I know Marie Kondo fans are up in arms about her recommendation to get rid of books, but I agree with her and have been donating unwanted books for years. Here are a few reasons:
- I have such a huge to-read list that I rarely read books more than once
- I don't have any built-ins in my home (though they're on my wish list), and I don't like buying bookshelves
- Books are HEAVY to move around, and I don't want to have to pack them up if we move
I get that books are sentimental for many people, and some people use them for decorating (I'm looking at you, Joanna Gaines and A Beautiful Mess team). However, I'd much rather fill my home with photos and other items that bring me joy than shelves and shelves of books I will never read or even touch.
If you want to start minimizing your book collection, here are a few tips:
- Only buy books you know you'll read more than once. The biggest way I keep my book collection slim is being REALLY picky about the books I own. I generally only buy books after I've checked them out from the library or borrowed them from someone else. If I decide I loved the book, I usually check eBay or a thrift store for a used copy first before buying it brand-new. I occasionally buy children's books that I haven't read beforehand, but I'll read reviews online or use the "search inside" feature on Amazon to get a feel for whether I'll like it.
- Don't keep books just because you loved them at one point in your life. I used to love the Baby-Sitters Club books and had quite the collection as a tween. While I sometimes feel nostalgia for those books, I also know that I'm past that stage of life and probably won't make time to track down one and read it. If you think your kids will love a series you liked as a kid, keep only your very favorite books (maybe like the top five) and donate or sell the rest. By the way, I just discovered that Scholastic has reprinted several BSC books, so you can probably find them at the library.
- Give books to schools or shelters. When I'm attached to books or series I know I'm not going to read again, I feel better giving them to shelters or schools where other people might enjoy them. Children's books are harder for me to donate, so getting them in kids' hands is especially rewarding.
- Invest in hardcover children's books. I used to get so excited when my kids brought home book orders from preschool, until I realized that most of the books are paperback versions. I will gladly buy paperback novels for myself, especially secondhand, but I also know how to be gentle with my books. Henry and Norah have ripped way too many pages or bent covers while flipping through books in their room. If they love the book, I then have to try to repair it or replace it. The other thing that bugs me about paperback picture books is that the binding is stapled and there is no title on the spine. This makes it impossible for me to find on their shelves. Hardcover books are a better option for kids, in my opinion. Although they can be more expensive, I often find gently used hardcover books on eBay (and sometimes in thrift stores or at yard sales) for about the same price as a brand-new paperback copy. Investing in hardcovers means you'll have to replace fewer books, and they'll look nicer on your shelves.
- Make a goal to only fill a certain space with books. The bedrooms in our home are really small, so space is at a premium. I've surrounded my kids with books since they were babies, because I think it's important for them to love reading and find stories they love, but I also don't want to cram their rooms with bookshelves. Instead, we bought simple four-cubby storage units from IKEA for each of their rooms. One cubby holds a bin with stuffed animals, and the other cubbies are for books. If I can't fit the books in the cubbies (fortunately this hasn't happened yet), I know it's time to weed through the books and donate the ones they don't look at anymore. I also know I have to get rid of a book if I can't fit it on my single shelf in the office.
Really, my main solution for being a minimalist with books is going to the library more often and, in particular, using the library's Libby app religiously. I've posted about ways to read more in the past, but I think I'll do a separate post about the Libby app and how I get new releases quickly WITHOUT having to buy them.
Stay tuned for that, and let me know if you have more questions or suggestions about paring down your book collection!