Two words I never thought I would utter. Who would want to get rid of any books anyway? Books can be comfortable, comforting and it’s nice having them around.
But now I’m on this mission to reduce the number of possessions I/we have in our home.
I’ve read numerous books on de-cluttering. I even didn’t buy one or two. I borrowed them from the online Toronto public library. I got all self-righteous and was all, “Wooo, look at me, borrowing books and not buying them,” and then I bought another one (or two). Oops.
Marie Kondo recommends you pull all of your books from their shelves and put them in the middle of the floor, handle each one and keep the ones you choose. I can’t do that. For a start, it would take me a week to pull all the books out, and if I handled every one following that, my family wouldn’t see me for days.
Other methods suggest you periodically go through them and keep those that still ‘speak’ to you. Or get rid of the ones that you have had for too long and never opened.
All of these are good methods but I have found none of them precisely fit for me or really rang true with what I wanted to do.
I was trying to think of an analogy and I came up with this. It’s like grabbing a handful of sand. Some people are happy to dump the whole lot out, some will let it trickle quickly through their fingers. Me? I like to let it trickle slowly through my fingers. It make take longer, but to me, the feeling is better. I purge a few books and that feels ok. I let a few more go and that’s ok too. I’ll still reduce the number of books I have significantly but sometimes you have to let a little go at a time and more will follow.
In the end (or not the end), maybe more accurately, to date, I have ejected an incredible number of books from my home, on many subjects. At the last count I have removed over 200 books. I still feel like I have too many. I will try to keep the trickle going.
Considerations on why I’m keeping them have come from a variety of sources and have really made me examine who I am and where I am heading (apart from to bed to read a book).
Why am I keeping this book?
1) I think about if I am actually going to read or re-read the book. There are some books I know with absolute certainty I will read again. Those I keep.
2) Books with knowledge and information in them that I still use. I have some on gardening, for example.
3) Books that I recently purchased but haven’t read yet (there are a lot but I’m trying not to add to the pile).
4) Books that I read as a child and I’m hoping my kids will enjoy when they are old enough. These are keepers.
I had old university books and books from classes I have taken. Let’s face it, I’m never going to read them again. It’s doubtful I read some of them to start with, despite them being required reading! OK, so I haven’t actually ejected the ones from the environmental management course I took, but I will.
‘Classic’ novels. I have chucked a few, feeling like it was sacrilegious. Let’s face it, being a classic, doesn’t mean we have to like it. If I’m not going to re-read it, why am I keeping it?
One thing I really thought about was if I was keeping a book because I thought it projected an image about me, whether or not that image was true. Do I keep books because it makes me look well-read? Not a comfortable thought but it helped me toss a few. Categorized under ‘don’t be a pretentious _____ (fill in the blank)’.
Some books I bought at a different time in my life, thinking with absolute certainty that I would read them. I was hanging on to them because I hadn’t really considered if I still felt the same way. To my surprise (well, not really) there where some that I didn’t even want to read. Our tastes change, our interests may take a slightly different direction and books we once thought fit us, no longer seem to have as much relevance.
What to do With Your Books
I have donated books to various places. I love books and I really want the books I give away to fall into the hands of someone who will love them too.
Sometimes I post books on local Mums’ facebook groups. For things like parenting books that are not useful to me as my kids get older, this is a good one. Or sometimes I have a box with a topic theme and I post that to see if anyone is interested. Someone recently came and picked up a box and was planning to ship them to her sister in Calgary.
I took some art books to the local retirement home. I had asked if they wanted novels but they tend to need large print books. I had a pile of hard back art books that I never looked at anymore, so hopefully they can be enjoyed by the seniors living there.
There is a local bookshop, The Great Escape, that I have taken books to. They seem to like paperback fiction the most and children’s books (as long as they are in good shape). That way you can get either money or, even better, book credit at the store. No, no, just kidding, no more books (for now).
I have given a few books to the school my kids go to. Mostly just age appropriate for the class they are in at the time to their teachers.
I often take a big pile of books to Value Village if I’m feeling overwhelmed and want to just get them out of the house. It’s not my first choice but at least they get a new home.
There are other thrift shops I want to visit too, I don’t want to donate a bunch of books to a small shop and then have them stuck with stuff that isn’t sellable in their location.
All these ideas will be in my resources section, once I start it. (What Do I Do With My Stuff??)
Let me know if you have any other ideas on book decluttering.
Emma Nicholson is mostly a stay-at-home Mum to her two boys. While they are at school she is an SEO aficionado (but only for her husband’s website) and dabbles in photoshop. Her other passions include gardening and trying to save the world by using less plastic while staying true to herself and de-clutter the family home.
By writing this blog she hopes to build up a list of local resources to help cut down on stuff going in landfills and live a more sustainable life while figuring out a way to be more content.
Emma grew up in Scotland and now lives in Toronto, and despite having a Masters degree she still has a bit of an inferiority complex, coming from a family full of people with PhDs and various other heady accomplishments. Oh, and she also did an Environmental Management certificate with UofT and some sewing classes because why not?