As an avid reader, I have lots of books, but the first time I heard about decluttering my books, my answer was plain and simple: never! But as time went by and the space on my shelves reduced, I finally decided that I needed to get rid of some books. But how to declutter books? If you’re like me, at this point, you have begun to search for advice on the internet, only to find that some minimalists keep only ten books, which seemed unrealistic to you.
You need a less drastic approach. You want to get some space back but at the same time keep the books you enjoy. This is what I needed, and I’ll share with you the strategy that helped me achieve this goal.
My quick plan to declutter books
My strategy contains a few easy questions. In no time, you’ll know how to declutter your books and better enjoy those you keep.
First, there are books you can’t get rid of, like, for example, coursebooks you currently use. So ask yourself if you must keep the book. The sooner you answer this question, the less you’ll wonder if you keep it.
Once you know you don’t need to keep the book, define if you like it enough to keep it. Because why would you keep books you don’t like? If you answer that you don’t own the book, put it down right now! Don’t declutter things that don’t belong to you! The only exception is that it’s your child’s stuff.
Some questions fit better for a novel than a cookbook. So, for the sake of our decluttering, let’s separate the books into three categories: books with a story (fictional or not), coffee-table books, and practical books.
How to declutter books with a story
Be honest with yourself: If you’ve already read the book, did you enjoy it enough to reread it? If you don’t remember what you thought of it, odds are it was not the book of the year. While searching for a book to reread, would you choose it in the middle of the books you know you liked? Or is it only clutter hidden in plain view with a beautiful cover?
If you haven’t read the book, will you read it? I know it can be exasperating to realize that you bought a book you’ll never read. But will keeping the book make you more eager to read it?
Do you still need the information in the book? Maybe it is about a hobby you don’t like anymore or some pasta recipes while you’ve found you’re intolerant to gluten. Do you use this book, or is it a memory of your past-you?
Is it up to date enough? For some subjects, like IT, content gets outdated quickly, and what was a good practice may become the thing to avoid. Is your book still accurate?
Do you have other books that contain the same information? In this case, you can only keep the book you prefer and get rid of the others.
The last question to declutter your books
You may think that you know how to declutter books but there is a last question. You like the books you kept and use them but are they worth the space they take? Wouldn’t it be better to have some white space on your shelf not to feel so overwhelmed when you look at it?
Don't forget your checklist!
Are you tired of running like a headless chicken each time you know someone is about to knock on the door?
Worry no more! Grab this checklist and be ready next time your friend want to stop by. You’ll even know what to do if they stay overnight.
But I still have too many books, what do I do?
Have you thought about an e-reader? Having one doesn’t mean you’ll have all of your books in a digital form. You can have both books and ebooks depending on how much you like them or how practical they would be in one form or the other.
For example, I chose to keep printed books for the novels I love, but the others stay nicely on my e-reader. My cooking books are also physical to be sure not to put water on my device when I cook. But my IT-related books are, in fact, ebooks.
What to do with decluttered books
Once you’ve decluttered your books, you need them to go away. There are several solutions. One of them is to ask your friends, neighbors, and family members. You don’t know who could like your books.
You can also put a few books in your local Little Free Library. Check this map to find the closest to you.
If the books are in good enough shape, you can donate them. There are a lot of charities that will make good use of your old books. Please contact them before your donation to know what their needs are. You don’t want your clutter to become their, don’t you?
Another solution is to resell them. You’ll get a part of your money back but be aware that it will take energy and time. First, you’ll need to list the books, then organize the meeting with the buyer or send them their items. Maybe you won’t find someone interested immediately, and you’ll have to keep the books in your house for a more or less long time. To avoid keeping the books too long, you can set a date after which you’ll deal with the books differently.
If your books are in bad shape and nobody wants them, the recycle bin is your final solution. At least they won’t end in landfills.
Are you ready to declutter?