9 Easy Tips For Finally Getting Rid Of All Those Books You Bought But Never Read

by Kerri Jarema

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are well and truly behind us, now is the time when many people start to really prep in earnest for the year ahead. Whether you're still crafting your list of goals or are well on your way to changing things up, the latter half of January is ideal for cementing your commitments for the next 12 months. And one of the best ways to start off on the right foot is with a good New Year's cleaning spree. And for readers, your book collection should be right at the top of that list. We all know that book collections are the pride and joy of many bibliophiles, but when it comes to reducing clutter, your unhauling books on your shelves is really the best place to start.

No one needs to keep books they didn't enjoy reading, and no one needs to keep unread books that have been languishing on their shelves for years. But maybe you just have no idea how to go about it. Maybe the idea of getting rid of books that you spent your hard-earned money on makes your skin crawl. Well, with the nine easy tips below, you can get started on the path to reducing your TBR stress, getting rid of excess stuff, and make space for only books that make your reader's heart soar.

Keep Only A Set Number Of Books On Your Shelves

This is definitely the easiest way to get rid of unwanted books. Pick a number, the exact amount of books that will fit on your shelves is a great place to start, and then stick to it. Of course, the hard part of going through your stack remains, but once you have a set number that you cannot exceed, it will be much easier to be ruthless. If you're still having trouble, start with a "must-keep" pile and a "maybe" pile. If you've put all of those keepers back on the shelf and you're under your set number, start adding the maybes. Go with your first instinct. Get rid of whatever doesn't fit. It may sound overly simple, but hey, that's sort of the point.

Make A Time Stamp For Your TBR Stack

I have seen this idea floating around the bookish community lately, and I have started implementing it on my own shelves, too. Decide how long you're OK with having an unread book in your collection. Three months? Six months? A year? Once you've figured that out, whenever you bring a new book in to your collection, mark the date you bought it on a sticky note and place it on the book. If your time-frame has passed without you reading the book, or worse, without you even thinking about it? You guessed it, it's time to give that book away.

And Make One For All Of Your ARCs, Too

If you're someone who gets their hands on physical ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) you know how hard it can be to let go of them. They're basically free books, and unhauling them can feel like letting go of a huge opportunity. But, here's the thing: if you're not going to read them, they're taking up precious space. So, use the time stamp sticky note on these, too. Give yourself the same amount of time as your purchased TBR. Or you can be even more ruthless and commit to reading the book by its publication date. If you haven't? Get rid of it. And if you did read the ARC, but didn't like it enough to purchase a finished copy? Toss it on the donation pile.

Use The Marie Kondo Method For Weeding Out Old Books

Over the years, I have acquired a few books that might be considered "special." Signed and personalized copies from author events I've attended, special editions, and rediscovered childhood favorites, to name a few categories of said "special" book. But, how many of them am I actually going to cherish these books in the years to come? How many am I keeping just because I think I should? If this sounds familiar to you, this is where the Marie Kondo method of book unhauling comes in. Simply put, if an item does not spark joy in you, it's time to let it go. So, that book you got signed on a whim but didn't love? Say goodbye. It will leave more space for special copies of books you actually want as longtime keepsakes.

Think About Your Preferred Reading Format

Do you only really enjoy memoirs when you listen to them on audio? Do you know you're more likely to read a long book on your e-reader than in its hefty hardback physical form? Go through your shelves and purge any copies of books you own that you would rather consume in a different format, especially if you already own the book in multiple formats. Books are only useful if they're actually read, so holding on to physical copies you won't be annotating, lending out, or even once cracking open is just taking up unnecessary space on your shelves and in your life.

Get Rid Of Books That Have Served Their Purpose

Have you been holding on to college textbooks or other academic resources you know you won't ever use again? There's something about these tomes that makes us want to hold on to them — maybe as tangible proof of the studying hell we went through to get our degrees. But it's time to get rid of that outdated AP Stylebook, and donate the Political Science textbook you're never going to read again. Even if you see yourself one day returning to academia to study a certain subject, I promise that your 2010 Chemistry textbook won't be required for the course, anyway. You'll feel as much relief as you did on graduation day if you toss these books without another thought.

Make A Monthly Commitment To Visit Your Local Library

Instead of putting yourself on a book buying ban, which by its very nature can make you want to shop more than you ever did in the first place, instead make a commitment to use your library more. And think of it this way: you can choose as many book as you want! You can request books you've been dying to read, or just wander through the stacks and pick based on first impressions. And because the books aren't sticking around to clog up every spare space in your home, you can get all of the book buying feels without the instant regret. And the best part is, you'll be saving tons of money while supporting your local library.

Equate Wasted Physical And Mental Space To Wasted Money

One of the biggest arguments against unhauling books that I've heard is that getting rid of books you paid for is like throwing money away. And while I understand the idea behind it, I think it's time to think about the worth of books in other terms besides how much cash they cost. If you're stressing about how many books you have every single time you look at them, or are knocking over teetering stacks to get to your closet every morning, these books have actually sucked up way more than that original $20 you spent on them. It's time to let it go.

Remember That Books Are Not A Finite Resource

If you're still on the fence about unhauling, there's one really simple thing to keep telling yourself: books are not a finite resource. If you ever regret getting rid of a book, you can always find it again. Chances are it's available on your e-reader, on Audible, at the library, or even back on store shelves. By looking at unhauling as a doing something good for your current self, with no real effect whatsoever on your future self, it will probably be a little easier to start purging. Yes, one day you might have that huge library you've always wanted, but for now it's all about filling the life you have now with the book collection that adds to your happiness, not to your stress.