There comes a time when book lovers must face an unspeakable truth.
There simply isn’t enough space on their bookshelf for every book that want to own. Which, of course, leads to the dreaded solution of getting rid of some of them.
It can be a daunting task. Choosing what unread books to finally give up on, which recent reads aren’t worth the room. I myself recently unhauled about 30 books from my library. Hopefully some of these tips will help you next time you decided to do a little spring cleaning.
1. Make a goal for the number of books you want to shed.
If you’re currently sporting a shelf with 200+ novels, but know you wanna cut that back by at least forty, keep that in mind as you’re going through your shelf. Still, be open to get ridding more than that if need be.
2. Don’t keep books just for the sake of it.
Yes, we’re bookworms, we’re collectors. I get that you don’t want to part with something that’s been with you for months, maybe even years. But unless you have a viable reason for keeping a book, I recommend getting it into the hands of someone with actual use for it. How do you know if your reason is viable? See #3.
3. Ask yourself some tough questions.
This may sound a bit dramatic, but really question why you feel the need to keep a book. Some things you might want to ask yourself:
- When was the last time I thought about this book?
- If I’ve read this book, did I enjoy it enough to hold onto it?
- If I haven’t read this book, can I really see myself reading it in the future?
- Would I notice if this book was missing from my shelf?
- Does keeping this book make me feel a little ridiculous?
Hopefully these questions help to narrow town your search.
4. Make a “Next Victims” portion of your library.
Sounds more Criminal Minds than bookaholic, but what it basically means is set aside a few books on a certain part of your shelf to keep yourself accountable. If you haven’t read these books by the time you’re gearing up for the next unhaul, they should be the first books you give away next.
5. Think about how good it will feel when you’re done.
As much as I love collecting books, shedding that dead weight can feel amazing once you bite the bullet and get it over with. It may seem sad at first, but you’re making space so you fill your shelf with newer, even shinier, reads.
6. Invite a buddy over to help.
I know that Mia and I over at Pen and Parchment usually collaborate when it’s time for either of us to clean out our shelves. The other day, I helped her get rid of over 70 books on her shelf! And she helped me make some tough decisions about mine, too. Friends can assist in being more objective and ruthless over your bookshelf.
7. Finally, brainstorm some places to take your old books.
Once you’re done parting with your old friends, here are a few options to turn to:
- You could drive your books over to a secondhand bookstore nearby, a hospital, a foster home, library, a recreation center, even prisons or juvenile detention centers are in need. There are, and I say this literally, hundreds of places that need books that are wishing for people like you to come around and offer some.
- You could sell your books online with sites like eBay or Depop. (But remember, no ARCs!)
- You could host a giveaway on your online platform if you’re into that type of thing.
- If your books are in good condition, you could give some to friends or relatives you think would love them. Nothing better than the gift of a fantastic read!
- There are hundreds of nonprofit literacy organizations that work to get books shipped to disadvantaged readers in developing countries. As someone who spent most of their life living outside the US, I can confidently say that most libraries, if they exist at all, are sorely understocked, and organizations like these go a long way to help that.
If you’re interested in finding international organizations to get books in the hands of disadvantaged bookworms you can visit the International Book Giving Day website and check their sidebar for a far from comprehensive list of places to start. Unfortunately, shipping can be pricey, so if you can’t swing it, giving to local places is always appreciated!
Personally, I’m planning on donating some of my unhauled books to Books for Africa, and the rest, I’ll be taking to my local Goodwill drop off.
Do you have a certain system for unhauling books? About how often do you clean out your bookshelf? What do you do with your unhauled books? Tell me in the comments! 🙂
P.S. Mia wrote a similar post last year, so if you’re looking for a different perspective, check it out!