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Question for those who have had tons of books and have downsized them significantly - Page 2

post #21 of 28
Originally Posted by worthy View Post

It was so great to read all of your responses!  I thought I'd check in about my process.  I had a wise friend remind me that I love my books, they are part of who I am and how I function, and it's okay to keep a collection if it means that much in your life.  She is right, I really didn't want to get rid of all of them.  So here is what happened:


First, 26 boxes of "XHs books" went back to him.  Swiftly.  Along with a few stragglers that showed up later. 


So far I have kept all of the kids' storybooks, at their request.  If we don't have space in the new house we'll downsize then.

I also kept one large bookshelf full of homeschool reference books, workbooks, nonfiction reference on interesting topics, and curriculum.  Ditto -- will downsize later if we need to.

We have two small bookshelves in the hallway with kids and young adult chapter books.  The bookshelves are coming with us, so the books can, too.


I collected all of the remaining books and put them all together in one room with a big table for sorting.Then I bought a bunch of extra sturdy bankers boxes at Staples, with lids.  I sorted all the remaining books by topic and tried to limit it to one box per topic, but a couple of topics merited two boxes.  I labeled them by topic.


8 boxes went to the used bookstore, paperbackswap, friends, and a charity book sale.


There are a lot of books.  I think I must have about 25 boxes.  They now live on shelves in my garage and I can easily find what I'm looking for because they're shelved by topic.


When we move, if the space won't support that number of books, I will downsize further, knowing exactly how much space I have to fill.


I also sent 3 boxes of CDs to XH.  The remaining CDs are in a storage cabinet waiting for me to have free time to go through them, put them in thin sleeves, and store properly.  Low priority under current circumstances.


It was a huge, huge project and took a number of days over a few weeks.  I am glad I had the space to spread it all out and assess all at once. 


I realize that ending up with 25 boxes probably doesn't sound like decluttering, but the number of books in the house went down by about 60%, and I consider that a success for now!!


Well done mama! you said that it probably doesn't sound like a lot when you still have 25 boxes left.. But you forget that the first round of decluttering is always the hardest, so IMO you've done brilliantly. Onwards and upwards! thumb.gif

post #22 of 28

I downsized a large book collection myself, and I have to tell you that it is an ongoing process. Being able to bless others helps. I've put a big box of books on my porch and emailed friends telling them to come by and pick through and be blessed. Knowing that people are coming over and may even stop for a visit inspired me to throw more books in, so they wouldn't be disappointed. 


One big realization for me came when I mentally tried to add up all of the hours it would take to read all of the books I had and realized that my life span is not long enough to read them all! Did I really want to spend all of it reading books that were okay but not the best books out there? Was spending time with my kids, spouse, friends, etc., worth reading a mediocre book? It helped me cull a bunch of books that I never seem to want to get to anyway and save just the best or most interesting ones.


I also created a "fire bookcase." If the house was on fire and I could only save one bookcase full of books, which would those be? LOL. It helped me to weed through the ones I really wanted to save.  

post #23 of 28

I think the best way to do this is to take the piles of books in front of an empty book shelf (or two or three, whatever you have), and pick them up and decide what ones you really want on it.

Seeing how much space you (don't) have vs the books really helps.


We got rid of a lot of books before our last move.  I sold most of them, so it felt not like a total loss. 

I kept thinking 'what is the worst that can happen?  If i absolutely regret it, i can buy it again.' and honestly- i did re-buy a few!  =)  But I am still really glad I took the time to decultter.


For CDs, now that so much music is online, they can be a pain to store.  I can't think of how many CDs we had just for one song, yk?

Maybe you load the songs you really like onto the computer and make a few really good mix CDs.

Or maybe at least get those CD books, where you can store a bunch in a little space.

post #24 of 28

I just culled some children's books too. Those are harder for me to do, since I have many fond memories of reading them, but they seem to multiple like bunnies. 

post #25 of 28

Well what worked for me was renting a house infested with silverfish. Nothing reduces a persons affection for books quite like vermin. Not for everybody though.


I found that I had to take several swipes through the books to actually part with them though. Each pass through becomes increasingly more critical. Doing it in phases really made it easier for me.

post #26 of 28

I recently got rid of about 80% of my books.  Here were my criteria:


* Is the book personally inscribed to ME (as opposed to just the author's name signed)?  If so, keep.

* Is the book available in ebook form?  If so, discard.

* Is the book reference material that cannot be found online?  If so, keep.  

* Have I actually read or referred to the book in the past few years?  If not, discard.

post #27 of 28

Job well done, Worthy!  Your culling is a huge accomplishment.


I am a bibliophile.  Plain and simple.  I even make a profession of it, in that I'm a writer of YA novels.  Ten of them, in fact.  I get sent gorgeous new books from my publisher all the time, and review copies from other writers, and swag from conferences, etc.  


But I don't like clutter, and we live in a small space, and someday I hope that we can live on the road, so I've been BRUTAL with myself.

The family has one small collective bookcase (5' x 2') in the living room.  Two shelves for the kids, and two for me. I also have another bookcase in my office, with reference books and treasured novels that I love in a visceral way.


That's it.  


I would make it a priority to do a weekly trip to your library and stock up.  Commit to it and make a day of it. Ask for an exception to the amount of books allowed out, or maximize each family member's card to the hilt.  We currently have 63 books and 6 DVD's on loan from the library.  


As I said before though, awesome progress!

post #28 of 28

Hey, this thread is 8 months old!  lol.gif  But it got me thinking about the roll books play in our lives.  Not everyone has lots of books.  Just having a number of books at all publicly defines us. Some specific books serve to define us, some serve as mementos from stages of our lives, like photo albums.  Maybe it's because my mom, my sisters and my favorite aunt all have extensive book cases, and all keep them central in their front rooms.  The first time I go to someone's home I can't help but glance at their book case if it's in sight. 


I like my Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Jane Austen and Neil Gaiman all in a small-ish book case together, because I think they represent my cultural background to pass on to my kids. Literally and figuratively. 


I've got a college writing book that I kept initially because it's really very useful and practical, and is full of great short stories.  I actually have cracked it open a few times in 26 years. But now it also serves as a memento of a happy time in my life; I got one of my few A's in college in that class. orngbiggrin.gif  So it sits on the shelf next to the rest of the classics I'll never read again- Iliad, Odyssey, Mill on the Floss, Ivanhoe, The Red Tent, Poisonwood Bible, Brigit Jones Diary (yes it is a classic!), Amy Tan's stuff, etc.  


I culled a lot of parenting books (Your Four Year Old, Kids are Worth It, Get Your Kid to Sleep Already or whatever it was called). But for now I've kept the AAP's Caring for Your Baby From Birth to Age Five, even though, or maybe precisely because, my first baby is almost 18 years old.  That book was SO important to me for a few short years.  And it sits there on the book shelf, just as significant to me as the photo of me holding new-born first-born.  It's a bit like a soccer trophy from your childhood, or the tassel from your graduation cap or the topper from your wedding cake and whatever else people keep from stages of their lives. 


Actually, since we're moving, 90% of our books are packed in boxes.  All that's left are my cookbooks, of which some of them can go.  Two of them are completely useless -one is 50 years old and full of things like jellied ham ring, and the other is probably 100 years old and is more of a cooking, cleaning, housekeeping and entertaining encyclopedia from my grandmother's era.


That's another reason I kept the AAP's Caring for Your Baby, maybe someday my daughter will have a baby and she might enjoy getting a glimps of history, of her baby-hood.  


Sorry, not meant to be practical, I'm just contemplating the roll of books in my life. 


Edited to add, I'd say 400 of the  2012 in 2012 in my signature below are books. 

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