Culling Your Bookshelf: A How To Guide

April 1, 2015 Tips & Tricks 4

There comes a time when a booklover must clear their bookshelves. Whether it’s because of an upcoming move, no more shelf space, or you’ve been ordered to make room, nothing hurts more than culling one’s shelves. The first instinct is to rebel, but then you come to terms. How do you know which books to say goodbye to?

First, you need to ask yourself a series of questions. Have you read the book? If you did, did you like it? Would you read it again? If you answer no to any of these questions, then put the book in the culled box. If you haven’t the read the book, ask yourself, will you read in the next week or two? If you’ve had the book on your TBR (to be read) pile for months on end (or even years) and you know you’re not going to read it, in the box it goes.

Now you have to identify the books you might have multiple copies of. If you’re not a collector of a particular author or book (I know some people like to collect different foreign editions of their favorite book), then you might find yourself with multiple copies of a book. A friend of mine found herself with FIFTEEN (15) copies of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and she can’t explain how. Have multiple copies and you’re not going to read it? In the culled box it goes.

After you’ve sorted the books you won’t ever read, didn’t like, or have multiple copies of, the next course of action is the most difficult. More than likely you’ve kept books that were given to you as a gift (graduation, birthday, Christmas, etc) or perhaps were signed by the author. Again, if you don’t plan on reading the book or didn’t like it, it’s okay to put it in the culled box. The goal here is to make room for the books you love and want to have and for future books. If a book was given to you by your favorite aunt or grandmother who is no longer around and you have no plans to read the book, you can keep it. Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t say no to a signed book. Again, if I didn’t like the read or I’m not planning on reading it, then what’s the point in keeping it? It’s okay to put these books in the box.

By now your shelves might look a little bare and it’s okay. Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for doing the impossible. Now that you’ve culled your books, what to do with the boxes? There are several options and I plan to address several of them over the course of the year. In January, I discussed Paperback Swap, but they’ve introduced a membership type of fee and I haven’t used them since about December 2014. But you can donate your books to your local library (check with your local library on how to donate and what happens to your books if they decide not to use them. Some libraries will sell them or destroy them), a shelter, or a school. If you’re a blogger, host a giveaway or trade them. I know some bookstores buy books so you might be able to sell them and earn credit.

If you’ve made room on your shelves, what did you do with the books?

4 Responses to “Culling Your Bookshelf: A How To Guide”

  1. Carrie

    I usually do a shelf cleaning about once a year or so. The Goodwills in my area actually run mini-used bookshelves and so I take them there. I prefer them over my local library because my local library has more books than they know what to do with, plus I can use the donation as a write-off towards taxes. Win-win 🙂
    Carrie recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #4My Profile

  2. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    When I cull (which isn’t often!), we usually take the books to our library for their big Friends of the Library booksale. Unfortunately, when sale time rolls around, I usually come home with as many as I purged! (Well, not quite.)
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…Sunday Post – 5/17/15My Profile

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