When you think of books; do you think of the immenseness of a library, the smell of a fresh new book, the cozy place you love to read, the stories that drew you in, the knowledge you've gained?

We LOVE to romanticize books.

There's just something about them; the mystery, the anticipation, the hope they bring.

However, we don't love to think about the facts. Most of the books you bring home become clutter, never to be read, left sitting on a shelf, a nightstand or worse yet, a discarded pile on the floor. Making you feel defeated by the immense amount of reading you'd have to do to get through them all.

Instead, you can keep your books special by considering each one for its true potential.

Consider your space.

How much space do you really want to fill with books? One shelf, just a few on a side table or an entire Beauty and the Beast sized archival library?

Once you've worked out how much space you really want to use, it's time to consider those books through that lens.

Look at each book and ask yourself a few questions;

  • “Have I already read this?”
  • “Will I actually read this?”
  • “Will I read this again?”
  • “Did I even enjoy this?”
  • “Why didn't I finish this?”

If your answers don't reflect a need to keep the book, it's time to consider letting it go.

Create three piles: keep, give, & not sure.

Once you've done that, check to see if the ‘keep' books fit within your chosen space.

Have no room left and you're stuffing them in? It's time to go through that ‘keep' pile again, this time with a bit more discernment.

Have a lot of space left over? Go through that pile of ‘not sure' and pick out a few of your favorites. Once you have the right amount of books, then you can arrange them accordingly.

Now, what to do with those books you aren't keeping?

There are so many things that you can do with the books you've chosen to let go of.

First option is to sell them, on places like Amazon, eBay, AbeBooks, batch them up and sell them on FB Marketplace or Craigslist. Even some of your local second-hand stores will buy them from you or give you store credit for the ones still in excellent condition. Be careful here with store credit, as it may lead you to bring home too many new books and again having no space to put them.

Another excellent choice is to give them away. The places that take books are close to endless. Second-hand stores, libraries, shelters, jails, reading kiosks, daycares & schools will even take some children's books. You could use social media to let people know what you have, and they can offer to take them off your hands as well.

Something to keep in mind when donating or selling. Be sure they are in good condition. If they are missing pages, damaged or overly marked up, they may need to take a trip to the recycling center or trash bin.

Here comes the tough love part.

I know… I know… no one wants to throw away a ‘good' book, but after you realize it would go to the trash because of its condition, but you choose to keep it on your shelf anyway, you're in actuality choosing to keep trash in your home. This doesn't lead to a comfortable, cozy feeling those books bring you.

Now before you clutch your grandma's pearls, I'm not talking about your baby book with the worn out cover or great grandpa's family bible, with most of the pages falling out of the binding and more notes in the margins than my highschool English papers.

Those are precious… those ain't going nowhere!

I'm talking about that paperback copy of the novel that the dog chewed the cover off of, because the book itself is “still in good condition”. Um… no, it's not. Let it go.

How to keep your books at bay.

How can you keep the space you created for your books, beautiful and organized? Set yourself some ground rules for what you plan to do going forward. For instance, commit to the book sorting project every 3-6 months, to cull out any books you've changed your mind about or to thin out the new books. Or you could commit to a buy one, give one method. For every new book you bring in, you purge one old book to keep it even.

Move your library into the cloud.

There are audiobooks, digital books and all varying options for accessing them, through reading apps, Kindles, etc. You can still buy and read (ok, plan to read) all the books you love, but now they aren't becoming coasters all over your home.

If you find that you buy books, but never read them and simply want to stop spending so much money, there are options for that as well. You can buy second hand from some places mentioned above. You could use the library and check out books or audiobooks. There is even an app called “Libby” where you can plug in your library card number and access all of their digital books and audiobooks for free. You simply borrow what you want, and then return it or renew it at the end of your time allotted, which is usually about 2-3 weeks, depending on your library.

Whatever tools you use, find a way to connect with your books again. Read them, enjoy them, let them become a part of you. As they were intended. 

I love to connect.

What has been your experience with your book collection? Have you kept it at bay, been overwhelmed by it, had to be on an episode of “Hoarders?”. Let me know in the comments below and let's commit to appreciating our books together.

9 Comments

  1. My husband has mentioned this to me many times. But I haven’t thrown away a book in years. LOL If I buy it, I will read it. In reality, I will have to address this soon, I am decluttering my office right now. Good post!

    1. It is one of the more difficult processes for me. I had kept every book from when I was a child on up. I had huge bookshelves full of books. Then I had kids and got even more. I finally had to learn how to purge when we moved 3 times in just over a year. Those books didn’t seem so amazing after moving them for the 3rd time. LOL

  2. April! So glad to see you here! Listen this blog could not have come at a better time. I have Sooooo many books, children’s books, my school books and you know we’re just holding on to them “in case” lol. Well I think I’m ready to take on the exercise. Can you believe I have books on my shelf and books in the cloud??!/ EEEEKKKK

    1. Good to see you too! Don’t feel too bad, how do you think I know just so much about where to give/sell books? I had bags and bags and bags. They went to daycares, donation centers, little libraries, all over and I still have more left to go through!

  3. April, this is the most original, powerful, and useful article I’ve seen about controlling your personal library! Thank you! My system used to involve 2 tall cabinets and a shelf above a roll-top desk; plus a file drawer for books by authors I personally know. But everything went haywire when the cabinets had to be emptied into boxes for the floors to be redone. Now, the order is shot (Spiritual, Medical, Fiction…) and I need to start over. Well, maybe these boxes of books are the perfect way to start sorting afresh? 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! Yes, having them already boxed can help tremendously with avoiding overwhelm, because then you can just commit to doing one box at a time. Sometimes the baby steps are the steps that get the job done. =)

  4. I just completed a 5 day de-stree your mess challenge and one section was on books. It was hard but I went through mine and donated the ones I’ve read and never opened again to a “little community library” where people can borrow a book and return it or replace it with others.

    1. Yes! We have several of those and some of the books I still have to go through, I planned to load in the trunk and scatter throughout the various “little libraries’ we have across town.

  5. When I saw the title of this post, I knew I had to read it even though this will be a much needed tough-love task for me to do in a few weeks from now..
    I am looking at a new bookshelf currently to replace a couple of the old ones and as I reshelf my books, I know I am going to have to declutter..

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