How to Declutter your Bookshelves

If you’re a book lover, you know how easy it is for your shelves to get out of control (along with your TBR). I recently moved from my family home into a flat in London, and was faced with the overwhelming prospect of downsizing my massive book collection. In one day, I managed to purge over a hundred books from my shelves (and the other random piles around my room). It was such a nice feeling to free up some space as well as knowing that my books will go onto a better home. Here’s my tips if you want to do the same:

Set aside a time for doing it

I’ve put off decluttering my book collection for years. And I mean years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever got rid of any of my books before, and I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. Even when I knew I was moving into my flat, I put off downsizing my book collection until literally 2 days before the big move. Going through your shelves properly takes at least a few hours (not to mention physical effort), so you really need to plan to dedicate a morning or an afternoon to do it.

Make separate piles on the floor

For me, there were 3 categories to class my books into: take with me, leave at home, and give to charity. Maybe you’re planning to sell some of your old books – great, make a separate pile on the floor for that category too. Having the different categories laid out visually from the offset will make it easier to sort through your books.

Get rid of books you don’t like

This may seem like an obvious one, but I found a lot of books on my shelves from years ago which I remember not liking very much, and which had just sat stagnant for all that time. As Marie Kondo would ask: does it spark joy? Obviously books that you didn’t like don’t spark joy – so get rid of them!

Will you reread it?

I’ve read and enjoyed so many great books, all the while knowing that I will never reread them. Some people don’t like to reread books, and that’s fine, but it’s something I love to do with my favourites, so if I were to be really ruthless in narrowing down my collection, I would only keep the books I think I’ll reread at some point.

Will you ever read it?

This one was a big one for me! I had a lot of books I’ve bought over the years and never read still piled up on my shelves in the vain hope that I’ll one day get to them. If you were really interested in that book, wouldn’t you have read it by now? If you’ve had a book on your shelf for a year and you still haven’t read it, chances are you never will. Give it to somebody else who will.  

Multiple copies

You really don’t need more than one edition of a book. Whilst I’m one to talk, because my shelves are full of different beautiful editions of the same classic books, you may have duplicates for some other reason. For example, I had a few battered copies of Pride and Prejudice which I’ve gathered from various charity shops over the years, so I gave them all back to charity and kept my favourite.

If this book was stolen from you, would you miss it?

Sometimes, asking yourself if you will read/reread the book isn’t enough to make you assess whether you would actually notice if it was gone. One trick I use is to pick up a book in my hand and ask myself if I’d feel its loss if it was taken away from me against my will. For example, I’d be devastated if my original Harry Potter collection was lost, or if my copy of The Count of Monte Cristo went missing, because they both hold a lot of sentimental value for me. But that battered old copy of A Game of Thrones? I wouldn’t be too concerned.

Use an e-reader

Investing in a Kindle has been something which has massively improved the amount of clutter on my shelves. If I like the look of a book, but I don’t particularly like the cover, or I don’t feel like it’s something that will become one of my all-time favourites, I now buy it on Kindle. If I do end up loving it, there’s always an opportunity for me to buy a copy for my shelves later down the line. But half the time, I don’t bother. That keeps those spaces on your shelves open rather than cluttering them up with books you’d just have to get rid of in the future.

Use your local library

Similarly, using your local library cuts down the amount of books you’re putting onto your shelves – and even better, it’s totally free! Again, there’s always the chance to buy your own copy if you love the book. But most of the time, I guarantee you’ll give the book back to the library and feel no different than you would if the book was sitting on your shelf.

1 comment:

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