The Six Impossible Things To Do or Believe You Can Do To Declutter Your Books – (Maybe before breakfast, but lunch is also good. Or dinner. Alice may have been good at scheduling, but it might be a little early for some.) ~ Reference to Alice in Wonderland if you were wondering what I’m going on about.
Some people sneer, scoff, roll their eyes and get very cross at the idea of decluttering books. Which is fine if you have limitless bookshelves or storage for boxes of books that may or may not ever be read again.
Maybe though you are having problems with your book buying habit, i.e., you’re running out of room for new books. Perhaps the sheer volume of books you own is causing problems in your relationships. Or you have to downsize.
What ever the reason you are thinking of doing this horrifying, agonising task, fear not. There is always a way gentle reader.
1. Dust To Dust.
Your books may be pristine. No dust has ever sullied their pages, nor foxing dared to show it’s spotty face.
But you may have books that are behind other books. To read them, if you can remember what the titles are because you can’t actually see them, you have to move a photo of your Gran when she was young, three cat ornaments and an old postcard from Paris. Then you have to move the front row of paperbacks to expose the spines of the back row.
Maybe you have fluff bunnies down the back of your shelves, and what seems like inches of dust covering your least used books. (How many years has it been since you turned those pages?)
Dust and double rows are signs. Signs that those books are not used and have not been used for a looooooooooong time. Poor Books. Don’t you feel sorry for them, all untouched and gritty?
If you have books that are unused, it’s a sign. A sign that they might be a smidge easier to sort into the Let Go pile.
2. Circle Of Friends.
There will be books that you love with all your heart. Books you are fond of, that you love to flick through, or just touch. Then there will be books that are nice to have, just in case you need them.
And there will be books that are in your house simply because you bought them. Or someone gave them to you. And they’re, well BOOKS. They get added to your collection like the Borg assimilating another life form. They become One Of Your Books, a collective identity.
They are not Books That Are Friends. You may like to categorise them as old acquaintances that you’ve lost touch with.
These too might be a little easier to move into the Maybe Let Go pile.
3. The Collector.
Big or small groups of books, from huge libraries to small selections with very personal meaning are called collections. Serious or casual, catalogued and carefully stored or toppling piles in the living room, they have meaning to the person who collected them.
A complete series might be a collection. When I was a little girl I collected every single Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon book. Every single one in each series. Eventually my attention moved onto other series, and they became less important to me.
Even within a large and serious collection, there will be examples that were once pounced upon with glee, but have been replaced in the collectors heart by a glamour-puss in better condition.
A book or a series, even from a Collection, that no longer gives the collector joy might go into the Could Be Let Go pile.
4. How To Win Friends And Sell Books.
It’s true, the dusty, yellowed and spotty common paperback is tough to sell and even harder to give away. Depending on the subject and rarity of the book of course. (Get two or three professional opinions if you are unsure.) If you’re a keen buyer you may already have connections in the book seller world. If you don’t, and you’re determined to sell, make those connections.
Very occasionally, a book will be worth a bit. No matter how old it is, and how much we WANT our books to be worth lots, it’s pretty rare to get the kind of cash that’ll make you feel like you’ve won the lottery. Hence the word rare.
But you might get something. That thought can make it a little bit easier to move a book or two to the Could Go, Maybe pile.
5. The First Wave.
I truly hope that you’re not in the position of having to declutter your books in a hurry. It can be a good thing in some ways, but much better to take your time. If you’re under pressure to declutter, get professional help, all they care about is you.
If you want control over what goes and what stays, the time to start is now. You’re thinking about doing it for a reason. The last thing you want is for the choice to be taken out of your hands by lack of time, ill health or temper tantrums.
Do your book decluttering in waves, chunks of time or one small space at a time. Do a sweep of the slightly easier ones that could go. Sort out one book case into Keep, Donate, Sell. Or one shelf.
6. On The Road.
Perhaps you’re just interested in making a bit of space for the many, many books you’ll be acquiring over the year. But it’s really hard to make the decision, which should go???
Maybe you are downsizing. Maybe you’re moving to a smaller home, or going travelling. You have to make some hard decisions either way. So why not try this, instead of trying to decide what can go, start at the other end. What books would you keep.
I know, ALL OF THEM! Right? Maybe not. If you’ve read this far, a few titles, dusty series or boxes that you haven’t opened in years have popped, unbidden into your mind.
Now I want you to think of your go-to favourites. The titles you read and re-read. The covers you have on display so you can enjoy them. The precious ones you keep away from grubby little hands.
Those are your treasures, your Best Friends. The volumes you will always have with you, come hell or high water. The rest, they can be seen in a different light now. Compared to your Best Friend Books, maybe they can go, at least a few of them.
There are bucket loads of webpages, apps, blogs and yes, books on how to sell second hand books. Pop onto Google, find out what you’ve got and what it might be worth. Contact book sellers and libraries.
Be prepared to be disappointed though. If you make a little money, hurray!
Go to my Donations page here and scroll down to Books to find charitable organisations who do wonderful work with the money they make from selling your second hand books.
Remember though, you always have a choice, even if you don’t think you do.