Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Yes, I’m Asking You to Get Rid of Your Books

Yes, I’m Asking You To Get Rid Of Your BooksIf I asked you to declutter your books, would your first reaction be horror? Books are the single most controversial category of any decluttering project, whether it’s home or office. For some reason, we can’t bear the thought of getting rid of our books, even if we rarely pick them up and read.

Books hold a sacred space in our hearts, and in our homes. But it’s important to recognize that books can, and should, be decluttered with every other category in your home.

Why is it that books are so difficult to part with? Maybe it’s because books hold so much knowledge. Maybe it’s because they can take us to new and exciting worlds. Or maybe it’s because books can be comfortable friends in hard times. Maybe it’s all three.

But books are just objects, and we shouldn’t let them have some supernatural hold on us when it’s time to clear away the excess. Unless it’s a one-of-a-kind volume or a first-edition autographed copy, it can be easily replaced. Or even better, borrowed, should the need arise.

Pass them on

The best way to part with the books you’re finished with is to pass them along to someone else. Give them to a friend who’d appreciate them or pass children’s books along to younger friends. It’s so much fun to enjoy a special book and then share it with someone you love.

Passing books on singly can take forever, especially if you have a lot to unload or there isn’t anyone you think would enjoy or use them. There are fantastic ways to pass on books in bulk in ways that will still be meaningful.

My favorite way to pass along books is to the local library. I have a special place in my heart for libraries — one of my first jobs as an adult was as a marketing editor and designer in a metropolitan library, and I loved it. Libraries are often looking for funding, so donations of books are much appreciated. Books that can’t be added to the library’s collection are often sold in used book sales for library funds.

Sell them

Do you have some rare or expensive volumes you no longer need? Selling could be a good option, either to a local used bookstore or online to a collector. There are websites where you can list your books for sale using the ISBN and set your own price. Textbooks that are current and in good condition can be sold to students or student bookstores.

Recycle

I know, the mere mention of trashing books is sacrilege, but hear me out. Some books are just too worn to pass along or sell, maybe missing pages or with a broken spine. Some books are out of date, with outdated information that is no longer useful. Think of those old sets of encyclopedias in the attic. There are much easier ways to get more accurate information that pawing through old encyclopedia volumes. In these cases, recycling may be the better option.

Kids books

Kids go through books almost as fast as they outgrow clothes, especially if your kids are avid readers. A wonderful place to donate children’s books are school libraries, after school or church programs, and preschools. Kids’ books take a beating, so these places are always looking for replacements.

Go digital

So you still want to keep “all the books!” There IS an easy way to have your books and easily store them too. I love books as much as anyone (I am a writer after all), and I’ve chosen to go mostly digital with my books. I lost many of my hard copy books in a house fire, and it was a great comfort to realize that my Kindle library was untouched. Since then, I’ve defaulted to the safety and security of digital books. You can read more about my house fire, as well as how others have been impacted by similar tragedies, in this guest post I wrote for Becoming Minimalist.

With the variety of e-readers available, it’s easy to find one that is a comfortable read for you. I read almost everything on an iPad Mini, which is my constant companion. I went Mini so it would fit in my purse but still be large enough to read comfortably. The screen is about the size of a standard paperback, plus I can adjust fonts, text size, even the color of the background, to suit however I’m feeling. I can still highlight lines with the benefit of being able to unhighlight at any time. I can make notes or add bookmarks. The simplicity and minimalist nature of digital appeal to me on every level.

It’s an incredible marvel to me that I can carry an entire library, hundreds of books, in one device. Add in the security of backing up books to the cloud and the eco-friendly nature of going paperless, and I’m hooked on digital.

Do I still have paper books? Of course! A few favorite volumes, autographed copies from many of my favorite writers and author friends, and books I expect to read and pass along. I love libraries — the smell of the older books and the nostalgic feeling I get wandering the stacks. Sometimes, the greatest pleasure is cracking open a new book. But let’s not put books up on some pedestal that can’t be decluttered.

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2 Replies

  1. We built a little free library for our neighborhood and I often offload books there. I also pass books on to people I think my enjoy them, with the instruction not to return them. I’m an avid reader, I keep some favorites and have a stack I haven’t yet read, but I agree that books can be clutter like anything else.

    1. I love those little free libraries! Such a fantastic way to pass on your books!

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