Books Are Clutter Too


I am a self proclaimed book lover. I was an English major in college. I belong to book clubs. I have a basement full of books. But my book shelves runneth over. Looking at my books I know I have to make another big sweep. I want to get rid of all of the bookcases in our basement and create a bar. In order to do that I need to make some tough book donation decisions.


I have gone through my cookbooks a few years ago and I only kept a few. This was an easy process for me as I usually find and store all of my recipes online. But now come the books. I have already pared them down over the years by getting rid of the paperback ones as that was an easy step for me. Now I recognize that I need to get rid of even more and make a jump into the hardcover ones.


The art of downsizing and becoming a minimalist isn’t always easy. I recognize the fact that I need to shed some books. I come from a family of book lovers. One whole wall in my parents house is bookshelves. I have a section in my basement dedicated to books. But I see my current habits of not returning to those books and they just sit on the shelves collecting dust that someone has to dust.


I am currently participating in an organizing challenge to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days. The time frame is lent and I am surprisingly having no shortage of finding a bag a day to get rid of. I think if my focus is on my books for the last two weeks of lent I could easily fill 14 bags.


But where do you start?


Books you will read again: These are the classics that you always turn to when you are in a reading slump. My husband has a whole set of sci fi books that he reads over and over again, or so he tells me. These are the books you keep.


Sentimental books: There will be a few books that you read to your children or were a part of your childhood that you can’t part with. Be mindful of the memory that they hold and keep only the very special ones.


Books you won’t read: Sometimes we have all the intentions in the world to read a book but it never happens. If you keep passing up the same stack of unread books, now is the time to get rid of that stack. Donate the stack without guilt, just get it out of your home.


Books you won’t finish: One of my New Year’s resolutions has been to read a book a week. So far I am on target but one of the ways I am making it through a book a week is I am going and reading books I haven’t finished. You know the ones that have the last 50 pages that you had the best of intentions to finish. It is surprising how many of those books I have. The good news is now I can donate those books when they are complete. If you look at those books and have no desire to finish, you now have another set of books to donate!


Donate all the paperback books: I did this a few years ago and it was easy for me to do as most of them did not hold sentimental value for me. I didn’t have to think emotionally about a book. If it was a paperback I donated it. I rid myself of a couple of boxes this way. For you it may be get rid of all the hardcover ones. It was a simple way to divide my books without thinking too much.


Visit your library: Chances are the book you are looking for can be found at your local library. Dust off your library card and start checking out your books again. Many libraries also allow you to check out eBooks so you can even check out a book in the middle of the night.


Limited space: Find a space to store your books and only allow what can fit in that space. Once it is full, some books need to go. You suddenly will be faced with making choices.


Pull out 20: If you could only take 20 books with you, which ones would they be? Start with those 20 books and work around donating the rest. When you have to choose your most favorite you will begin to realize that the rest don’t matter nearly as much.


Go on a book diet: Simply stop buying books. If I hear of a good book I download a sample to my Kindle. That is a way for me to remember the recommendation without purchasing the book. When I am ready for a new book I already have a list ready to go.


Give with purpose: I maintain that if you can find a donation place that resonates with you, you are more likely to donate. Find a school, friends of the library, assisted living facility or women’s shelter, that will gladly take your gently loved books and it will fill your soul up. I see “Little Free Libraries” all over my town. I may take a drive and start dropping them off. I just need to remind myself to not bring any new ones home!


So join me in sorting and donating your books. I realize books are like children and it is hard to decide to get rid of them. But remember they served a purpose one day and you read them. Now is the time to find a home where others can enjoy reading them.


To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

MS. Simplicity


Serving the Fargo-Moorhead area as well as North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Also seeking new representatives for Clever Container in all areas of the country.


3 Responses

  1. Adele

    I would like to comment that I have a large disagreement with part of your column today. I do find many of your suggestions for paring down a book collection to be very good and have already done many of them.

    I do not understand or agree with your logic on getting rid of all paperback books. To make a blanket statement like that seems to me to show ignorance. Do you think that they are worth less than hardcover books. Many books were never published in hardcover. Many are not available at the library. And lots of people find that hardcover books can be too heavy for aging hands to hold. My paperback book collection is filled with many wonderful books that I read over and over again and would not ever agree to try to choose just 20 books to hang onto. Even if I were moving across country I would take well over 100 books with me, as they are old friends that cannot be replaced.

    1. Just keep in mind that these are suggestions to get you started. Not steps in getting rid of books. I shared lots of different suggestions and it is ok if they don’t all work for each person. The goal is if you want to reduce your book collection, you need to start. My parents rarely get rid of books but hopefully I can convince them to start. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

  2. Marlys Higgins

    Enjoy your blog. You have helped me get inspired to get rid of stuff so many times. It makes me feel so much “lighter”, (hard to explain but the feeling is great)! Now 40 bags in 40 days would be a real challenge, but, I’m going to try that myself.
    Keep on bringing us your ideas, they’re great!

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