Decluttering Books

Every English book I could get my hands on – whether a well written story or not – became gold to me in Germany. I cherished my books and hesitated to let any of them go because they were in words I could understand. Even though I talked about decluttering books during The Decluttering Project several years ago, I never truly figured out how to let go of the abundance of books that I didn’t need (or didn’t even enjoy).

Until now.

I’d rather fill our home with Dr. Seuss, board books, and adventure stories like Hatchet to share with our son when’s old enough. I think that was my motivation to part with my collection.

shelf of books

If you’re a book hoarder, too, I hope these ideas help.

1. Without counting how many books you have, determine a target number of how many you’d like to have. I wrote “300” in my journal and wrote down exceptions that would not count toward this number: childhood books to share with our son, cookbooks, journals, and piano music.

2. Get aggressive. Pull out every book you know you won’t read again (or ever). My goal was to see how big I could make this pile so that I could hit my target. In less than 10 minutes, I was ready to part with 40 books.

3. Pass books on to people who will love them. Who do you know that loves to read? I made piles for a couple of people. When I looked at my bookshelf, I pulled even more books with specific people in mind. I had a green holiday book that I’d flip through every so often, but I knew my sister would enjoy it more. There were some sweet little Hallmark-like books that are rated G for Grandma. Why not share that joy?

4. Every few days, stare at your bookcase to see what else you could pull. It was like each book leaving my shelf was a celebration. My goodbye pile slowly grew.

5. Sell the books. Used bookstores will often give you shop credit for books they can resell. A lot of people enjoy selling used books on Amazon, too. I took mine to the local shop. I know myself; if I didn’t get rid of the books, they’d slowly creep back onto my shelves.

6. Donate books. Our small town library doesn’t have much. Neither do the school libraries. Now that school is in swing again, my books are going there.

7. Read what you have, then let them go. Early pregnancy left me exhausted, and I decided to enjoy it by reading. My new rule is that once I read a fiction book, it cannot go back on my shelf. It has to be shared. It has to be gone.

8. Read what you have. I’m always tempted by a visit to the library, the bookstore, Amazon, and ebooks. I have to keep telling myself no. I need to read the fiction I already have taking up space in my home. The nonfiction can probably wait, too.

I haven’t done a final count of all my books, but I can tell you this. It’s less than 300 and still shrinking.

What’s your target number?