Rule: Keep only as many books as will fit on your shelves
If you have more books than can fit on your shelves. It’s time to take a hard look at your attachments and figure out how to let some go.
Unless it’s a collectable or has deep sentimental value, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel like I paid a lot of money for this book and won’t be able to recoup my losses?
- Does having these books make me feel like an expert?
- Do I long for the days when I read with my children?
- Will I ever really have the time to catch upon the amount of reading I have stored here?
- Could I easily get this book at the library if I really needed it in the future?
As with many of the items in our home, we hang onto more than we need because of emotional attachments. Being aware of this pull can help you loosen your grip and reduce your clutter.
You have 3 basic options for books you don’t need:
1.) Give your books a new life. Donate to your local Friends of the Public Library, thrift stores, or recycling center. Sometimes, you can even get a library volunteer to come pick them up for you.
2.) Resell the books yourself. Shop them at your local used bookstore, on Craigslist, on eBay or even on Amazon. Though the ratio of books to cash can be quite low, it you have the time and energy, you can get something for them.
3.) Find someone to sell books for you. You can locate an eBay reseller or your local estate liquidator may have contacts for local book dealers.
While you are looking to make some money from your collection, don’t lose sight of the value of your own time when you take on a book-selling project.
Part of letting go of information is trusting that the resources will be available to you when you need them. And, who knows? You might even make a new friend while searching the library bookshelves for Moby Dick.
What has helped you declutter your bookshelves? Let us know!
Do you really want your home to turn into a library?
Books, CDs, toys, clothes, office supplies…how do you decide how much is enough?
Facing the challenge of purging any collection can be daunting. How can you bear to let go of things you still like or are still useful – even when they make your home feel cluttered?
If you’re having trouble setting boundaries around certain types of items one tactic we find useful is “Container As Arbitrary Limiter”. The idea here is to make a firm decision about where a collection is going to live and use that defined space to set the boundary on how much to keep.
Let’s take books as an example. Many people love their books and hate parting with them. Clearly, books live best standing up on shelves. So the available bookshelves in the house can be the “container” in this case. When the number of books owned overflows the available shelf space, a decision has to be made either to add more shelving, or get rid of some books! Which choice you make is up to you – it’s your home and you get to decide how much wall space is dedicated to storing books.
Do you have lots of great books that won’t fit on the shelves? Probably! But limiting the collection to ONLY what will comfortably fit on your shelves is an arbitrary way to set a boundary for yourself.
Setting a clear boundary that your book collection has to fit in the available space helps clarify why you are purging.
- Making conscious choices around limits is important if you want less clutter in your home.
- Having a clear limit helps objectify the purging process a little.
- Honoring those limits is a way of respecting your values and goals around how you want to live in your home.
If the collection starts to expand outside the boundaries of the shelves and you find there are books on the floor, coffee table, wedged into every available gap – that is a sign that you either need to re-assess the collection or redefined the limits.
If it’s difficult to determine when your collection is maxed out, a container provides objective feedback, letting you know how much is too much.
Read our related post: Aack! I can’t get rid of anything!