Culling Bookshelves

There comes a point in every bibliophile’s life when we have too many books. There are a few facts that are true for bibliophiles:

  • We keep buying books. E-books, audiobooks, hardcovers, paperbacks
  • We keep going to the library
  • We have multiple copies of books
  • We give books as gifts and are given books as gifts

Recently Marie Kondo gave some advice on her Netflix series Tidying Up about…tidying up. One of the pieces of advice the sparked a great deal of debate was to throw away your old books. Of course book twitter was up in arms over the advice, condemning her for heresy against books. However, I agree with her.

My relationship with books is special. During college I spent many weekends volunteering at a Friends of the Library used bookstore and accumulated dozens of free and very under-priced books. After college, I frequented the used book stores near me to beat stress and somehow ended up with over 700 books. I had so many that last year one of my bookcases literally collapsed. I decided it was time for me to get serious about culling my bookshelves. The first step of course is to stop buying books. The second step is to start picking out the books that are unnecessary. If you’d like to try, here’s how you can proceed:

  • The nth book in a series. Are you really going to get to that last one? Like really? I mean if you really think you’ll get to it, then cool. But be honest with yourself.
  • Those other books from that one author you really loved back in 2008 and got obsessed with for a while.
  • Gifted books that you feel bad about discarding because your aunt gave it to you for your fifteenth birthday. If you still feel guilty, re-gift it to a younger cousin.
  • That one book your professor recommended freshman year that you bought because you wanted to sound intellectual and get bonus points.
  • Your third and fourth copies of LOTR because these are the ones with the cool maps
  • Your third and fourth biographies of Elizabeth I. Unless you’re a researcher, this might be superfluous.  

Of course, everyone is entitled to own whatever book they want and how many ever books they want, but if you do agree with any of the above, then please consider donating your books to your local library or a used book store so that they can go to another book lover.

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