Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Book Decluttering


Book decluttering is right up my alley because with my minimalist tendencies, I keep my book collection under control. I know some minimalists have zero books, but minimalism comes in all varieties. I’ll share the book decluttering categories that work for me.

Paperbacks: I read them and recycle the bad ones and pass along the good ones. Paperbacks won’t stand the test of time, so it’s okay to let them go.

Hardcovers that aren’t made well: I treat these just like the paperbacks. To recycle the icky ones at our recycling center, I have to tear off the cover first, but that's a fun way to take out frustrations.:-)

Hardcovers that are made well: I donate these to the spring charity sales at the YMCA or library.

Gorgeous books: Whether they’re antiques with embossed details or newer books with fabulous cover art, they stay. There aren’t too many of these, but still enough to populate the living room shelves.
This is my 1884 copy of Keats's Poems. Isn't it gorgeous?!
Gifted books: It doesn’t matter the source. I simply thank the person, read the book, and then treat it like the paperback or hardcover it is.

Sentimental books: If it’s a sentimental book because of the story, I can post a glowing online review, and then treat the book like any other paperback or hardcover. If it’s a sentimental book because the author is a BFF, I keep it. But I remind myself that BFF’s are super special, rare people. It’s not like I can have twenty BFF’s and they all happen to be authors.


I can tell I’ve kept the right books. They are ones I regularly dust, rotate (see picture), and gently handle when I pull them off the shelf.
This is what I mean by rotating. The two books on the left are upside down because they were starting to lean to one side, and rotating them helps keep them from getting permanently lopsided.
If you have stuffed bookshelves and you’re tempted to Konmari the heck out of ‘em, don’t do all the books at once. It’d be too dusty, heavy, and overwhelming. I suggest you try just the books in one column of shelves (or even one shelf) and see how it goes.

One more note. I personally think too many books create visual clutter, making it harder for me to concentrate, but others say that extra books in a room feel like the room is welcoming them with a hug, and that’s fine, too. Humans are individuals. We’re not all made alike, so our bookshelves won't all look alike.


Make this day even better. Consider:


  • Try an e-book. I know, I know, I like tangible books too, but I’m getting used to e-books. They don’t take up room. I can buy one and support my fave authors, or I can borrow one and still make use of our fabulous library. I can easily search for a keyword which comes in handy when reading mysteries. (“Wait a minute. Wasn’t there a clue about an umbrella somewhere earlier in the book? I’m going to type in umbrella and find it.”) And I can make the text big so I don’t have to wear my glasses to read!

14 comments:

  1. ..and some people recycle "bad" books by making them into art. I think your categories and methods of dealing with books are superb!--Fawn

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    1. Book art! Aren't you amazed at what people can do with old books? It's impressive. Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for commenting.:-)

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  2. My husband and I were avid book collectors. Then he began to lose his vision. Now legally blind. He sold or gave away a library worth of materials - and over time has replaced them with audio versions. My own library slowly reduced over many years and now I have a small non-fiction list of titles (some cook books, a few crafts books and a very very few special books I just love like A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson.). My kindle list of book is enormous. So much easier to manage, less expensive and little space. I can tell you that 10 years ago I would never have considered Kindle. But once I adopted the enjoyment of the story over the ownership of the paper - Kindle became a no brainer. But that book of poetry is breathtaking. A work of art - poetry aside. To be handed down to someone worthy.

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    1. My husband likes audio books, too. He listens to them in the car on his commute to work. Some of the readers are SO talented. Yeah, that Keats book is a keeper. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Over the last few years I've done a lot of book decluttering. I gave over a dozen boxes to my local library for their fundraising fair and another half dozen to the local nursing home for their residents. It was hard deciding what to part with. I still cling to a lot of old, old paperbacks that were BFFs back in the day. I'm less clingy with my new books, hardbacks or paperbacks, and tend to keep only those that really make an impression on me. No matter how hard I try to keep my bookshelves clutter free, books seem to pile up. Despite having two Kindles and an iPad, I still buy paperbacks and hardbacks too!

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    1. Eighteen boxes of books, yowza, you are a book collector. But given that you're a writer, it totally makes sense. Thanks for commenting.:-)

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  4. No, sorry, I didn't understand a word of this. It sounds as though you get rid of books - but that can't be right, surely.

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    1. Yes, it's right. If we kept all the books we've ever read, we wouldn't be able to walk through the house. It'd be . . . actually, it'd be dangerous. By recycling and by letting others enjoy the books we've already read, we can still read new books while keeping the house tidy. It works for us. Thanks for stopping by, Julia.:-)

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  5. I need to decluttering my bookshelves. I've donated some to the library, but can't make up my mind to give away too many.
    Now I mainly read ebooks so it helps.

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    1. It took me such a long time to get used to ebooks. Now I'm glad for digital publishing. Thank you for commenting, Nil!

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  6. I love those books with the nice, embossed covers and spines - like the ones in your last photo.

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    1. Thanks, TJ. And I like your handsome doggy avatar! Glad you popped by.:-)

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  7. Ooh, I'm afraid this can never be me... Books are my /life/! Grant it, I haven't kept every book I've ever read - I've done serious purging of books I either grew out of, never liked, weren't very good, etc. but I tend to keep most books... I used to donate books to the library, but now I take them to Half Price Books - though, I confess, I never come out of that store without buying a new book. :P I guess you could say I have a "book problem", but oh well. I can't help myself! I'm very, very impressed with your self-control!!
    And I LOVE the pics of your books! So pretty!!

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    1. Oh I know you're quite the book lady! Books are even in your blog title. I'd be interested to know when you hit middle age (ahem, that'd be like me), if you'll still tend to keep most of your books. I wasn't kidding when I said in one of the comments above that we wouldn't be able to walk through the house if we kept all the books we ever bought.

      I never thought I'd say this (because I like tangible books), but I'm grateful for e-books because I can accumulate them without adding to household clutter.

      Thanks for the sweet words about my book pictures. And thanks for commenting, H.L.!

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