How to Declutter Your Book Collection

Ahhh, books…

I love books. They provide us with entertainment, education, inspiration, and so much more.

If your collection has gotten out-of-hand, where you are struggling with storage options, then a book decluttering session may be in order.

Decluttering books can be challenging. They are a deep material attachment for many of us. Even if we’ve already read the book several times and no longer open it, we want to hang onto it.

So if you’re struggling in this area, here are some guidelines to help you lighten up and consolidate your books.

Pick Up Each Book and Assess Individually

This may sound strange, but the act of touching / holding the book can help you “feel” whether it’s a keeper or not.

Some of my clients laugh or look at me sideways when I share this tip. But after practicing it, they realize how much easier it can make the collection-thinning process.

Remove Duplicates with Similar Content

Do you really need seven Microsoft Excel instruction books?

And perhaps you enjoyed a hobby years ago, but have moved onto a new hobby. Hanging onto multiple books with topics that no longer interest us is unnecessary. Let them go.

General resource books are another type of book where we often collect multiple, similar copies. Like dictionaries. I once had three thesauruses. We don’t need multiple copies of resource books. In addition, we have the internet for researching definitions, synonyms, style rules, and so on.

Get Over the Home Library Attachment

This tip isn’t about letting go of the books. It’s about letting go of the attachment to books.

My home library used to be a big source of pride for me. My ego was all wrapped up in the amount of books I had, which books I had, etc. I was impressed with myself and my “cool” collection. Once I paused and saw my ego in all its book hoarding glory, I started letting go the books I rarely opened, little by little.

Look inward and do some self-study. Ask yourself questions, like why you keep books with pages that never see the light of day.

Organizing / Refreshing Book Collections is an Ongoing Process

Decluttering / organizing is a process, and books are no exception, especially if you have decades of books piling up in your home.

Don’t try to get it perfect the first time you do it. Set a reasonable schedule for yourself to review and update your collection (i.e., monthly, quarterly, yearly). Or just do it when you get the urge.

Conclusion: Carve Your Own Path

Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo recently caused an uproar by stating she only had 30 books. People automatically assumed that 30 books was her rule for everyone, but I don’t believe that was her intention at all.

Everyone is different. For instance, a professional organizing friend of mine has a large book collection, but she has several passions and work endeavors that require her to reference many different topics. Plus, she’s multilingual, so she has books in three different languages. I, on the other hand, have about ten books right now. We are all unique, so stay neutral about what other people are doing with their books and focus on your own process.

Letting go of books via a regular decluttering / organizing practice helps us create space for the new to enter our lives. Don’t be afraid to let go of the old stuff, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what new energy may arrive to fill the fresh open spaces you created.

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