So many of us collect books. As a (mostly) reformed book
hoarder collector myself, I totally understand this. They’re pretty. They hold beloved friends and amazing adventures. And they can make us feel important. Some may not admit this, but I’ve heard it from others and it was true for myself. We think “If people come to my house and see my shelf full of wonderful books they’re going to think I’m smart and well read”.
So we all agree, books are great. The problem is if you’re an avid reader, books can start to take up a lot of space. And for the most part they only ever get used once. Think about that. You use this thing once, put it on a shelf and NEVER TOUCH IT AGAIN. Except for dusting it, and moving it around to make space for other books you probably won’t touch again. And yet I so often hear that books are among the hardest things to let go of.
If you’re working on downsizing or reducing clutter, and can’t seem to part with your books, here’s a few tips to help you through the process.
- Start with the easy ones! Books you did not finish. Any book you started and could not get through can go in the donation pile immediately. Any book you struggled through in hopes it would get better but it never did can go too.
- Next take a stab at your To Be Read pile. This one can be tough, but if it’s been sitting on your shelf unopened for a long time, you’re probably not going to read it. I let go of any book that had been sitting unread for more than a year. Depending on how big the pile or how fast you read, you may want to adjust that number. But set a limit and stick to it. Then stop buying new books until you either finish or have donated all the unread ones you already have.
- Do you have Reference books? Do you reference them anymore? Is the information still up to date and relevant? Is the information better than what’s available online? If you answered no to those last 3 questions, you can let those books go too. I had a thesaurus and a dictionary that were quite large but I always kept because everyone should have a thesaurus and a dictionary right? Then one day I decided to put them to use and realized they were both very dated and limited in the information they offered. I have a fantastic dictionary app on my phone and the internet has your back if you’re not that nerdy.
- Will you re-read it? Some of us read our favourites over and over. If you have books like that, great! By all means keep and enjoy them. If you liked a book but it won’t make it to your favourites shelf, pass it on! Let someone else read that good story and then tell them to pass it on too. There are too many great books out there waiting to be discovered to spend your time re-reading.
- Go digital! Yeah, Yeah… I’ve heard the but “I just love the feel of a book in my hands” argument. To my experience that usually comes from people who haven’t really tried it. E-reading is fantastic! Books are lighter (if you’ve ever fallen asleep reading in bed, you’ll know why this matters!), easier to hold and transport, and you can fit your whole library in your hand. I will say that I don’t like reading on my phone or tablet, but with an e-reader using e-ink (not backlit) it’s great.
- If you refuse to go digital, you can go to the library to ease the pressure on your shelves. All the choices, none of the clutter.
- If you want to get really serious with your book purge, remove a bookcase. Suddenly that valuable book real estate has more meaning and you’ll be more selective with what you decide to keep. I found this made it easier to reduce my books and gave me back some much needed space in my living room!
By following these steps, you should be able to get your book mountain down to a sizeable heap. Are you a book collector? Do you have any other helpful tips to reduce your book collection?
If you’ve pared down your collection and now have a pile of books that need a new home, let us help you get rid of them responsibly!