As a book lover myself, I'm always interested in finding creative ways to store and display books. There's nothing wrong with having a bookshelf on which to organize your books. But if you don’t have one, let your creative energy loose and try one or more of these ideas.

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Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, and Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing, and in working with people challenged by ADD, hoarding, and chronic disorganization.