Spring Awakening: How To Tackle The Bookshelf For A Decluttered Home
Spring is the time to refresh and renew. Clearing out all the clothes in your closet is an annual ritual, but it's something we should apply to our bookshelves as well. There are only a few books we can read over and over again, but for some reason we like to stockpile the ones we only read once, too. Here are a few ideas for tackling the bookshelf to declutter your home.
If you're a bookworm, you probably have a few (or many) books that you've read and can't part with. Whether you're keeping it to read again or it's on the shelf for its sentimental value, it's OK; leave it on the shelf! Set aside those books you consider special, but be realistic. If you're keeping it because you bought it on a layover during a weekend trip you enjoyed 15 years ago, it might be time to let it go. Make new memories and new space on the shelf for new books!
Cookbooks, guides and reference books typically get a permanent spot on the bookshelf, but they don't have to. Look at what you have and be realistic about how much you really need them. That Cajun cookbook might not serve a family well if they can't have spicy food. That set encyclopedias is full of facts, but if it was printed more than a month ago, the information is probably outdated. Those are books that seem like they have potential, but no practical use and should be let go.
Quality Over Quantity
Books age and fall apart over time and occasionally, they make it to our shelves already a little worn and damaged. If you haven't read the book, toss it. If you try to read it, it may fall apart 50 pages in with pages crumbling as you go -- and you may not get to finish it. It's not worth keeping. If you're hanging on to it for sentimental reasons, consider it for the "safe" pile. Once you make the decision to discard these books, you'll feel a lot lighter -- and you may even clear out enough space for new family room furniture.
Attack The "Antilibrary"
Essayist Nassim Taleb calls that stack of unread books on your shelf the "antilibrary." Most of us are guilty of buying books and never getting around to reading them -- which adds to our clutter. Go through that pile and be honest with yourself -- if you know you're not going to read a book, take it off the shelf. For the ones you're confident you'll read, set a reminder for six months in the future to get rid of the book whether you've read it or not. This gives you one last shot at getting those books read while helping you set healthy goals for yourself.
The Reject Pile
There are a number of things you can do with your books. You can try to sell them on the Internet, but that's probably best left to professionals who know the used book market. Your best bet is to take them a used bookstore that buys used books. They take the books they believe are sellable and give you what they think they're worth. The books they reject can be donated -- thrift stores typically take books or, if your community supports Little Free Library, you can donate your books there to encourage literacy in your neighborhood.