When we put in our new flooring last year, I had to come to terms with my huge problem of book hoarding. As an avid reader and homeschool mom, books were my friend and who doesn’t want more friends, right?
Well, they take over, by droves. I can barely stand to look at the before picture of my dining room. It’s quite telling, so when Katie mentioned a Clutter Countdown post on books, I knew I couldn’t be the only person with this odd love affair. It’s still so hard for me to let go of books!!
These suggestions are invaluable!!
Katie here: Two years ago, you could have called me a book hoarder. My books were my treasure. I loved to bring them home; I hated the thought of parting with them. Living in a country where folks don’t even speak the same language (I’m in Germany) makes my English books feel even more sacred.
Then I found out I was pregnant.
I needed a way to part with the books I’d already read and the books that I’d probably never touch, because I wanted to fill our home with Dr. Seuss, adventure stories like Hatchet, and board books that I could share with my son in the coming years.
I basically went from about 500 books to 60 over the course of my pregnancy. Here’s how:
1. Without counting how many books you have, determine how many books you’d like to have.
Write the number in your journal or on a paper taped to your fridge. Then write any exceptions that don’t count toward this number. I wrote down: childhood books to share with our son, cookbooks, journals, and piano music.
2. Put all the books where you can see them.
Count how many books you have if you want. But don’t just keep everything in boxes or scattered throughout the house. Books that are stacked in boxes are easier to unintentionally hold onto than books on a shelf. When they’re scattered throughout the house, you won’t truly see how many books you have. For this project, you need them all together.
3. Focus on the size you want your collection to be, and pull out every book you know you won’t read again (or ever).
Your goal is to see how big you can make this pile. You can always put things back on the shelf later. But for now, just pull and pull. I knew my target was huge, so it made me ruthless. In less than 10 minutes, I was ready to part with 40 beloved books.
4. Every few days, scan the shelves again.
I was surprised to discover how many books I could keep removing from the shelves. I thought I was done! But then I’d see five or six books on the shelf that I knew I wouldn’t read again.
5. Mail the books you’ve loved to folks you love.
Good books deserve good homes. It’s easier to part with something when you’re excited about giving it to the recipient. Digging through the stacks of books I’d pulled, I made collections of books for all sorts of friends and family members. Media mail is cheap; everyone was thrilled with the surprise gift. One gal even decided to change her career direction because of a book I sent her. I wanted to go pull more books just to mail them!
6. Sell the books.
Used bookstores will often give you shop shop for books they can resell. A lot of people enjoy selling books on Amazon, too. I almost did this, but then I realized I didn’t want credit or more books right now. Plus, I wanted to do something more.
6. Donate books.
Small town libraries don’t have much. Neither do many school libraries. My mom is an elementary school librarian. They don’t have the budget for books like her students need, so she shops at the used bookstore. It’s nice to know your books are helping.
7. Read a fiction book, then let it go.
Early pregnancy left me exhausted, and I decided to enjoy it by reading. My new rule is that once I read a fiction book, it cannot go back on my shelf. It has to be shared. It has to be gone. Enjoy it, then share it.
8. Read what you have.
I’m always tempted by a visit to the library, the bookstore, Amazon, and ebooks. I have to keep telling myself no. I need to read the fiction I already have taking up space in my home. The nonfiction can probably wait, too.
So what about you? Do you love books too? Does this resonate with you?
What have you done about your “library?”
Continue reading more ideas from my “Clutter Countdown Challenge here.”
Storycatcher and award winning journal crafter Katie Clemons helps tens of thousands of folks document and celebrate their stories with her beloved mother child journals, personal diaries, and complimentary journal tutorials at Gadanke. The mother and entrepreneur has appeared on HGTV, given a TEDxTalk, and washed sticky finger prints off every appliance. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana, USA.