I vividly remember the moment when I fell in love with reading. I was seven and my parents had rented The Last of the Mohicans, which I had no interest in seeing. I didn’t know what to do with myself while it was on, but I was definitely not going to watch the movie.
Fortunately, I was blessed with a mom who not only got me a bookshelf, but stocked it with books she thought I’d enjoy (hurray for yard sales!). I pulled a book off the shelf and started reading. And have been reading, voraciously, since then.
So, naturally, I accumulated a lot of books over the years.
When I started to declutter my house, I was motivated by my goal of keeping a tidy house with minimal cleaning. So I went at the process with gusto.
Getting rid of kitchen gadgets was pretty easy. (Here’s what I kept.) As was removing items I didn’t wear from my wardrobe (I hated a lot of what I had). But when it came to books, I had a hard time.
There were so many, and they had so much valuable information inside. How could I choose what to get rid of?
But I knew I had to seriously thin my collection if I was going to achieve my goal of a clean house with minimal cleaning, so I got to work.
Today, I still have a fair amount of books, even in the bus, and a couple of boxes of them in storage, but it’s much less than I used to have. And it works for us.
If you’ve run into a similar problem in your decluttering journey, you might want to try these tips that helped me. And before you hyperventilate at the thought of getting rid of your books, just remember this one word: library. Alright, here we go:
1. Separate your favorites
Chances are, you’ll have a much easier time parting with the ones you’ve only read once and have never really gotten back to, than those that are dog-eared and highlighted because you’re constantly referring to them.
And, if you’re anything like the rest of us, only 20% (or less) of your books will fall into this category. So even if you just get rid of the ones that aren’t your favorites, you’ll make a huge dent.
2. Ditch the fiction
I love fiction, I really do, but I find that once I read a book, I’m not going back to it. I don’t mark it up like I do non-fiction and it usually just gathers dust on my shelf. And if there is a piece of fiction I want, I get it from the library in either physical, audio or e-format (more on that below).
Now, if you have a book that you read and re-read, keep it. This isn’t a test to see how much you can deprive yourself – you’re just trying to clear away the clutter from what matters most to you.
3. Go digital
Many books are now in digital format. And if you have a Kindle, or any device that you can put the Kindle app on, you can read many books in digital format.You can certainly replace most of your library with digital books, but that’s going to get expensive, so this is mainly for future book purchases.
I actually read most books in digital format now, especially fiction.
4. Distribute them
I have some books in my collection that I really want to have handy when we live in a house again, but I don’t have space for in the bus right now. Because I don’t want them to just sit in a tote right now, I’m distributing them to friends who I know will use them.
For instance, my friend Tara is keeping my copy of Nourishing Traditions. I know she’ll take care of it and we’ve even made a recipe from it together at her house.
Yay relationship building!
And what do you do with those books you decide to get rid of? Give them away. Or sell them. Or trade them in.
Just do it quickly so you don’t find them back on your shelves.
Do you have any tips to share for decluttering your bookshelf?