Sunday Salon: Bookcase Spring Clean

The Sunday Salon badge

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.

So I look at a book in the to go pile and ask some questions:Book Buffet Table

  • 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?



19 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Bookcase Spring Clean

  1. I took a lot a of books to a charity shop a couple of weeks ago and it pained me a bit (what if I change my mind and DO want to read it again? What if I enjoyed it more than I remember?), but they were genuinely pleased to receive them in the shop and that made my day. Definitely worth it!


  2. I didn’t know about bookcrossing. I’ve mostly bought paperbacks that I’ve read or browsed through repeatedly. Then when I got my Kindle a few years ago I started reading lighter stuff. Yes, the Kindle actually added so much variety in my reading life 🙂 The only fluffy, one-read books I buy in paperback and British chick lit books, because they tend to change the language when they publish them for an American audience. These books I don’t care to keep. Thought of giving them to youth hostels. I will actually do that soon.


  3. We did a book purge a few years ago and then another one last year after reading Marie Kondo’s book. Basically, we did what you did, but asked ourselves: “Does this bring us joy?” If not, then it went and we haven’t regretted any of our decisions…so far.


    • it’s such a seemingly simple question, but people can find no end of stress to it….(Sometimes I watch the program “Hoarders” and swear “that will never be me!”)


  4. I did a thorough cleaning of my bookshelves last spring – donating 17 bags of books to the local library. And now, one year later, I need to do it again!

    I’m not complaining though… I am blessed to have space for books and time to read them – and I look forward to blessing others 🙂


    • I will need to do it again soon – there have been too many additions over the last 18 months or so. I will read most of them, honest!


  5. We have a terrific and huge book fair in St. Louis every year that supports day care for working families. That makes it easy for me to give away books for a good cause. Thanks for the reminder–I need to get a box over to them so that the books make it into this year’s fair.


  6. I think of 2015 as the Year of the Great Book Purges, as I carried away books (to the library, to charity) in several great hauls, completed over a few months.

    I never put books I have not yet read on a shelf, except now I have a TBR shelf in my office, with just a handful of books. I would never be tempted to give away those books…unless I decided that I would never, ever read them.

    I had 1435 print books at the beginning of last year, and now have around 400. I haven’t done an exact count recently, but judging from the huge stacks I took away, I know I got rid of several hundred.

    It is funny, though, because a couple of years ago, I was all about buying new shelves to accommodate my burgeoning stacks of books. LOL.

    Good luck, and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES


  7. i’ve just put a pile of about 20 books to one side ready for a book sale I am organising next month in aid of funds for a new community library. In the past I took them to the charity shop. My problem is that I put them in the go pile, my husband spots them and invariably cries “i might want to read that’….


  8. I’m the odd one out here, because I’m an avid reader who doesn’t actually own any book-I’m a library nerd and get all my books from the library 🙂 Besides being totally free (besides the occasional overdue fine, lol), it also really simplifies things!

    I currently have a neat stack of 5 books by my reading chair, 2 books in my book basket (to be returned to the library), and then my Kindle has 4 ebooks loaded from my library’s ebook collection. I love how organized and stress free it all is 🙂


    • wow, well done you! I hate to think of how many books are on my shelves at the minute, but suspect it’s over 500……(and I’m nowhere as bad as some of my friends, I know that!)


  9. I’m working on a Master’s degree right now, so my cleaning method has been go through all of my books at the end of the semester and sell them at McKay’s (basically a giant used media warehouse straight out of my dreams). The questions I ask myself are normally related specifically to classes, so I have a stockpile of books I haven’t even looked at in who knows how long to go through. I think your questions are very helpful ones. Normally my tip for too many books is “get another bookshelf,” but I have officially run out of space for shelves and realized that’s pretty terrible advice. 🙂


    • It’s only good advice whilst it works!

      Hopefully you’ll get to something like a reasonable standpoint sometime in the future – dont know what that looks like as I’ve never got there!


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