Why I Got Rid of Almost 100 Books

Words cannot express how happy and relieved I was when I finally bought, built and filled my new bookcase. It was literally a weight off my shoulders. No, seriously–it was heavy to lift on my own, and it’s almost a whole foot taller than I am.

After the blood, sweat and tears of setting up my bookcase, I was very proud of how I had organized my shelves by genre, size, etc. (Check out my BYOBooks bookcase tour post.) However, after a few months, I was overwhelmed whenever I looked at my bookcase.

I’ve held on to some books since middle and high school. Others from college. Many were from library sales or from The Great Borders Liquidation of 2013. But did I actually want to read some of those? And if I did, do I still feel the same way now? Where did this even come from?

Was Marie Kondo whispering in my ear?

Two months ago, Ashley Riordan posted this video on her YouTube channel Climb the Stacks:

That same evening, I began my purge. I had bags at the ready for my own bookcase liquidation. And I regret nothing from having done it.

Some guidelines I followed:

  1. Clear off one shelf at a time. Now, Marie Kondo would say make a pile of all the books you own in the middle of the room and work from there. But to that I say, to each their own. I started with my top shelf and worked my way down.
  2. Be realistic about each book’s future in your possession. That China Miévelle book I had for my fantasy fiction class during undergrad (six years ago) that I’ve read 3/4 of but have no plans on finishing? Bye, Felicia. That book I bought for $1… did I really want to read it or was I blinded by a “deal”? Bye! You get the point.
  3. Don’t feel obligated to hang on to books that were gifts. Seriously. This is how unnecessary hording happens. If it was a gift and you have no interest in reading it, then you’re doing a disservice to yourself and the person who gifted you the book. Someone else could be enjoying it!
  4. Keep assigned reading books only if you plan on reading them again. I’ve kept a few Norton Anthologies because I truly enjoyed reading British literature from the Middle Ages and the 18th Century, and I definitely plan on rereading some of those works. However, the Norton Anthologies of American literature? But other textbooks or novels from courses–purged.
  5. Your bookcase should be a reflection of your interests. If your bookcase is just a facade of titles, the only person you’re fooling is yourself. Granted, TBR reading challenges or my #BYOBooks2016 challenges, etc., are also a secondary method of potential purging and figuring out what your interests are.
  6. Don’t feel personally obligated to keep all of your favorite author’s (or authors’) books. I owned upwards of 30 or 40 Joyce Carol Oates titles, however, after reading each synopsis, I decided to get rid of most titles. Now I’m down to 11. It’s a start.
  7. It will take you more than one round to achieve your desired purging goal. You don’t be able to clear out all the books you won’t read in one sitting (unless you’re 200% confident or just starting your book collection from scratch). It might take you a few rounds to get to your desired book collection state. If space is an issue, that may factor in to your decision-making too. I know I will probably go through my bookcase once more before the end of the year. It’s not perfect at the moment, and it might never get there, but I’ll get as close to it as I can.
  8. Donate or sell whichever books you decide not to keep. Either to a book resale shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, your local library, hospitals or rehab centers, etc. Remember: Someone else can enjoy these books. It’s not like you’re building a bonfire with them; you’re giving them a second life.

In the end, I cleared out almost three full shelves and removed nearly 100 books. In fact, I was able to bring the Harry Potter series my brother had bequeathed to me before his move out West from his old bedroom into mine. This is only the beginning, but I’m happy I’ve found a starting point (or at least came to terms that it needed to happen).

Maybe it’s the spring cleaning fever, but have you ever done a bookcase purge? Did you find yourself with books you didn’t really care for anymore or that had fulfilled their purpose?

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