One of the big problems for book lovers is that we tend to keep books for longer than we need, and are forever adding more to the pile. Books end up in piles everywhere – up the stairs, on bedside tables, on the floor and against the wall, and in my situation – even in boxes in cupboards! Pretty much anywhere but the bookshelves.
In order to not become a hoarder that appears on a Channel 5 documentary, it is necessary to occasionally get rid of some by one way or another.
When clearing your bookshelves, the questions you have to ask yourself depends on the nature of your bookshelves. For instance, my books are pretty much split into two camps: Those I will never get rid of and those I will get rid of (but I haven’t decided when). It is this second pile of books that I concentrate on, as I have already decided not to get rid of the other pile. Some people not long out of university may well have textbooks that could be sold (ebay or university second-hand shops) if they’re still relevant.
- Have I read this book yet? Did I love it enough to keep it? If “Yes” and “Yes” then it goes over to the “keep” pile. If “Yes” and “no” then it’s in the “go” pile.
- Do I still want to read this book? Am I likely to read this book in the near future? If “no” to either then it goes in the “go” pile.
- Have I started this book, failed to finish, and unlikely to attempt to go again? If this is the case, then it goes.
For those in the “to go” pile, there’s a number of ways I get rid of them.
- Give them to family members (mine primarily go to my sister)
- Add them to Bookcrossing, and then give to friends, or wild release them.
- When I was moving country a few years back, I donated books to my school library and to charity shops.
Getting rid of books gets easier the more you do it – for me registering a book on bookcrossing is no longer about looking for a “catch”, and is simply a nice way of finding out what happens to a book once it leaves my shelves.
After an “intervention” by my friends a few years ago, my books were down to one set of shelves, which were then ordered into general themes (e.g. all the same author, same genre). The last few years, however, have seen me read mainly ebooks, which has meant that whilst I am taking more books into the house, not as many are going out. This year I am making the effort to read more physical books, and getting around to releasing them. This is slow going, but I am getting there.
So how about you? Have you recently cleared out your bookcase, or are you overdue for a book spring clean? What do you think of my tips, and do you have any of your own?