‘Weed your Library’

Overstuffed BookshelfSpring often brings with it that urge to clean and clear out. This applies to books as well! Even though we regard books as “our friends” we cannot keep them all, especially if we are also prone to impulse buys. It’s the same with clothing. First rule of thumb  –  don’t ever be tempted to buy a new wardrobe or add a new bookshelf unless it’s to complement your decor. If the space is no longer adequate, then weeding needs to happen!

With the ease of online shopping and the allure of used bookstores, most of us have lots of books we had the opportunity to buy, but never actually took the time to read. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed and weighed down. And that also goes for the nightstand and the booklist. Be sure to weed those as well!

So how to weed. First of all, remove those impulse buys that you regret ever acquiring. It’s ok. Forgive yourself and clear them out. Look at each book you haven’t read and ask yourself if you really do still want to read it.  If not, out it goes. If you want them again they will be somewhere in a bookstore or a library. Unless you are a re-reader (and very few of us really are) get rid of the ones you have read unless they belong in one of the following categories:

Organized BookshelfKeep the books you absolutely love or definitely still want to read. Bookshelves do reflect who we are and what we are interested in. Also keep books that are beautiful as objects (like out of print first editions or arty coffee table ones), books that you have underlined and are likely to return to for edification, books that you want to keep for your children, and books that you might want to pass on to a friend or a guest. My rule for clothing and household goods is similar – keep only what is regularly useful or dearly loved.

What to do with the books? Pass them on to charities or bazaars. Leave them in community centres. Find a book exchange or a used book store. And if you are embarrassed to be seen with a particular item, assume no one else will want it either. By all means, recycle it or dump it in the trash.

If you need a reward for your efforts when you are done, why not indulge in the purchase of a new book you really wanted to read, but had no space or time for. Purging is cathartic and culling raises the value of the things that we choose to keep. It opens us up to new energy and possibility. Hurrah for spring!

8 responses to “‘Weed your Library’

  1. Nancy Wickham

    Alas, the best place for me to drop off books is the amazing Goodwill Bookstore in Fort Myers, Florida. After they help me unload items at the back of the store they hand me a coupon and I walk around to the front of the store, wander in, and ‘reload’. I’ve even been tempted to ‘re-buy’ books that I’ve dropped off months before- There are probably support groups for this…

  2. Caveat: Make sure if your husband is doing this you are with him to monitor! John once gave away a slew of beloved classic children’s books!! ):

    • Ouch! You make a good point Laura! Weed with your partner, especially if they tend to the “thrower” rather than the “keeper”! By the way, attended a conference at Daunt Books last week. When are you coming this way again?

  3. Nick just emptied his office and brought home 1500+ books… do I need to say more? I say ‘Amen’ to this post!

  4. Thank you for inspiring me, once again. Our family once had a bookstore to support our book buying habit. Books are hard to let go of but you have encouraged me to do another much needed purge.

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