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woman reading on leather armchair with large bookcase behind

How To Curate Your Own Bookcase

“My Dad teaches English, and he says arranging the books on your shelf is an act of literary criticism.” – Gabby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation

Porter Riley believes that a bookcase is inherently personal: a collection of narratives, biographies, travel tips and artefacts which have been uniquely selected and gathered together by an individual. Your bookshelves speak volumes (excuse the pun!), and so whether you have one bookshelf or a whole library, what you put on them is a reflection of you. By curating your own bookcase you can create a corner of your home to be proud of, and an exciting space to peruse for the next piece of literature to get your teeth stuck in to.

Here are some of Porter Riley’s tips to sort your shelves:

The Bookcase

We don’t think you can have a good painting unless you’ve got a nice canvas. The same thought applies to your bookcase. Make sure you’ve shown it a bit of love before loading it up. A good clean and a lick of paint, or perhaps installing some floating shelves, will instantly make your storage smarter.


If you’ve still got that book that was a gift three years ago and you have never read, nor have any intention to read, then it’s time to pass it on to a new home. Get rid of the things that you didn’t enjoy reading so that you’re left with only your favourite books and literature that you’re excited to start.


Your combination of books are unique – perhaps this is why we find nosing through other people’s bookshelves so satisfying. A bookcase provides an insight into your tastes, humours and interests. The shelves hold physical stories whilst conjuring up memories of your own.

  • In a modern home, space needs to be maximised. We think a ‘multi-tasking’ shelf is a creative way to display your special objects. Intercept and bookend your tomes with pretty decorative pieces: a wooden key bowl, photographs, a vintage typewriter or a leather-bound pair of binoculars for instance!
  • Play around with tones and textures. You could arrange your collection by colour, or gather together interesting covers. Celebrate the slightly worn leather-bound books, bright cloth covers, and even the flaked spines of those great books you picked up at a charity shop.
  • If you want to be a little quirky, experiment with levels. Place teeny books next to great big volumes, try propping up a line of upright books with a stack of books, or place some leaning diagonally.
  • If you don’t have a memory for names, try organising your books by genre or time period, or perhaps create a separate section for the books you always come back to.

Here at Porter Riley, we are advocates of the idea that practicality is no longer synonymous with blandness – and can even be a little bit exciting!

Suggested Books for the Modern Bookcase

Wallpaper* City Guides, from £6.95

These pocket-sized travel books reveal all you need to know about the world’s most intoxicating cities –  and look wonderful on your shelves once you’ve finished with them.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, £27

Jam-packed full of beautiful Middle Eastern recipes, this is one for the spice lovers and travellers.

Penguin Clothbound Classics, £14.99

penguin clothbound classics

Photo Credit: Porterhouse & Stone

Beautiful clothbound classics. If you’re going to embark on reading Dickens et al, you may as well do it in style.

Penguin Modern Classics, £14.99

penguin modern classics

Photo Credit: Jim Stoddart

Penguin Books have a succinct collection of Modern Classics – definitely worth perusing.

Porter Riley is a London-based leather design company who believe in making the ordinary that little bit more extraordinary. Our range of luxury leather phone cases blend the practical and the pretty so you can make notes for your novel, share snaps of your bookshelf, and conduct conversations in style.

Words by Serena Banfield


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