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How to Declutter Your Bookshelves

How to Declutter Your Bookshelves: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

Today I removed 75 books from my bookshelves. Some of these are books I’ve read and disliked. Some are books I’ve read and loved. Some are books I’ve never read and I know I’ll never read. Whichever category these books fitted in, I came to the conclusion it was time for them to go and find another home. 

The first step is to go through your bookshelf, shelf by shelf, taking each and every book off the shelf. It’s important that you actually hold each book in your hands and don’t just skim your eyes over the shelves. You need to concentrate on each book instead of looking at your collection as a whole. By doing this I’ve found that I actually own duplicate copies of certain titles, so the obvious first step is getting rid of these.

Then you need to ask yourself the following set of questions, depending on whether or not you’ve read the book before. 

Decluttering your bookshelves is the first step to cutting down your TBR pile once and for all, so make sure to check out that when you’re done with this cleaning process!

Let’s get decluttering! 

For books that you have read

Ask yourself…

  • Did I like it? 
  • Would I recommend it? 
  • Will I ever read it again? 
  • Does it hold any sentimental value? 

Firstly, if you can’t even answer some of these questions, then it’s an immediate no

If you can answer, but you answered no to all of the above, then it’s obviously a no too. However, where you have answered with a mix of yes and no, things get more difficult. 

I’m sure many of you will have difficulty letting go of books that you liked and would recommend. But if you’re intent on decluttering your shelves then you’ve got to ignore your answers to the first two questions. If you liked a book but you know that you will never read it again and it holds no sentimental value, there is no reason for you to keep this book.

If you’re an avid reader like me then it’s likely your book collection is constantly growing. Whilst I used to be of the opinion that you should keep and collect all books that come your way (every bookworm’s dream is a personal library after all!), it has become clear to me over recent years that this is simply unsustainable.

As a book blogger, new books arrive on my doorstep each week and there’s just nowhere to put them. I had to be strict with myself whilst decluttering, and I realised along the way that it would be much better to have a library filled with only the best books anyway. 

Only keep those that you truly loved, those that you would recommend and lend to a friend, those that you would re-read and those that hold some sentimental value for you. With limited shelf space, you only want to keep the creme de la creme. 

For books that you haven’t read

Ask yourself…

  • Why haven’t I read this? 
  • Is this book a classic? 
  • Will I ever read this? 

A common answer to the first question is that you forgot that you owned this book. That’s why it’s important to actually take each and every book off the shelf so you can really have a look at it.

Personally I have found that the vast majority of books that I haven’t read and have decided to get rid of, is simply down to the fact that my reading tastes have changed over the years. And that’s not a problem. As we grow and change, so too do our reading tastes. 

Even if it’s a book you were once dying to read, you may find that you now have very little interest in it. There are a limited number of hours in the day and you should spend your free time reading books that fill you with excitement and pique your interest.

As for the second question, the reason I ask if the book is a classic is because I will often buy a classic novel if I happen to see a good deal or particularly special edition. The book will often then sit on my shelf gathering dust but I know that I will want to read it one day and for that reason, I tend to keep most old and modern classics that come into my hands. 

The final question is the most important. Will I ever read this? In order to answer this question, I would re-read the blurb of the book and have a quick flick through some of its pages. Does it pique your interest at all? If no, then you know what to do. However, if the answer is yes, I suggest you have a look at what some other people thought on Goodreads before you stick this back on the shelf. 

I have come across many books on my shelves that sounded amazing but after reading a couple of reviews it became clear this book wasn’t for me. Obviously everybody has a different opinion and just because a stranger on Goodreads disliked the book it doesn’t mean that you will too. However, a quick scroll through the top reviews should reveal some of the key characteristics of the book and the writing, enabling you to make a decision. 

There is absolutely no point in hoarding books that you will never read, you will only be doing yourself a disservice! 

What do I do with all my unwanted books?

There are many options for what to do with your unwanted books. If you liked the book and think a friend might like it too, why not give it to them to read? If some of the books you are getting rid of are particularly valuable, you might consider selling them, either online or back to a bookshop. You could also take all your books to a car boot sale. Anything that’s left can be donated to your local charity shop but never throw unwanted books in the bin!

Final words of motivation…

If you want the above process to be successful, you need to be strict with yourself. As a book blogger and avid bookstagrammer, I know that it can feel like a real shame to get rid of books, especially those that are aesthetically pleasing. However, you’ve presumably been led to this post because your bookshelves are overflowing with titles and you need to sort them out.

Decluttering your bookshelves is healthy for your mind and it also means the books you love can really shine. Do yourshelf a favour and remove those unwanted books ASAP! 

Now that you’ve decluttered your shelves… it’s time to address that dreaded TBR pile (to-be-read pile). Head to this post to check out my tips for how to cut down your TBR pile once and for all! 

If you liked this post, check out these:

How to Cut Down Your TBR Pile Once and For All
7 Reasons to Always Carry a Book With You
My Bookstagram Evolution: How I Got Started on Instagram
It’s Time For Book Bloggers to Get Paid.
Book Bloggers Share Their Thoughts on Influencer Marketing
10 Beautiful Bookstagram Accounts for Book Lovers
10 More Beautiful Instagram Accounts for Book Lovers

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