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How To Declutter Your Books

If you’re a bookworm, decluttering your books must be a nightmare. I get it! How can you let go of the wonderful books that kept you company all those nights? How can you throw away books you haven’t even read? 

Well, if your house is a mess and the books on your coffee table, kitchen counter, bedroom nightstand, and so on, are becoming a hassle to dust and maneuver, well, I think it’s time to say goodbye to some of them. It’s for the best, I promise!

So, how to declutter your books, when you are so attached to them and you love reading? 

Let me help you out! I’ve gone through this process recently, when I moved in with my boyfriend and I had to start sharing shelf space with him. 

It took a couple of hours to sort through them and decide what to keep, but the surprise was it actually took me longer to get rid of those I didn’t want anymore. 

But let’s start from the beginning.

How To Declutter Your Books – Step 0: Go in it understanding that you have to get rid of some. There will be casualties. And you will have to be ruthless. But it has to be done, especially if you need more space…..for other stuff, or FOR OTHER BOOKS. (Yes, I recommend going through this process in order to free up space for more books).

Ok, now that you are in the right mindset, let’s begin! How to declutter your books:

Step 1: Clear up the space around you!

You might think this is not important, but this part is crucial, because you will have to make piles of books, and they will need a spot. So I suggest doing that on the floor space around you, or on the couch, or wherever else you want. 

Just make sure the coast is clear of objects, and most importantly, of any liquids (maybe even pets or kids?).

Step 2: Start sorting

This is the most time consuming part if you decide to declutter your books. You have to go through absolutely each one and see how you feel about it and in which categories it fits it. 

I suggest KEEPING the books that fall in the following categories:

  • RESOURCE. Keep books that have provided and will provide value & knowledge in the future, like dictionaries, technical books, encyclopedias, even biographies and history books, if you have any. Whatever you feel you will need to revisit for their information.
  • SENTIMENTAL. This is cheating, but it’s completely understandable. I don’t want you to give up on things that bring you joy. So yes, you can keep the Twilight and the 50 shades of grey books, and you can keep the really old children’s book from your childhood. Whatever you cherish. 
  • TO BE READ. If you haven’ gotten to it, but you desperately want to, and definitely will read, then keep it. But be honest with yourself. Will you actually read ALL the books you have? There must be some bad decisions in your bookshelves. Just keep the ones you are sure of.
  • LEGACY. This might be an interesting concept for you, but think about the books you want to leave your children, or your sisters, or to your family. These are books you have already read, but think they might be of service in the future for someone else. Like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, or your old copies of Count of Monte Christo that might be of value some days. 

Oh dear, the piles of books you will keep are going to be huge, I’m sure. I’ve created a monster. But this is the way of the bookworm 🙂 It’s ok!

Now let’s get to the ugly part! If you want to know how to declutter your books, you need to know what BOOKS YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY DECLUTTER:

  • NOT OF INTEREST TO YOU OR YOUR FAMILY. That means books that you or your family haven’t read or don’t plan to read. It could be books about IT hardware, or about topics you have absolutely no interest in, or biographies of people you haven’t heard of, for example. 
  • RANDOM BOOKS YOU HAD NO IDEA YOU HAD. I’m talking about books for which you immediately say WTF and discard immediately. Books that are so random, you don’t even know how they got there.
  • TBR THAT YOU WILL LIKELY WON’T READ. This might make you stumble, because you can’t really know if you’re really going to read the book or not. BUT, if you pick up a book you haven’t gotten to, and you already know you don’t want to read it or you have a suspicion you won’t, it’s definitely time to say goodbye.
  • TITLES YOU DIDN’T ENJOY READING. If you read something and you hated it, then there’s no point in keeping it, right? Easy declutter.  
  • BOOKS YOU OR YOUR FAMILY HAVE OUTGROWN. Think children’s books, if your kids are already teenagers (and you don’t plan on having another one…ever). Or highschool textbooks, if your kids are already adults. 

Step 3: Reorganize & Get rid of the unwanted books

Congratulations! The job is done! You’ve finished sorting through the books!

Now it’s time to reorganize your library. You probably have more space to play with, so think about how you want to organize your books. By color? Or author name? Maybe by category? I won’t get into details here, because that’s a topic for another blog post, but there are so many options, you just have to choose the one you vibe with the most.

So now we get to the last part and the one that’s going to actually declutter your home space: figuring out what to do with the decluttered books. I recommend the following :

  • Donate to charity shops / Goodwill. I always do this. I find the nearest charity shop that accepts books and I take them there. They are always so happy to receive them. Plus, you’ll feel better knowing it’s for a great cause.
  • Donate to the local library – town library or school library. This is also one of my favorite ways to get rid of books. Take it to the local library or school. This is a wonderful option because you’re taking them to a better place where it’s a safe bet people will actually read them….or at least keep them safe and in good use. 
  • Friends / Families. Sometimes, if I know I have some great titles in my declutter pile, I take a photo and send it to my Family and Friends Whatsapp chats. Many times before, people have requested a specific book they’ve been meaning to read. It’s lovely to pair a book with someone who actually wants it. 
  • Facebook Groups / Marketplace. If you want to make money out of it, definitely try to sell them on Facebook. People search for the most random things on there, so you might find buyers for books you didn’t even imagine are valuable or interesting. 
  • Yard Sale. If you get the chance, you can definitely try selling them in a yard sale. This way, you only have to take them outside the house, so no need to transport them somewhere else. 

So this is it! This is how to declutter your books! I hope you actually got rid of books, and that you cleared enough space for it to be cleaner and lighter (and to hold the next books you’re probably going to buy!

P.S. If you’re in a decluttering mood, here is how to declutter your wardrobe!

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Claris
    February 18, 2021 at 11:55 am

    As someone who constantly has books to sort through and has plans to do so in the near future, this post was especially helpful to read. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Reply
      Diana
      February 18, 2021 at 11:58 am

      You’re welcome, glad to help!

  • Reply
    Aditi Jain|itisaditijain.in
    February 18, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I really needed this. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply
    Megan
    February 18, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Great tips! I always go back and forth when it comes to sorting out books. This is a great guide. And I like that we can keep the sentimental ones! 🙂

    • Reply
      Diana
      February 19, 2021 at 9:20 am

      Yes, you definitely should1 Just make sure there aren’t too many sentimental ones 🙂 keep to 5-10.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    February 19, 2021 at 12:06 am

    I really need to do this with my books! I always have such a hard time actually decluttering my books though and getting rid of some, especially those TBR piles. So I appreciate these tips- now I can tackle the project soon!

    • Reply
      Diana
      February 19, 2021 at 9:19 am

      I totally get it, I was the same until recently, when I realized I have too many books and too little space! Thanks!

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