How to Cut your Book Problem Down to Size

how to organize your books and de-clutter your life

Do you have a book problem and not realize it?  Take a peek at where you are storing your books.  Are any on the floor?  Are they stacked up in a corner?  Is your bookcase stuffed with books making it difficult to even pull out a book to read?  Are your bookcase shelves bowing under the weight of your book collection?  Do you feel emotionally connected to most of your books and get overwhelmed at the thought of parting with your books?  If you answered yes, to any of these questions, this post is for you!  Today, I’m going to teach you how to pare down your collection with practical and realistic strategies!

The goal: To pare down your bookcase so that 75% of the space is taken up by books and 15-20% is  decorative items and 5-10% is free space.  Why these proportions?  Your bookcase will be well balanced and will be more pleasing to the eye.  And you want to leave yourself with a bit of room to grow too.

How to achieve this balance:

Let go of:
  • Books in bad shape (broken bindings make it really hard to read books, so let them go!)
  • Books that have mildew or have a musty odor (sometimes leaving the book in the sun can kill the musty smell, but often it’s a lost cause)
  • Books you’ve never read or are no longer interested in
  • Books you didn’t like or no longer need (i.e. give up that copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting if your kids are all in college)
  • Books you have no intent of reading or referencing
  • Books that don’t belong to you (give that copy of 50 Shades of Grey back to your BFF who loaned it to you!)
  • Books with information that is easily found online (i.e. a thesaurus or dictionary)
  • Books that have outdated info (hello, outdated Encyclopedia Britannica sets, and textbooks over a year old)
  • Duplicates (I’ve had clients who had more than one copy of the exact same book about how to get organized!  If only they’d called me earlier! Ha!)  This goes for hardback and paperback versions as well – pick one to keep and let go of the other.
  • Books that aren’t your favorite (use your library in this instance and borrow the book when you’re in the mood!)
But hang on to:
  • Your absolute favorite books that you enjoy re-reading
  • Books you reference frequently
  • Books you plan to read within the next 6 months (be realistic!)

But hang on, Christina you say!  This First Edition of The Baby Sitter’s Club is worth a lot of money!  Listen,  I loved that series too, but I’m betting it isn’t worth what you think.  Instead of guessing on a book’s value, head on over to Biblio.com/book-value to check out the real numbers.  Seeing the actual value may make it easier to let go of some books you thought were worth more than they really are.  Bad news for Baby Sitter’s Club fans…

Now what?

You’ve followed the above guidelines and are left with a stack of books to let go of (yay, you!).  What’s next?  Getting them out of your space!
Here are two easy options:
If the books are in good shape, donate them to the library or sell them to second hand book stores, like Half Price Books.
If the books are past their useful life, recycle them (tear off hard covers first).
I know there are more options out there, but these are the simplest ones that will help you move what you’re letting go of out of your space in as little time as possible.

Over to you!

Have you had success paring down your book collection?

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