Building a Better Bookshelf: A Winter Adventure


            Wherever I’ve been I’ve always had bookshelves. The only things that have ever changed have been the number, shelves, organization, and quality. For most of 2018, I lived off of one micromanaged BILLY bookcase and the rest of my books were in a storage unit. When I moved into an apartment, all the books came out, and I suddenly had an organization problem on my hands. Unfortunately, when you’re a grad student it’s not too easy to find time to take care of home projects during the semester so I put it off till my winter break. And then I got to work.

            Before I moved out, I perused Pinterest for ideas that fit my budget, creativity, and general constraints. Although I could just make a trip to Sacramento, drop over a hundred dollars, and buy more BILLY shelves I didn’t super want to unless necessary. Thankfully, the ‘net provides. I liked the simple design of the cinderblock and wood shelves, and found twelve beautiful cinderblocks out back at my grandparents’ house. They needed some cleaning up, but were overall in good condition.


            Simple steps to build this kind of bookshelf:

·       Measure where you want the bookshelf to go. In my case, I wanted it to go along a hall so it needed to be eight feet long.

·       Buy the supplies. Luckily, there was some precut wood in my length at Home Depot; I put off buying more planks or cinderblocks until I determined if I needed them.

·       Clean the used cinderblocks.

·       Measure the distance between cinderblocks for how approximate you want them from each other.

·       Then lay down the first plank.

·       Repeat with more cinderblocks and other planks until you run out.

·       Sand the planks (if unfinished wood) and then vacuum up the sawdust.

·       Begin organizing books on the shelves. Realize you have too many books. Need more shelves.

·       Return to Home Depot. Buy six foot finished planks and cinderblocks. (Thank you to the very nice employee who loaded them into my car for me).

·       Put down cinderblocks and planks. Build it up to a reasonable height.

·       Organize the rest of the books.

·       Admire your work!

·       (Make sure it is stable).

You can vary a lot of things with this kind of design: the wood, the cinderblocks, the staggering of shelves, the organization (I do it by height). In the end, I have room for the majority of my books and now they’re not double-stacked or ugly and it brings me so much joy.


3 thoughts on “Building a Better Bookshelf: A Winter Adventure

  1. I love the cinderblock look! I finally have just enough space for all of my books on my shelves. I’m constantly rearranging because I can’t figure out how I prefer to organize them. This time I have all the books I haven’t read in one spot, which is way too many but I’m sure I’ll oeep buying more. 😂

    1. I’ve tried the whole organize by color thing, but it bothers me that that separates series sometimes. And if I separated between the books I have and haven’t read it would be about half and half! (Technically, I have a separate shelf now for comps and textbooks for the semester [not pictured]).