How To: Declutter Your Bookshelves

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We've been working towards getting rid of one third of our books. Our bookshelves have overflowed to the point where we have books lining the mantelpiece and the tops of cabinets. Our goal is to whittle down our collection so that we only have books on the shelves...not spilling over into other parts of the house. (Seems kind of obvious, right?) Normally we're pretty good at decluttering, but this is a pretty painful process for us. Here's how we're doing it...

Our Problem: My husband and I each have a bookshelf. He went to St. John's College where they read 100 great books over the course of four years, so he wants to keep the books that made up his education. This is totally understandable, but it takes up a pretty big chunk of our shelves. I have a similar problem since my grandmother was a librarian and I've inherited a lot of her books. I've gotten rid of many of them, but the remaining ones still take up a lot of space. We know...we could go digital or get everything we need from the library, but we're just not there yet.


Our Solution:

1) We're doing this process a little at a time. Although it can be painful to remove books we once loved from our shelves, if we let them sit in the outbox for a couple of days we begin to realize that it's not such a huge loss.

2) First we got rid of any duplicate books (we still had a few leftover from merging our collections) and any books that didn't matter to us that much. We also got rid of any large-format art books that we didn't absolutely have to keep.

3) We went through our shelves and tried to take out anything we hadn't looked at in a few years.

4) I sometimes write book reviews, so I have a lot of old galley copies. I weeded them all out of the shelves.

5) At this point, we have about one more shelf full of books that we still need to get rid of. Every day, I scan the shelves and take out a few. By the end of next week we should be in good shape.

6) Once we're all done, we'll donate the contents of our outbox. For tips on where to donate books, click here.

Image via Morguefile.