If you’re a long-term booklover, chances are that you have had to cull your books at least once. We hit this point on a yearly basis – usually when we’ve reached the point where our titles have begun to take over the floor space, as well as countertops, drawers and chairs.
For much of this time, we’re in denial. We tell ourselves that we’ll find a way to keep them all. We go through all the potential solutions until eventually it becomes obvious that we’ll have to do that most dreaded of deeds and part with a few of our precious titles.
At first, it seems impossible, but on closer inspection, we often find that we can rationalise our library. These are some of the questions that we ask ourselves and hopefully they’ll help you too:
Will I reread this book?
I think this is a pretty good indication of whether you should keep a book or not. We find that we usually get rid of around 20 books a year based on this question alone.
If it’s an absolute no, don’t let it take up your shelf space. If it’s a maybe, then it’s probably not worth risking getting rid of the title at this point. If it’s a firm yes – then keep it.
Have I ever read this book?
The TBR pile is a constant in our lives, but sometimes we have books that gather dust for years. We all know the culprits.
If you still haven’t got around to picking a title up, then give yourself a realistic deadline to finish it. I’d suggest at least three months and up to a year. Store the title in a prominent place and set reminders. If you don’t read it by the alloted time, then maybe it’s time to pass it on.
Do I own duplicate editions of this title?
If you have a large home library or have recently combined your book collection with someone else’s then it’s worth finding out whether you have duplicate editions of a book.
Admittedly this tactic won’t help you to cull your books significantly, but it could result in a few trims. We’ve been surprised by how many repeats we’ve discovered in the last few years.
Am I only holding onto this book for sentimental reasons?
Guilty! I still hold onto books because they’ve been written by people I vaguely know, or because I’ve received them as a gift even though they haven’t completely rocked my world.
Truthfully I feel ready to cull these books but sentiment gets in the way. I know I should be more ruthless but when heart enters the equation, it’s a much more difficult decision. However, if you absolutely need the extra space then this has to be a consideration.
Do I need to hand this book back to the person I borrowed it off?
Own up! Do you have books that you’ve borrowed and not given back yet? If you’re an avid reader then it’s a distinct possibility that you commit this bookish crime on a semi-regular basis. Time to confess and return the book back to its rightful owner.
Would someone else I know enjoy reading this book more?
Gifting books is a pleasure and if you haven’t read The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane, go buy or borrow it now! You may be uncertain about a title but someone else may love it so why not give it to them? That way, the book gets a good home and you make someone’s day. Win-win!
Do you have to cull your books or can you store them differently?
Of course, the ideal is not to have cull your books at all, which means more bookshelves or wiser purchases. Our post on creative ways to display books might give you a few ideas on how to find extra storage spaces. There’s always a way to find more room even if it means remodelling your house!