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Are you trying to downsize and simplify your home but find it difficult or impossible when it comes to books? I hope that this article on how to downsize books will offer a few ideas!
How to Downsize Books and Simplify Your Collection
I want you to know that this is the blog post I NEVER thought I would write. I always told myself, I will never downsize my books. I will declutter everything else but books is the one thing that I’ve chosen to keep in large amounts.
But life changes. You grow, you mature, you move on. Books are still as important to me as they ever have been and I am not, and will not ever be an ebook user. I love the smell and feel of a real paper book in my hands.
But since we are planning on moving multiple times over the next couple of years. (Our family is going into full-time mission/pastoral work! More on that later.) I just can’t justify lugging around all of those books.
After I made the decision, once I started digging into my collection, things became much clearer and I’m happier with my book collection now than I ever have been before. Today I want to share with you my real (and sometimes hard) tips on how to downsize books.
Be Honest With Yourself
My first step to cleaning out my books was to simply be honest with myself and I asked these questions about the books I picked up.
- Am I going to read this again?
- Am I going to read this to the kids again?
- Is this book worth keeping until the kids are old enough to read it?
- Is this book in readable condition?
- Is this a book that I will be annoyed with if I have to read it to the kids again?
I’m serious on that last one. If you are a parent that reads very often to your children, there are just some books that are so goofy and nonsensical I don’t ever care to read them again.
I went through each and every book on my shelves and asked myself these questions. Because if I don’t plan on reading the book again, why am I keeping it around? Side note — I did place a handful of books into my memory box that I didn’t plan on regularly reading to the kids (they are in rough condition) but I did want to keep for sentimental reasons.
Does This Bring Value to Our Lives?
Let’s face it, many (if not most) of the books available in this day and age do not bring value or morality or helpfulness to our lives. They are pointless, contain unhelpful information, or offer poor themes or storylines.
This was not as easy to ask as the other questions because, in order to answer, we literally had to have read the books. So if the book passed the first test and I thought we might read it again, it then had to pass this test. Once we do read it again, I’ve been monitoring the quality of the books.
- Is this something that is helpful?
- Is this something that teaches morality from a viewpoint that we agree with?
- Is this something I would feel comfortable recommending to someone else?
AS we are reading through the remaining books, there are many books that still do not pass this test. They feature things like, children disrespecting their parents, or storylines that go in circles, or images/themes that I don’t find appropriate. These books are easy to remove from your collection when you find them but they will take more time to find.
I’ve found many book lists to be somewhat helpful in my quest to weed out the thorns in my children’s library of books, however no booklist is complete and it’s really up to you personally what you find encouraging and a good read so I will not link to lists here and leave this part up to your own discretion. I am happy to make some lists of our very favorite books in the future if that’s something you’d like to see.
Is This Something That Might Help Others?
The last category of books that I kept on my shelf was books that I thought might be helpful to others and that I may want to borrow out. Many of these books were on the topics of parenting, Biblical teaching, etc. Books that I may or may not read again soon but books that I really enjoyed, found helpful and wanted to keep on my shelf as my own personal lending library books.
These 3 simple ways to clean out your book collection may not sound like much, especially if you have a huge collection. But I’ve found them to be extremely helpful. I went from having thousands of books (yes, seriously) to a much smaller and more manageable collection.
Since the second step is an ongoing process, I know that I will still be cleaning out as we keep reading as well. But for now, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and I know now that when we pull a book off the shelf, it will be one we all want to read and it will present a good or helpful message to me or my children.
And if you aren’t sure what to do with all of those books that you are cleaning out…. I donated every single one of ours to the local library. They will either put them in the catalog or sell them during their fundraiser booksales (it’s a community, not a public library).
More info on downsizing or decluttering:
Do you need to downsize books? Have you tried any of these steps?