Making Space for Pretty- Purging Books

by Robin Turnipseed

If you are following along with my Making Space for Pretty summer declutter, you know I am working on the second project out of eleven. The first week I thoroughly purged all my clothing and cleaned out my closet, and this week, I focused on tackling all the books in my home.

If you are new here, you may want to go back and read my introductory post, which reveals that this entire venture came to fruition due to the loss of my favorite headband.

Remembering My Why

So here I am, two weeks into an eleven-week endeavor, and I need to admit something: this week’s project took longer than initially anticipated. Surprisingly, I own more books than I thought, and I adore my books. I know that I am not alone in this statement. I collect books like some collect shoes. They are like old friends, so letting go is a little tricky. So, I was dreading doing the actual work. However, I knew this area needed addressing if uncluttered spaces were my end goal.

Once again, I grabbed my sorting supplies: a timer, a donation box, and a resell box, which I took that week to our local McKay’s Used Bookstore.

10- Step Guide to Effortlessly Purging Books

If you are cleaning out your books, too, here are a few things to remember:

1. Remember the Container Concept. During my Closet Clean Out, I referenced The Container Concept taken from Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff. Author Dana K. White challenges readers to consider everything a container; items need purging when the container is full. Just like houses, bookshelves are containers.

If books lay stacked on each other or are in piles where you cannot view the ones hidden in the back, it may be time to reevaluate.

2. Gather ALL the Books. Yes, all of them. Initially, I had intended on only purging the books in my office and bedroom but then realized that would mean more than one trip to the donation center or the used bookstore. I loathe taking multiple trips, so it is worth going to each room to gather and sort them all.

3. Grab Windows of Time Where You Can. This project does not take as long as you think. You can sort quite a bit in a ten-twenty-minute time frame. Don’t get held up by the notion that there isn’t enough time. There is time, but you may not find it in large blocks but in smaller sections. Be intentionally focused with the small amounts of time you DO have.

4. Don’t Think—Just Act. Going with your gut works wonders in this situation. I found that if I focused too long on a book, holding it and reading the back cover, the more likely it was that I kept it, even though in my heart, I knew that it just consumed space where something a little more valued could rest.

5. Employ the All Hands on Deck Approach. Give everyone a box and send them to their rooms to sort their books. Honestly, they surprised me by all that they offered up to be donated. My nine-year-old deemed many of her books “babyish,” which freed up quite a bit of space. Note: if you have a bookworm, you may need to help them decide which ones to keep and which to donate.

6. Don’t Let Nostalgia Hold You Captive. While cleaning our former homeschool library, I came across a stack of Curious George books. I immediately recounted the mornings I held my babies as we read through them.

For a moment, I pulled them out of the donation box I originally placed them into; however, I knew that keeping all of them would not bring back those special times. I had my memories, so I kept one and put the rest in a box for someone else to read as they rocked their littles.

7. Double Check Your Duplicates. This action may seem commonsense, but I found at least five books where I owned both a hardcopy and a Kindle version. Donate the physical one to free up space and go electronic.

8. Know Thyself. Honestly, answer this question: “Will I ever read, or re-read, this book?” You may be the person who re-reads books. I am that person as well. For example, I read through the entire Mitford series annually, so I ensured those stayed in their rightful place.

9. Tackle the Games & DVDs. Again, save yourself a trip to the donation drop-off or used bookstore since most also take and sell DVDs and games. The trick will be to avoid using the credit or money for more books!

10. Break the Cycle. Engage the one-in-one-out principle in this area as well. Make a deal with yourself that you will read the ones already awaiting you before you purchase a new book. I will make that same deal as well.

Final Thoughts

Once again, don’t forget to make sure not to cart donation boxes or bags around in your car for a month. They do not need a tour of your town.

I hope you love your cleared-off bookshelves as much as I do! Through this process, I discovered so many unread biographies and novels. The question is now, which one do I read first?

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