Books Taking over Your House?

white flowers
© 2013 Christy King

“[T]hose of us who read because we love it more than anything, who feel about bookstores the way some people feel about jewelers…”

– Anna Quindlen

A lot of minimalists find their book collections the hardest to downsize. To a lot of us, books don’t seem like “stuff.” They seem special, both beautiful and useful.

The fact is, though, they’re still stuff, and many people (including me) have way too many.

A few years ago, I realized that books get expensive fast. Not so much the cost of the books themselves, though that adds up as well, but the fact that you need to then buy more bookshelves and eventually a larger home for all those bookshelves.

“The odd thing about people who had many books was how they always wanted more.”

– Patricia McKillip

The first step in downsizing your book collection is to drastically limit the books you buy. I now buy only reference books or books that I know I’ll read multiple times.

If you don’t mind reading at least some of your books electronically, one way to reduce the number of books taking up space on your shelves is to start buying e-books. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can read them on your smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Most of us live near libraries, and it’s easy to borrow books instead of buying them. My library has audio-books and e-books available as well. If you haven’t been to your local library lately, check it out (no pun intended).

“A room without books is like a life without meaning.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Don’t feel like you have to get rid of your entire book collection. Keep your favorites.

I’ll bet, though, that you have some books that have been sitting there unread for years. Do you really need to keep those? What about the ones you’ve read but know you’ll never read again?

As you may have realized by now, I don’t find getting rid of my stuff all that easy to do. That’s why I’m the gradual minimalist. While there were a few books I put in the “get rid of pile” immediately, most of the others went into another pile. Not back on the shelf, but in a “read soon” pile.

Don’t try this if you won’t really read them. In that case, go ahead and get rid of them. It works for me, though, and I’m down to only about 10 more (OK, maybe 15). Still, it’s a huge improvement.

After this, wait a few months and look through your collection again. I find that each time I go through a collection of clutter, I’m able to get rid of more stuff. Somehow, once you’re used to having less, it makes it easier to get of the items that are now your least favorites.

“Books are love letters (or apologies) passed between us, adding a layer of conversation beyond our spoken words.”

– Donalyn Miller

What can you do with the books you don’t want anymore? Are there any particular books you feel would be enjoyed by friends or family? If so, make an impromptu gift of them – no need to wait for a holiday.

This post at Apartment Therapy has a great list of places to donate them. You can also try selling them (for cash or store credit) at a local used bookstore or online, such as through Amazon.

Now It’s Your Turn

Please share your tips for controlling your book collection in the comments or contact me.

P.S. I apologize that this post is so much shorter than usual. Due to our dog passing away yesterday, I was unable to make much time for writing this week.