How to Declutter Books

Books often hold sentimental value to a person. Whilst everyone is different and holds different priorities and motivations, there is often an emotional connection between reader and book. Sometimes people feel anxious at the thought of decluttering their book collection and that is totally understandable and valid. Purging books is a personal choice and journey. Before purging it is important to identify your intentions.

Why am I decluttering my books?

Why do I need to keep my books?

If you are a book collector and possessing multiple copies and/or special editions brings you joy—then that is important aspect to acknowledge. For example, “I keep books because I read and collect them. I love reading and owning books give me joy I love seeing my shelves full.”

If you are not too concerned with owning special editions and drowning in the number of books perhaps consider why you need to keep all the books. 

Before you begin the process, consider yourself and your collection.

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Decluttering books: The Process

Step 1: Give yourself a time frame

Remember, be realistic with yourself. Give yourself a reasonable time frame to do this process. Some people need to do declutter in one go, some need to achieve this over increments of time.

As much as I’d like to think I can achieve this in one hit, I know I won’t. 

Step 2: Look at your book collection and categorise your books to

Keep
Donate 
Sell

That’s it! These are the steps! Haha. But if you struggle with decluttering (like me) or unsure how to categorise your books, ask yourself the following questions:

Questions for categorising books

Is this a duplicate?

    • Unless you’re an avid book collector, most often you don’t need multiple copies of a book. Check for duplicates and decide which copy you want. For optimal results be ruthless with yourself.

Is this book still relevant to me?

    • How do you determine what’s relevant for you? You get to decide the parameters. However, an example of books that have lost relevance for me include magazines, textbooks, and travel materials that have lost its relevance due to being outdated, unneeded, or unnecessary. If the book does not serve a purpose, if it holds no value to you, perhaps you no longer need it.

Have I read this and/or will I read this again?

    • Books you haven’t read:
      • Set realistic expectations on yourself: will I truly read this?
        • If the answer is no, consider why you won’t read the book and decide whether there is a need or reason to keep the book. 
  •  
  • Books you have read—will you re-read it?
    • First and foremost: books are meant to be read. Consider why you want to keep the book. A book’s initial purpose is to be consumed. If you have read the book then the book has served its primary purpose. If you want to re-read/share/happily gaze at the book then perhaps you can and should keep the book.
  • The “Just in case” books:
    • Consider if you were to lose this book—would this bother you? If not, then perhaps the book no longer serves a purpose for you.
    • Am I able to replace this book should I need it again? (For example, library copy, digital format, is this an out of print book?)

What do to with the books:

Donate or sell

  • Donate to:
    • The public library
    • Schools
    • Thrift stores
    • People you know who would appreciate the book

If it is difficult to let go of books remember this:

  • Do I have access to a library and if so, am I able to borrow this book?
  • Can I consume this book via digital format? Audiobooks and/or e-readers?
  • Why do I own this particular book?

If you do declutter books that gives potential shelf space for more books!

Additional tips:

define a specific a home to keep the books

get rid of books you don’t usually re-read

keep books you would want to re-buy again 

be deliberate and intentional with books you want to own

I write this blog mainly to myself as I don’t want to hold onto books that I don’t love nor hold any value to me. If you have any tips or pointers on decluttering I’d love it if you’d share them!

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