The Why: I'm a homeschool mom. And I like books. When generous friends and neighbours pass their gently used children's books on to our family I act like I just found the gold ticket. Instead of carefully sorting through the books and keeping only what we need, I hoard them in my basement for all of eternity.
I've tried to sell some in yard sales before. I put a box of books out early in the morning, and throughout the day I find myself walking past the box thinking "oh, no, I can't get rid of this one." and "hmmm, I think I'd like to read this one again" and by noon half the box has made it back inside. This happens every. single. time.
Oh, and just for fun I decided this morning to go through my amazon account from the last year and discovered that since this time last year I have purchased (please don't judge me...) seventy-eight books! No wonder the UPS guy has started asking questions!
What we're keeping:
- Books we want to read again (like, um, immediately)
- Books we intend to (actually) use as part of our children's education
- Cookbooks we use at least once a month
- Reference books that contain useful, up-to-date information and that are fun to browse through.
- Children's books that are delightful family favourites.
Books we aren't keeping:
- Books we might maybe sort-of want to read again someday (If we ever really do decide to read them again, we can borrow them back from the library!)
- Books that look "educational" but we've never actually used.
- Cookbooks that only contain one or two recipes I really use (I'm copying the best recipes into my recipe binder and getting rid of the book. Why keep the whole book for just a few recipes?)
- Mediocre reference books. (Almost anything can be looked up on the Internet at a moments notice)
- Books full of pretty pictures but little information. (I kept 2 decorating books, the rest are going to the library. If I feel the need to drool over some pretty rooms or fabulous table settings or fantastic landscaping, isn't that what Pinterest is for?)
The Verdict: I have the books boxed up and ready to go as soon as the library opens tomorrow morning. I'm surprisingly okay with this. I like knowing that many of them will be available at the library if we ever need them, but in the mean time they will be read and used and enjoyed instead of collecting dust.
And I don't need to store them anymore!
I've decided to start following the one in, one out rule for books. When we bring home a new book, an old one must go. Because we do school at home and have kids in different grades I think I will have to waive this rule for curriculum and the occasional reference material, which means I'll have to be all the more ruthless about the rest of the books in order to avoid ending up on an episode of Hoarders.
We are doing one small thing (almost) every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!
Like you, I love books. I'm a licensed teacher, and I have found that I can't resist picking up new children's books for my collection. However, they seem to be taking over! So, I have had to be pretty ruthless in everything else. I have had to make tough decisions when getting rid of books from my own personal collection, but the end result is that I feel so much better not having so many books sitting around and collecting dust! Congrats on taking this step!ReplyDelete
My addiction is cookbooks. I read them like novels, and have many I have never made a single recipe from. I need to make a donation to the library as well.ReplyDelete
I am just like this too! And as soon as I get rid of some, my cookbook reading obsession takes over and I'm stacked up again! Lately, I tried storing on the computer but it's still a battle for me!!Delete
My husband & I did this a couple years ago and dropped off a couple car loads of books to our library. (and even after that generous donation we still had to pay our library fine!;)) We got rid of a little over 1/2 our books I only miss a few of them.ReplyDelete
Looking around now I'm thinking it's time for another little purge.
My problem is donating them to thrift stores then returning a week or two later and buying one or two back (unintentionally!). LOL!!ReplyDelete
I'm a book addict and need serious help.
Great idea! I need to go through the books on my shelves. Most of them I have no desire to read anymore, but they were gifts. I like the idea of donating them to a library. I got a Kindle last year and it has been the best thing ever for me and my books! I'm scared to count how many books I've purchased over the past year on that thing, but at least they're not takin up space in my house! (:ReplyDelete
Okay, that was brave. Don't know whether I could do the same!ReplyDelete
I love my books. I now own a kindle and sometimes have both versions ( no judging remember). I do purge every year, but still have too many. At least I can feel good about donating to a library. I'm still sad because my dad couldn't wait to get rid of my mom's books after she passed. I still have her copy of GWTW and treasure it!ReplyDelete
There's something so romantic about the idea of a room lined with shelves full of books, but you're right - especially about anything reference which is just about obsolete by the time they're published thanks to the internet. I've always dreamed of having my own library but after moving seven times in seven years I am sick of lugging them around!ReplyDelete
I don't mean to discourage you in anyway but I just have to ask if you have checked with your library's donations policy before you console yourself with thinking the books you donate will be on the shelves when you need them. Our library accepts everything that is donated but only certain items will make it to their shelves. The rest are sold at a once a year book sale they host in which the proceeds then go to buy new books. Just wanted to let you know that in case you hadn't considered it and your library has a similar policy.ReplyDelete
Yes Charlotte. I've sorted the books according to what condition they are in so that all the ones that are in poor condition can go straight to the book sale, and the pristine ones are ready to be sorted for (possibly) going on the shelves. :)Delete
I have been following your blog and was wondering when the "books" day would come. :). Thanks for the motivation to do some book purging! I'm one that keeps books around "just in case"...time to donate!!!ReplyDelete
Can't do it. Can't do it. I'll hang my laundry and get rid cleaning supplies, but I am a book hoarder. I taught elementary school 2nd ,3rd and 6 for several years and now teach preschool (as well as having my own kiddos). I have books for all ages! and just love the look of all the tidy books on my shelves. I have them all looked up and the reading level marked. I keep collecting at thrift shops and yard sales. Someday, they'll mostly make their way back into my classroom library when I teach big kids again. I do have some of my own books that I can go through, but I'm keeping the kiddie books!ReplyDelete
Love reading your blog! Hubby is loving my cleaning out closets and such!
Beth mama bee,Delete
I'm with you on the book hoarding. I've got 96" x 72" of bookshelf units with some shelves not used for books, and I consider that having 6 books less would send me looking for a "grocery bag for $5" booksale.
It really sucks that libraries aren't open at 4 in the morning, or that I've got to put pants on to visit one, and they don't have the books I'm looking for anyway, at least not handy. And these are books that I would go nuts if I didn't have them in dead tree format.
My collection is stable, but I'm sure if other people took one day a month to really "see" their shelves, they might be able to weed one or two "maybes" out.
I am tempted to be ruthless with the paperbacks because they tend to be crawling with scorpions anyway, but I think most of them are already husband's domain and I wouldn't even notice if specific ones went missing anyway.
Gulp is right. Very impressive.ReplyDelete
I thought about doing the same thing (today, in fact!) and realized that I was mentally donating all of my husbands' books but none of mine. That's not how it works, is it?? :)
Haha. I've done the exact same thing before. I have so many books, and I have resigned myself to keeping them. When I build a house (my ultimate dream) it will have a library! Oh yes indeed. I think I've got rid of a grand total of about 15 books in the last 10 years and all belonged to the hubby! heheDelete
Kelly: you're probably right, and if nothing else people need to use the library more - they keep getting shut down in the UK because people don't use them. But I'm just not brave enough
I tend to do this every year to 18 months. The only problem I've found with it, is I end up donating several books I end up missing within a couple months. Needless to say, I still have three full bookcases (thus the need to donate yearly...)ReplyDelete
Thank you for the continued inspiration!
I did that a couple of years ago - got rid of all of the excess books. Great idea!ReplyDelete
I do the one bag in, one bag out rule for my thrift shopping.
I think books are my teal polka dot casserole dishes.ReplyDelete
What if I just clear out the cookbooks and magazines? Does that count for anything? I love my books!
I have been reading and thinking "I'm okay until she gets to books - but I am sure she won't do books - she is a homeschool mom after all..."ReplyDelete
I did get rid of one of my sets of knives, so I am enjoying THAT victory right now :)
I started this today...it's going to need more than a day and more than just me to make some of the decisions. I was happy to get rid of catalogues and today all but one magazine. I use and reuse Countryside Magazine, so I kept them and arranged them in a way that I can enjoy them more often. For the rest of the books, I pulled books that really have meaning to me from the various shelves around the house and have them out and displayed on a shelf above my desk. Tomorrow I will tackle sorting the rest to donate, there is a pile for possible selling on e-bay and there are three other people in our home that will have to choose and sort for themselves, but I feel great about starting! It makes what is left very special :)ReplyDelete
We went from 11 bookcases down to 4! Hardest thing we've EVER done! But worth it for the amount of space we got back in our home. And there's a lot less to dust too. :)ReplyDelete
I am taking the slow and steady route with this one, and have been for a while! I already did the easy sort-through, but now I have a ton I want to read through again before I make a final decision. Many of them are classics I hope to keep for my future homeschool library. Excuses, excuses. But I feel weird enough that my preschooler is learning to read on the computer monitor - it breaks my heart to think of accepting the likely reality of him at 9 years old, sitting in bed with an e-reader rather than a paper book! Books will be the last thing I hoard, although I am "in and out" with most new selections. My stash is from my childhood!ReplyDelete
I did this when I got my kindle - we kept a few select paperback books that my Husband reads (he doesn't read a whole lot), and then I recently did this with the children's books - especially as my youngest gets older and we dont need the babyish books anymore - their books were taking over my hallway so was really pleased afterwards how tidy it all was :)ReplyDelete
I've been slowly purging our books for a few months. I have three 7'x4' bookcases to still go through. I've already donated 6 boxes to our library, and 4 boxes to our church. I've also sold back many of our books to Amazon - for over $200 - through their trade-in store. Plus, they pay for the shipping. Win win!ReplyDelete
At first, I didn't support this idea; I touch/store books religiously. But now I saw that you have a reason to give them away. You are not throwing away Monte Cristo or Anna Karenina; you gave them just because you are quite sure you wont look at them twice in your lifetime.. I really loved this idea and now I wonder If I have any kinda books might be given away. Thanks for changing my pre-set mind about giving books.ReplyDelete
-sorry for bad english, learning-
I stopped buying books a long time ago. I was getting overwhelmed and it was getting out of control! I have just started the process of getting rid of books. I came to the realization that an uncluttered space is more important than having a dusty book collection that I never read. I now use my library more and my mom bought me a kindle. I only buy certain books for my kindle and mostly get free books. It feels really good to let them go!ReplyDelete
I did this in June. I had my niece come over to encourage the purge (just in case). First I took the hundreds of books to my mom's garage sale and earned over $500!! All the left-overs (just over 300 books) promptly went to the library for their used book sale. I will be honest, when I got the grage sale money, my first thought was MORE BOOKS!! (haha)ReplyDelete
I have a Kindle (I can borrow books for my Kindle from my library). And, when I find a book (probably 1 out of very 30 I read) that I LOVE I buy a hard copy of it. Now, I have only the books I love.
I know this is not quite in line with making things simpler, but what about a Kindle? I no longer buy paper books (unless they're under $3 used and part of a series I'm reading) and it takes up no space!ReplyDelete
I'm torn on this one. It does save money and paper and space, so that is a good thing. But there are a few reasons we haven't taken the plunge and gotten one yet. 1) My husband and I both like to read in the evenings, so we would need two of them. 2) I do half of my leisure reading in the bubble bath....and I would be way too afraid of dropping my e-reader in the bathtub! and 3) Because my blogs have me looking at computer screens a fair bit during the day, I prefer to do my leisure reading from an actual printed page. So, I think e-readers are great, but perhaps not for me :)Delete
Have you ever thought of using www.paperbackswap.com? Its a website that you can trade books on. If you homeschool that would be a good thing to know about.ReplyDelete
Hi! I'm in Canada. It looks like that doesn't apply to Canadians, and even if it did, it costs as much as a new book to send a book internationally!Delete
Funny Story - in 2008 we moved from Ireland to New Zealand. We packed up everything but had mountains of books that we boxed up asked our parents to look after, thinking we'd ship them later. For 3 yrs we missed a couple of those books, but that was the height of it. We went back there for a trip last yr and decided to take the books off the folks hands, well at the airport we were grossly overweight facing a very hefty charge. All our family dropped us in the parking lot, as we couldn't face long teary goodbyes so - having no one to fob them off on we proceeded to the airport bin and had about 8 mins before the check in desk closed to choose the ones that really mattered!!!!! It was INTENSE!!!ReplyDelete
By the way Kelly - did u drink coffee during your pregnancies - I'm in early stages of pregnancy feeling sick and just read Nourishing Traditions today and told me no caffeine but I'm finding it tough!!! What do you do?
I drink far less coffee than I used to, but yes, I do drink a morning coffee (or two! eek) during my pregnancies.Delete
I got rid of the bulk of our books a few years ago and haven't regretted it since! I kept them in some sort of fantasy that we'd all curl up and read them. Yeah, ah--NOPE. Old books smell musty, books have to be dusted, and reference books? That's what google is for! Good job!ReplyDelete
I have been paring down our books aggressively and am finding my husband resistant to this one. It's easy with the kids & me though, we have a local coffeeshop with a share bookshelf so we bring books we've read down there and leave them for other folks and pick up a new one.ReplyDelete
I think this is one of the big ones that's just not gonna happen in our family. My book collection is my pride and joy, and I have them displayed on 4 large bookshelves. I have read every single book at least once, and if it was a bad book, I already got rid of it. My library is definitely something I'm going to hold onto for a long time. Otherwise, I'm seriously enjoying the purging! I'll tell you though, seeing the title of this one made my blood pressure skyrocket haha.ReplyDelete