A quick guide on how to declutter books so you are left only with the books that you truly enjoy reading!
Do you love books?
You probably dreamed of having your own library in your home with a reading nook by the window – where you can read and sip coffee during a rainy day.
But then you grow up and realize that you do not have room for a library and that your books are taking too much space.
Or maybe you are a book hoarder who just couldn’t help but step in a bookstore and buy a handful of books even when you know you still have lots at home waiting to be read.
Whatever the reason is behind your growing book collection, you know they are taking too much space.
It may be time for you to consider decluttering your books.
I know decluttering books is a book lover’s nightmare! But this is one step that you have to do to have your needed space.
Decluttering your books does not mean getting rid of everything. It means keeping the ones that really matter and getting rid of those that you would not miss.
And let’s face it, there may be some books you own that are just gathering dust on your shelves because you only read them once.
If you’re not sure where to start, here is a quick guide that will help you declutter your books!
What to get rid of
When you declutter books and land into these types of books, you can safely say goodbye without the need to feel guilty.
1. Outdated material
How many textbooks or reference books do you own? Some of them may be irrelevant already.
For instance, there are scientific discoveries that have proved earlier theories wrong and this makes earlier editions of science textbooks irrelevant.
Some countries and cities have also changed their names so an atlas from 30 years ago would be outdated.
There are also new words being added to our vocabulary each day so there are some dictionaries that do not have these new terms.
See whether you have a couple of outdated texts in your collection and get rid of those already.
You only need one copy of each book. You do not need to get another copy just because it has a different or even better cover.
Also, if you have an eBook copy of the book then you do not need to keep the paperback version.
Some of us do collect different editions and covers of our favorite books and this can be accepted as a collection but if you have duplicates with no sentimental value, get rid of them and just keep one copy.
3. Books you never read
I am not referring to the books in your reading list that you actually plan to read. I am referring to books that you have purchased years ago but you never came to reading.
Either you bought something more interesting, or it may be a gift from someone else who thought it would be your kind of thing, or you started it and lost interest in it and never picked it up again.
There’s no use holding on to books that you are not interested in.
4. Books you’ll never read again
For the books that you did read, ask yourself if you will ever read them again.
Some books are good but not good enough to earn a re-reading. If you know you will not read the book again then that book has to go.
5. Books you bought for status
Some women buy and keep books based on what’s trendy or because of their reputation – even if they do not actually love them.
Yes, you must read the classics but if you don’t like them, why keep them? Just to show guests that you are intelligent and well-read?
Some of us also buy popular books to display at home to show guests that we are cool.
I believe that your book choices say a lot about you but there’s really no point in buying books just for a show.
6. Books you keep for monetary value
Sometimes we keep holding on to our old books because of their monetary value. We think that re-selling these books one day will give us a serious cashback.
Unless you are holding on to a rare book, a signed book, or a first edition, you have to be realistic about the monetary value of your books.
These days, it is very easy to check their worth. There are websites and apps that let you enter the ISBN of your books and give you a list of how much merchants would offer for the book.
Better check how much your book is really worth now!
7. Self-help books
There are some books that you might have bought to help you get through a certain situation.
If you have already moved on from that episode and you know you will no longer go through it again, then there is no reason to keep these self-help books with you.
You know that you will no longer need it again because you are in a better state now. Therefore, they are no longer useful to you.
8. Trivial books
If you have books that are trivial like a book of facts or an almanac, you should consider getting rid of them too.
These are books that you do not really need and they do not contain any literary or scientific merit for you.
Do you actually do all the recipes in your cookbooks?
Chances are, you only have a few favorites from every cookbook you have. Copy these favored recipes and let the cookbooks go.
Do not worry if you think you might find yourself wanting to try out a certain recipe someday. You can easily get recipes online these days!
What should you do with the books that should go?
Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of your books. Just think that somebody else out there can benefit from it.
When your books are still in good condition, you can choose among the following options:
1. Give them away.
When you find a book that you know your friend or a family member will enjoy, give that to him/her.
This way, you know your book will be going to someone who will appreciate it!
2. Sell your books.
You can sell your books and make money out of your decluttering efforts!
There are lots of online platforms that buy secondhand books – especially textbooks. They will also pay for the shipping!
Here’s a list of online platforms that will want to buy the books that you declutter.
You also have the option to sell them to your local secondhand bookstores.
3. Donate them.
Donation is another good option after you declutter your books.
Lots of venues and platforms accept book donations. You can donate them to your local libraries, public schools, hospitals, homes for the aged, charities, and many more.
This way, you do not only get to give yourself more space at home, but you also get to practice generosity – a trait that is worth developing!
Make sure to keep your receipts of donation since they will be useful when tax season comes.
Here’s a list of places that accept book donations.
Recycle worn out books.
When you declutter books, it’s normal to land on some that are already in bad shape – like it has torn off pages, a loose spine, or it’s a really old book that looks battered. Better recycle them rather than mindlessly throwing them in the trash bin.
If you don’t have time to recycle, then just donate them to a recycling facility and they’ll take care of that. Check which recycling centers near you accept old books.
This way, you can at least make sure that those books will not just end up in a landfill.
Maintenance tips after decluttering your books
After you declutter your books, you will now be able to enjoy a clutter-free shelf, and yes – more shelf space!
But you have to make sure you maintain things that way.
You don’t want to go back to your previous cluttered state, right?
So here are some tips that you should keep in mind to maintain a clutter-free shelf!
1. Use the library.
Instead of buying books, why not use the libraries in your area?
Libraries do not only have text and resource books. They also have a fiction section.
Almost every city has a library. Try to find one nearest to you and pay them a visit to see what they have to offer.
What I love about this trick is – the possibility of you having to declutter books again in the future is slim because you’re not owning them anymore.
And since you’re not buying books as often as before, you can save that money or use that for something else!
2. Go digital.
There’s a certain stigma for eBooks. People think they are not “real book lovers” cause nothing beats the feel and smell of an actual book.
Do not be deterred by this. An eBook and a printed book both educate and entertain you just the same.
Some people can declutter their books and give them all away because they were able to find eBook copies of their favorites.
eBooks let you store thousands of books on any device – even your smartphones. They are also cheaper than the printed editions.
The best part about it? You can take all your books with you anywhere you go and read even when the lights are out!
This is a really good option you should consider when you declutter books and you find out that most of your book collections already have digital copies.
3. One in one out rule.
The one in one out rule is a classic for minimalists. This can be applied to anything in your home, not just for books.
This means that to bring something new, you need to get rid of something old.
If you buy a new book, you need to do a quick declutter on your books and get rid of an old one. Simple!
4. Make it a habit.
The best way to maintain a clutter-free home is to declutter regularly.
So aim to make decluttering a habit.
One good example is to declutter books at least once a year. It helps you maintain the space.
More importantly, it forces you to be honest with yourself again – are you still actually reading all the books that you keep?
You don’t need to keep every book you have read.
As you can see, you can be a book lover and still be able to maintain a neat and tidy home.
Your bookshelf should not be a permanent shrine that shows your reading history. So again don’t feel guilty when you declutter your books.
Just hold on to those books that you keep re-reading and those that continue to make an impact in your life.
By holding on to just the books you love, you now have more shelf space for things that really matter and things that you do use on a daily basis!