If you’ve gotten to the point where there isn’t room to fit your books next to each other anymore, so you’ve started stacking books on top of the filed books, then you might benefit from this post. If you hit that point seven years ago and that was back in the good, tidy days for you, then you definitely need this post. I’m like you - I suffer from having too many books and buying more before I finish the ones I already have and tripping over the stacks of books next to my bed. It’s spring, so I’m trying to help all of you (and myself) by telling you the best tips I’ve found on decluttering your bookshelves.
- Host/attend a book swap - This post on hosting a book swap will help you a lot. Basically, you bring the books you want to get rid of and you pawn them off on your friends and you put someone else in charge of handling all the ones that no one wants (since you’ll probably be unable to actually donate them like you’re supposed to). Downside: If you’re an openhearted person who wants to adopt ALL THE BOOKS, then you might come home with more books than you gave away. Remedy this by setting a rule that people can only take as many books as they brought - problem solved!
- Donate to your local library/used book shop - Most libraries and used book shops take donations and will be happy to accept anything you bring. Keep in mind these tips and you’ll be ready to donate like a pro. Downside: If you have a sentimental attachment to your books, this can be a lot like giving your books to the local orphanage and hoping a nice family takes them in and not the evil innkeeper who needs another maid (cue Cosette).
- Build a Little Free Library - Basically, a Little Free Library is a large birdhouse-esque thing that you stock with old books and let people come and take the books as they please. It gives you an opportunity to slowly get rid of books, promote reading in your community, and maybe get a few new interesting books in return. Downside: If you aren’t much for woodwork or nailing things together, this may not be your sort of project. The folks at Little Free Library offer an instructional video that may be very useful, though. You can also buy a library on their website.
- Give them to friends who you know will like them - It can be difficult to give books to friends. Sometimes they don’t want more books (because they have similar book-hoarding problems) or aren’t interested in the book you want to give them or just aren’t much of a reader. If you think that handing a book to your friend in person will go badly, then mail it to them (I’ve done this with mixed reactions). They won’t be able to immediately react in front of you, and if they live in another state, there’s a good chance that they won’t send the book back to you. Downside: Postage can cost quite a bit, though Media Mail can help bring those costs down a bit.
- Hide all your books under your bed - While this solution doesn’t actually get rid of your books, it moves them away from being stacked on top of and next to and against your bookshelf and it creates the illusion that you’re actually a very neat and uncluttered book lover. Downside: Whatever you’ve previously been storing under your bed will have to find a new home.
- Think outside the bookshelf - Before taking this step, you have to decide if you want to declutter your bookshelves or your entire house. We both know that decluttering your bookshelves is much for important, so this solution may work wonders for your shelves. Stop thinking of bookshelves as the only place to store books. Books can be stacked nearly anywhere - kitchen counters, desktops, window ledges, on chairs, on beds, in car trunks, on stairs, in cupboards, in the fridge, or really anywhere you’ve got a spare bit of space. Downside: You may have to prioritize a bit to decide what’s more important - keeping your breakfast cereal in the cupboard or letting Pride and Prejudice continue living there. I think we all know that P&P is going to win.
- Put your books to work - You paid so much for all these books - it’s time for them to earn their keep! Stacks of books can function well as all sorts of household furniture - chairs, end tables, desks, bed frames, basically anything you can think of. The bigger the novel, the better it’ll work as a base for whatever furniture it’s serving as. Downside: If you want to read the book on the bottom of the stack, you’re in trouble. Best to start with the one on the top and work your way down.
- Use/build a shed in the backyard to double as a library - If you’re near to having to move out of your house because the books have taken over, this may be your best option. If a shed isn’t large enough to hold your reading collection, then you may have to buy the property next door and build an entirely new house just to store your books. Just line every wall with bookshelves and you should have enough storage space for another year or two. Downside: You’ll have to leave your house to get a new book instead of reaching for the next one on your nightstand. It’s worth it for all the storage space.
- Burn them. I shudder to even type this, but for some people, desperate times call for desperate measures. This solution should only be implemented if you’re waging a losing war against the books in your home. Once you’re sure this is a step you want to take, read this article for tips on how to best burn your traitorous books. Downside: Beaten down and traumatized, you’ll suddenly emerge victorious - and realize that without the books, you were nothing.
Happy spring cleaning!:)