Lately, I have put myself on a book buying ban for a number of reasons! The most important being that I already have so many books that I want to read that I can’t possibly keep up if I continue to add more to that pile. The second most important being my bank account. I want to save some money now and then be able to go and buy new books that I am actually excited about when I am comfortable with my TBR pile.
What this led me to was a realization that I have many books that I really have no desire to read, and that there are lots of people in the world that have tons of books and feel the same way that I do!
Don’t get me wrong, I want a home library (only slightly smaller than this one from Beauty and the Beast) just as much as the next person, but right now, it isn’t feasible. Over the past few years, I have really learned how to share and pare down my bookshelves. I used to hoard books like crazy, still do to an extent, but I have learned how to use the space I have and read what is important to me.
I want to help you do the same!
It is my honest belief that if you want to make a change, no matter how big or small, it needs to start with some reflection. If your goal is to pare down your bookshelves, or even reorganize your books, you need to first reflect on the space that you have.
I have a large bookcase as well as a couple small piles of books in my room. The space you have and what you are willing to do outside of that space will determine how many books you end up keeping.
Now that you have thought about space, think about the books in front of you. Which ones did you really enjoy? What are you likely to reread? Which titles are an absolute must keep? Which ones have significant value in your life? Separate those ones from the pile in question and come back to them later if you must.
Look at the pile of books you have left. Of the unread ones, think about what you are still hoping to read and which ones you will honestly never get to. I was shocked when I realized how many books I had on my physical shelves (and my Goodreads shelves) that made no sense. I didn’t know why I bought, collected, or stored them because I had no desire to read them. The books you won’t get to are ready to be passed on.
Of the books you are still hoping to read, spend some time looking through the covers and synopses and think about how long you have kept it on the shelf already. Which ones elicit mediocre excitement? Which ones elicit genuine excitement?
Make piles of these different categories!
Now that you have multiple piles (must keep, can pass on, still hoping to read, etc) it is time to begin shelving. Start with the must keep and start putting them on the shelves.
Personally, I would then move on to the still hoping to read and genuine excitement piles and fill up whatever space you have left.
If you still have space that you WANT to fill, look at the rest of the books and think about which ones are books you might want to read or reread in the future. I’d say that if you have had it for over five years and still not read it, there is a good chance that you won’t.
Let this be an expression of you have have fun with the reshelving! I like to organize my shelves (of which I have 3) as books I read, books I want to read soon, and a catch all shelf on the bottom. But I know lots of people who organize my color, genre, size, author, title, or any number of ways. Find something that works for you and that looks pleasing to your eye.
More than anything, I don’t want you to get stressed about this process. When I go through my shelves and pull books to donate or sell, if actually helps reduce some of my stress. It helps me to feel just a little bit cleaner and happy about the state of my shelves. I know they are left being filled with books that I really enjoy.
Paring down also helps me to realize what titles I want to read and then pass on. This is not something I ever experienced until recently. Now there are a few books that I have that I know I want to read but then will probably pass on afterwards.
Lastly, don’t feel like you have to get rid of anything. Maybe you box some up and stick it in the closet or under the bed. These are your books and if you aren’t ready, that is fine.
But if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or out of control, try to use some of these tricks. See if the simple paring down of too many books brings any good feelings back into your life.
Let me know if you have pared down recently or pared down after this and how it went. What helped you get through that process?