A little while ago, my friend Tricia and I went to a used bookstore to sell some of our books, I donated the rest to a different one in my hometown. Altogether, I got rid of 32 books. I’ll be honest, it was a little sad parting ways with them, and it got me thinking…
Most avid readers can tell you that sometimes our books can feel a little like our pets: cute, comforting, and something we never, ever want to get rid of. But there simply isn’t enough space in my house to shelter all the books I’d ever want. So, I spent two days going through every book I own and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of. And it was tougher than I expected! So I here’s my advice for anyone who might be facing the same bookish dilemma.
Do Your Research
Take a look at all the places in your area that accept used books. (These often include used bookstores, libraries, and schools. Sometimes, even artists or community centers will accept them for projects.) Try to pick a place that gets a lot of traffic or is well-reviewed. You’ll feel better about parting ways with your books if you know someone will pick them up and cherish them.
Take an honest look at your shelf space (or floor space, bed space; wherever you keep your books) and figure out how many books you actually have room for. Are you going to keep seven books? Or seven thousand? Having a specific limit will help when you have to make tough decisions.
Then, when you’re looking over your massive piles of books and fully stocked shelves, pull out the ones you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you won’t get rid of. Make a pile of these favourites and put them aside. Then do the same with any you know for sure you’ll be getting rid of, putting them in a separate pile. This’ll help you build a little bit of momentum and feel a bit accomplished right from the very beginning, and help with some of the tougher decisions (I’ll get to that).
Work On Your TBR Pile Next
I find it easier to get rid of books I haven’t read yet than the ones I’ve read and grown attached to. When you get to your TBR shelf, think of how long a book should be allowed to wait on your shelf before being read. For me, I decided any book that had been waiting for longer than two years was an automatic “pass on” book. If it had been waiting for longer than that, chances were that I was never going to get around to it. (If you can’t remember how long a book has been on your shelf, it’s probably time for it to go.)
Then, look at the rest of your TBR lineup. The books you know you’ll read can go right into the “Keep” pile. After that, just be honest with yourself: Is this a book you’ll read in the next two years (or other previously specified time frame)? Remember the number of books you’re planning to keep. Are you okay with hanging onto this book if it means that you’ll have to get rid of a different one? If the answer is no, get rid of it, otherwise keep it.
On To Your “Finished” Books
This is the one that was hardest for me. These were characters and worlds I had grown attached to at some point. How was I just going to abandon them?
This is where having that specific number helps. Ask yourself if you’re willing to keep this book you’ve already finished, even if it means missing out on experiencing a new book.
It also helps to use the same time frame you gave yourself for your TBR shelf. Have you reread that book, or even parts of it, within the last two years? Or have you lent it to someone else so they could enjoy it within the last two years? If the answer to those questions is “no,” it may be time to get rid of it. For me, the only exception to this rule was if it was part of a series that hadn’t been completed, yet.
Unless of course it had a reeeeaaaalllly pretty cover. Then I kept it.
If you’re still on the fence, compare it to the books you’ve already sorted. Is it similar to the books you’re keeping, or the ones you’re giving away? If it has more in common with one pile than the other, it probably belongs in that pile.
Take Care of Them ASAP
Once you’ve made your decisions, take care of the books as soon as you can. You don’t want the books you’re getting rid of laying around for days. You’ll start to second-guess your decisions, and those books will manage to guilt you into keeping them without saying a word. You’ve made your decisions, you don’t have time to go back on them and start over.
On the flip side, putting the books you’re keeping back on the shelf will make you feel that sense of accomplishment, and seeing that clean, organized bookshelf will help you feel better about getting rid of some books. Plus, who doesn’t like to look at pretty and organized shelves?
Thanks for reading!
When was the last time you had to do a book un-haul? Are they as hard for you as they are for me? What tips would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!