I was an Engish major in college. I have had to buy many books in my day. I still have many of the anthologies in my bookshelf and also many of the classics. I’m ready to take another closer look at my bookshelves and let the books go that are not truly loved or useful for me or our family in the present. This week I am decluttering the books.
Visiting the Library
My sisters and I spent hours in our local library when we were growing up. We checked out dozens of books and devoured them through the week. We didn’t own many books and getting a new book at Christmas was a special treat. Reading was and still is magical to me. I have fond memories of my whole family snuggled together around our fireplace reading the brisk afternoon away.
As a mom with voracious readers, we also frequently find ourselves at the library with dozens of books spread throughout the house. Books are truly amazing. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my boys quietly engrossed in a novel.
Books versus E-readers
We just recently bought a Kindle * (affiliate link – please see below) for my son. We’re still getting used to reading from a device versus having an actual book to hold and pages to turn, but there are distinct advantages to having an e-reader in our house. One thing I do know about myself and my older children is that we very rarely re-read books, so to buy or hold onto them is not necessary.
Rationalizations for Keeping the Books
The books that remain on my bookshelves are from distinct phases in my life: Undergraduate, Graduate, and Christian books. Here are my rationalizations as I was decluttering the books:
- I’ve held onto the academic books because I felt I “should”. Aren’t you supposed to hold onto those books after the thousands of dollars spent earning the degrees?
- Another thought is “I should know this information so I’ll keep it for reference”
My Christian books are dear to me, especially after becoming a new Christian in college, but I’m ready to let most of them go.
- One of my rationalizations for holding onto the Christian books was to share them with my children one day. As I sort, I’ll have to consider whether it is appropriate for my children to read now and share it with them, or whether I want to re-read the book in the next several months. If not, I’ll donate them.
As I’ve sat in my bedroom and considered the space, I’ve come to realize that bookshelves take up a lot of space – space I’d like to reclaim. I have plans to use two of our bookshelves in a different functional way for our household.
So, the business of sorting begins…
Are books hard for you to part with? How did you decide which books to keep and which to donate?
* This means that at no additional cost to you, I may get a small percentage of the sale if you buy through these links. Thanks for your support!
When we moved, we talked @ bookshelves–the largest BILLY from IKEA, to be precise–as our “measuring cup” for each person’s books. This was part of the shock experience of no longer having seemingly endless space for only two adults. Each of us has their bookcase in their bedroom (well, in my “dressing/clothes storage room”) so it’s a personal matter, what to do, when the books no longer can fit. A “no books in the basement” clause helped, but that, too, was a shock. We, like you, are spending a lot more time in the local library, and a lot of time walking there and back! A lot of priorities are getting re-ordered…like you say, by baby steps. My Kindle DOES help to “cheat” a little, for books of current interest that I can keep in a very compact format or else delete after reading…but I DO prefer a “real” book.
Good idea to edit when your things exceed your designated space! I don’t think it’s cheating to read books on kindles – it’s definitely a space saver! Thanks for reading and sharing!
I am a hoarder of books that I will read “some day.” Most of the books that are in boxes (no shelves on which to put them yet!) are ones that I’ve bought to read but haven’t yet gotten to unfortunately. Once I’ve finally read them though, I’m happy to pass it on to family and friends.
Books are wonderful! Make sure to make some time (5 minutes?) to read everyday Anna! Thanks for commenting.
I have such a hard time getting rid of books! And we are a family of book lovers-so they pile up. Fast. I try to keep a hold of the classic books for my kids, as well as their favorites so they can save those for their own kids someday.
But, I must say, that I have piles of Christian books and leftover college textbooks that I know I can safely part with. I just haven’t gotten there yet 😉
Hi Gina! I just tried to put all the children’s book in one bookshelf and they don’t fit! I think I’ll make it a regular practice with the kids to find out from them which ones they want to keep and slowly donate the ones they’re done with. There’s a great organization near us that we can give the children’s books to. I know they’ll go to great use – which makes it easier to let go.
I have been blessed with almost endless space for books and then had to cut down to 5 – 2foot shelves! With great libraries I visited regularly to twice ones that didn’t really want you to check out books and didn’t have much of interest anyway. I have learned… I like to save real paper copies of books I liked so I can reread or share with friends “because they should read them”. These are mostly Christian books so… I started a library at our church and donated them. Now they are more readily accessible to me and my friends. Also I get to read what others had. I can take a friend from church back and pick out something they are looking for on a topic., pick up something for a friend that doesn’t go to our church or reread one of my favorites (okay, I did keep my very favorites). This helped a lot. I use my Kindle for three types of books: 1) easy relaxing reads I download for free from Amazon using Book Bub set for Christian to find the free ones and notify me daily. Then I can download if I am interested. After reading I have the option of deleting. 2) my absolute very favorites that I may want to pick up and any moment and search for a quote. Gives me the option of highlighting and bookmarking and oh the space savings! 3) Reference books so I can find them easily, they are less expensive and I have room to keep many more books that I will hardly ever use but when you want/need it it’s available.
Oh- that endless space was an interior room of a house we built… my husband left the walls uncovered with sheet rock/ dry wall, just the two x fours. Then he had a stack of pieces cut the space beteen them and let me set how far apart I wanted them for book shelves. While it had an unfinished look at first, I filled in the walls with books, basically by topic, alphabetical and within size, so a shelf here and there for the extra tall photo albums and table books… I love thrift stores and yard sales… the best place to acquire and a good place to recycle books.
If you have a bad library (ie one that doesn’t carry your reading interests) see if they are a member of the Interplan Bank. I can find specific unusual books on line, order them through the loan system, then if they were a keeper, go back and buy it.
My books were the most difficult thing to get rid of when we moved overseas. Some I had re-read many times. Others came along during various moments in my life. But I did it. And the woman who scored the entire set of Wheel of Time (in hardpack) had a big smile on her face. Like you, I have a kindle and I have mine loaded. Some of the books used to grace my shelves. I find I enjoy them just as much in digital format.
That’s great Lydia. Moving really helps us release things out of necessity! I’m glad you can still enjoy those books on your kindle!
Roberta J Smith says
I am absolutely overwhelmed and feel defeated even before I begin. I will certainly try some of your advice and take baby steps. Thank you!
Roberta, thanks for commenting. I know that overwhelming feeling. Yes, take baby steps – just one thing – and the next step will be just a bit easier. Be encouraged that you are not alone as well. There are many of us on this journey!
It has always vaguely bothered me that my one-of-a-kind treasured children’s books in various genres and from various cultures isn’t getting much exposure to, well, children. My Sunday school space has recently expanded, as has the number of children and the age range (K-4th grade) so I am pretty excited to start a lending library of good thought-provoking books at various reading skill levels for them, to read in a quiet in-between time waiting for parents or to check out and enjoy at home. Talk about a win-win! Maybe even a win-win-win-win, as families have access to books not easily found in “regular” libraries, and authors long out-of-print in some cases get a whole new exposure…besides my freeing up a book shelf and my SS children getting something fresh and new.