Mar 2, 2010

Decluttering Books

I. Love. Books. If I had a choice of all activities in all the world, reading would have to be in the top five, if not #1. The above picture shows my collection (NOT!). Looking at that picture, however, makes me sqee with delight.
I have moved 12 times since graduating from high school. Each time we moved, we had more books. At one point we inherited the collections from two deceased pastors. We have moved us some books, y'all!
In the last few years of major decluttering, though, I have decided I'm too old to move a gazillion boxes of books. Every six months or so, I have gone through and culled our books. My husband loves to read, my son loves to read, we homeschool, so we have books coming and going all the time.
Here's what I do:
  • I ask myself: "Can I get this book at the library?" If the answer is yes, then I let them store the book for me and I get rid of my copy.
  • "Will anyone I know ever read this book again?" If it's a resounding "no," out it goes. If it's a maybe, it stays.
  • Old books are hard. The serve as decoration, too! I grouped them together and look through them to see if anything appeals to me, just to see if they can be more than decoration. I haven't begun to part with any yet, though.

The above questions apply to my books, the homeschool books, and my son's personal collection. When I'm doing my son's books, I have him work with me and answer the questions himself. The boy has gotten very good about releasing a books each time. If he's especially adamant about one, then I figure it has earned it's way back to the bookcase.

My husband does his own books. I learned this lesson the hard way. I tried culling his stuff when we first got married. He came home from college classes and was horrified, pawing through the trash and retrieving his items. Ever since then, we have a running joke after I've done a decluttering stint that he's going to go through the garbage bags to make sure I haven't disposed of his stuff!

Now, what to do with those culled books? Here's my way:

  • Check Amazon and see if the book has decent value. I've found that nearly ALL the books I've checked have several going for only 1 cent. Ridiculous. If it DOES have decent value, I list it there.
  • If the books are lightweight with no Amazon value, I list them on Book Mooch or Paperback Swap. I've been able to get many books I was looking for through there, so I like to keep points available. I choose only light books because the sender has to pay for shipping.
  • If the book is heavy and I'm going to have a yard sale (which I say every year that I'm not), I save it for that. Quarters add up when you have a lot of books!
  • After the yard sale, I donate any that are left.

To avoid bringing too many books IN to the house:

  • I always check the local libraries (all seven of them) to see if they already have the book. Each library has a website to search for their titles.
  • If not, I check Book Mooch or Paperback Swap to see if they have it. It's free to me since I'm the one receiving the book.
  • If neither has it, I try to see if I can find it online. Sometimes the older books are available at places like Google Books, Online Books, Internet Archive, Baldwin Online Children's Lit. or Project Gutenberg.
  • If I haven't given up by that point (I usually do), and really, really, really want to see the book, I'll ask our local Barnes and Noble to order it. They will order it if it's in their catalog and have it in the store in just a few days for me to get a good look at it. Usually, if I've gone through that much effort, I buy it.
  • If I buy it, I look for coupons to bring the cost down!

As a voracious reader who could happily spend hours at the library, I have decided I don't actually want to LIVE in a library. If you'd like to see MY library, click HERE.


FarmMom said...

You forgot to mention about your section of books that you keep just for your "away" friends that can't seem to take everything with them when they leave!

Packrat said...

Funny, just the other day my husband was just complaining about all the books we have in storage. There just isn't a market (buying or selling) for them here. The public libraries (even with interlibrary loan) are almost worthless, because no one wants to fund them. Too many people in this neck of the woods think it is strange to read. So, we buy books (new or used) and keep them forever.

Roxanne said...

FarmMom--Oh yes! I have a special shelf for those, as well as the stuffed animals LOL!

Packrate--We're in the "frontier" here, too. That's one of the many reasons I'm so grateful for the internet! We can get any book we want, one way or the other, and even sell some. Unless they're worth only a penny. That still bugs me about Amazon . . .

The Retired Mama said...

I just wanted to thank-you. I did a Google search on how to reupholster with no sewing and I found the blog you posted on doing your couch. I had been telling my husband for months that we should do our couch but he didn't believe how easy it would be until I showed him your site. $20 in fabric and 4 hours later our couch looks great! Jim says it was the easiest $800. he ever saved. Thanks for your helpful instructions!

Roxanne said...

Retired Mama--I am SO thrilled!! Thank you for letting me know that it worked for you. Isn't it an easy (and CHEAP) way to freshen up a room?

Of course, you know you have to take a pic and post about it. I'll link to you to encourage others that I'm not the only one who thinks it's easy!

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