All book-lovers have had a book buying problem at some point or another. We just cannot help filling our homes with books, which are always pretty to look at and a joy to keep close. But sometimes you have to learn to let go of the books you love for a multitude of reasons. Maybe you're moving into a smaller home, maybe you've been spending too much rent money on books, maybe you just need more physical space in your life to allow for more mental space. But, whatever the reason, no serious book lover wants to be told "Well, then just don't buy books!" or "Just donate your books!" as if it were anywhere near that easy. We form attachments to our books for many and varied reasons, and we also love the routine and ceremony of heading to the book store and browsing the shelves to find something new and wonderful to take home.
So, what's a book-lover with some serious space issues to do? Luckily there are a few unconventional ways to keep your home library in check. And while a lot of them do involve purging your collection and taking a step back from binge buying, these tips and tricks will ultimately make you feel better about curating your collection. Don't think of them as sacrifices, but rather, as ways to make your home library even better and more uniquely you.
1. Host A Book Swap
Let's start off with an easy one. Hosting a book swap with friends and family will make you feel way less sad about getting rid of your books for a couple of reasons. One, you're sending them off to homes where you know they will be loved, cared for, and actually read. Two, you get to make getting rid of books a party with some of your favorite people. Have everyone bring a set amount of books, put them all in piles around the room, set out some drinks and snacks, and get to browsing! You might be wondering how swapping books for more books will keep your library in check, so here's the secret: set yourself a limit. For instance, for every one book you grab make sure that you gave away two, or three, depending on how much space you need to make on your shelves. That way it's a win-win situation: new books + less clutter = total success.
2. Keep A Strict Designated Space For Books
The problem with books is that they're just so nice to look at, you want to have them in every single available space in your home. But if you want to make sure that you're not completely overrun by books, you need to keep them in one single designated space. Of course, this space will be different for everyone depending on how much room you have, or how many books you want to keep. One bookcase, some single shelves, a desk top, a storage unit, a closet, wherever it is you want to keep your books, allow yourself to fill that space and no more. This will help you in a couple of ways. One, whenever you buy news books you will be forced to get rid of others that aren't as worthy of the space. Two, this can keep you from buying new books at all if you love each and every one already on your shelves and don't want to part with them.
3. Only Buy Books From One Genre
Think about the kind of home library you want to have. When you imagine the sorts of books that populate your shelves, that tell people the kinds of books you love to read, what's on there? Your favorite YA series? Those obsession worthy thrillers? Inspirational memoirs from your favorite women? Then those are the only physical books you need to be buying. Of course this does not mean that those are the only books you should read. Reading is best when it is wide and varied, and libraries, e-readers and borrowing from friends and family allows you to read anything and everything. But when you pop into the book store and just can't resist picking something up, make sure it is the kind of book that will fit seamlessly into your home library, one that you know you'll want to keep and reread for years to come, and one that you'll be proud to show off.
4. Re-Read Old Favorites To See If You Still Like Them
This one is important, and one that book-lovers tend to forget. Just because you adored a book five years ago, doesn't mean that you will now. And if you're following the idea of keeping shelves that truly represent you, having a bunch of old books that you don't like anymore or can't even remember the reasons why you loved them in the first place is not the way to go. Pick up a stack of books you've only been keeping because you remember loving them the first time you read them years ago, and reread them or skim through them. Remind yourself of the plot, the characters and the writing style and see if it still inspires the same feelings in you that it did back then. If it does, keep it. If it doesn't, pass it along.
5. Plan A Recurring Trip To Your Local Library
If you haven't utilized your local library in a while, now is definitely the time. It is easy to put books on hold and request titles to your closest branch online, and the catalog of front list titles is more current than ever. If you find that your branch doesn't carry a book you're desperate for, you can even put in a request that they buy a copy. If you plan a trip to the library every week, two weeks or once a month, you can grab tons of books you would have otherwise impulse purchased, without taking up your precious space. If you loved a book and can't live without it in your collection, you can always go buy it afterward. But, the best part? If you hated a book, it goes right back to the library, and you aren't stuck with a brand new copy that you just paid for. So, no more money down the drain.
6. Browse Your E-Reader For Book Sales
The best way to keep your physical library small is to expand your digital one. This can be hard for book lovers who want to hold the physical books in their hands, or those who want to make sure that they are supporting their local book stores. But buying digital books doesn't mean you have to stop buying physical books entirely. Instead, you can focus your physical library on genre or some other kind of favorites system, and get the rest on your e-reader. If you need some motivation, browse your reader for book sales. There are tons of current buzz titles that go on sale for $1.99 or $2.99 on the regular. If you can try out a book or find a new favorite for a buck while also keeping your home uncluttered, why the heck wouldn't you?
7. Keep Your Physical TBR For A Specific Period Of Time
The best way to get rid of your books is to actually read them. Maybe you're even the kind of person who has no problem purging their book collection once they've read a book that wasn't an instant favorite, but you're still being crushed under stacks of books because you have a problem reading the ones that you actually own. We've all fallen into this trap. You buy a book you're so excited to read and then a bunch of new books are released or others catch your eye, and suddenly it's five years later and that book you purchased are still sitting on your shelves, unread, taking up prime real estate. So cut your losses by keeping a strict TBR must-be-read-by date, like no more than one year after purchase. If you still haven't read it by that date, it's time to read it immediately, or pass it on to someone who will. Just think of it this way: you'll have more room for books you'll actually read, and the potential to find a new life-changing favorite.