Books - keep or get rid of? - Mothering Forums
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Organize & Declutter > Books - keep or get rid of?
frugalmama's Avatar frugalmama 06:41 PM 09-02-2010
We are HSing, so have a lot of books.

I've been debating getting rid of all the books that our public library has to clear space on our shelves and declutter a bit. I've already started not buying it if the library has it {unless it's an impulse buy at the thrift for .45 or less}.

OTOH what if we can't get it when we need it? What if the library gets rid of their copy? I can't afford to pay full price because I need it at the last minute.


laohaire's Avatar laohaire 06:48 PM 09-02-2010
I used to be very attached to my collection of book, but now that we've been using the library and interlibrary loan for so long, I'm not so attached and am ready to give away a good amount.

However, reference books are a "keep," imho.

Do you have mostly reference books? What books will you "need" on any given day? I would think fiction and classics would be safe bets to give away; the library will surely have To Kill a Mockingbird or Johnny Tremain.

Not knowing what's in your collection, it's just hard for me to say. Picturing mine, I have some reference items that I would keep. I'm not far along in homeschooling, so honestly the only homeschooling book I would keep is What Your Kindergartner Should Know. Otherwise I'd keep The Encyclopedia of Country Living, When Technology Fails, various go-to cookbooks, some references we have on electronic circuitry, a medical reference, stuff like that. I'd say goodbye to my Jean Auel collection (not sure about my Harry Potter collection though), all my sociology books I've prized for so many years, finance books, etc. I could probably get rid of 80% of my books. And I will, when I get around to it. So many projects, so little time.
frugalmama's Avatar frugalmama 06:52 PM 09-02-2010
We have lots of children's fiction {some out of print}, science books, childrens fiction series, and adult theology books. The theology books are not going I'm sure.
ltlmrs's Avatar ltlmrs 09:34 PM 09-02-2010
I'd probably be in the minority here, but I would get rid of a lot of things before I'd get rid of books. Honestly, I could deal with having two days worth of clothes (though it wouldn't be fun), no furniture, etc. but not without our books.

That said, here are the books I've gotten rid of over the years:
- Popular series (like Harry Potter, Boxcar Kids, etc), though we had very few of these
- Most of my college textbooks: I kept most of my science/math books, but got rid of political science, econ, anthropology, etc. I've kept the best supplementary books that I got in these subjects, though, when I knew they were the standards in their fields.
- Books that we've never read AND when honest had no intention to read
- Books that we don't like (the exceptions to this are works of philosophy/theology by significant thinkers with opposite viewpoints)
- Books that were outdated or reference works that don't get used
- Most of my cookbooks and gardening/homesteading books: I've limited myself to one shelf for each category, meaning the things we have are the best on the topic.
- Individual children's books/stories if we had more than one copy or if that story was in an anthology that we had (for example, I got rid of books that had one fairy tale if that fairy tale was in our volume of fairy tales) and most picture books
- Books on current events/commentary
- Most biographies
The above includes most of the books I've gotten at used book sales for $1 or less because they looked interesting and were cheap.

Things I've kept and will keep:
- Sound theology and philosophy
- Classic literature
- Anything by the Greeks/Romans
- Language textbooks (I did go through them to get rid of ones that weren't very good) and books written in foreign languages that we can read
- DH's books
- Children's books that I want my children to read over and over

My mother had a rule for us kids growing up: if we found ourselves checking a particular book from the library over and over, she'd buy it. I think that's a good rule for kids' books, except for classic children's literature. I don't even remember most of the stuff I borrowed from the library as a kid. This is the rule I'll have for my children's "leisure reading."

My problem with the library is that they do not always have the books I need and if they do, it's usually checked out or worse, it's lost. I do make an effort to check out a book from the library before buying it though (I've avoided buying many books that were not worth the money this way).

I already have many of the homeschooling books I'll use with Ladybug and my rule is "less is more." I'd rather have one fantastic book that can be used as a textbook for a few years, then several mediocre actual textbooks that are based on some "curriculum." One example off the top of my head is The Handbook of Nature Study versus a bunch of science textbooks.

BTW, when my mother taught me to read I had only two or three "readers." I read those over and over and then jumped straight into fairy tales.

Also, I'm not a fan of electronic readers. When the electricity turns off (which happens frequently here), we'll always have books. We have the Robinson Homeschool Curriculum on CD and to be honest, I think I'm going to find the books I like most and hunt down used hard copies.
lucyem's Avatar lucyem 01:35 PM 09-03-2010
Most libraries have interlibrary loan these days so even if your library gets rid of it they should be able to get it.

I go through a book purge every few years. I put them on paperback swap and if they do not go within a few months they go to the library book sale.

I do keep various reference books and some classics and some favorites. But I have noticed with fiction my tastes do change. Yesterday I think I put another 20+ books on paperback swap. I realized I had no interest in them anymore. Cookbooks I use a lot I keep but I have a few that I copied the couple of recipes I liked and swapped them.
ChristinaLucia's Avatar ChristinaLucia 07:21 PM 09-03-2010
We got rid of over 2000 books and I feel great about it! Like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
jillmamma's Avatar jillmamma 07:41 PM 09-06-2010
Have you considered a Kindle or similar to use for some of them? I know several older classics are even free to download.
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mattemma04 08:23 AM 09-07-2010
I had stacks of books on the floors and in the closets. I got rid of many of them.I hardly ever used them.If I need a specific one I can go to the library.With books being 25 cents at the thrift I am finding it hard to not buy more at times,but it has gotten easier to donate them.I do not miss the piles of books all over!
OkiMom's Avatar OkiMom 09:10 PM 09-07-2010
I get rid of anything that I don't plan on rereading or that the girls aren't interested in. I get most of the girls books for .25 or less at the thrift store (with exceptions for books I KNOW they will like that I will buy full price). Our library stinks so depending on the library just isn't practical for us.
zebra15's Avatar zebra15 04:21 AM 09-09-2010
Originally Posted by ChristinaLucia View Post
We got rid of over 2000 books and I feel great about it! Like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
Thats ALOT of books....

I have been using While its hit or miss the small checks every couple weeks are nice.
proudmomof4's Avatar proudmomof4 05:26 AM 09-09-2010
Start with the books nobody really likes (the ones that always get shoved back in the shelf) and work from there.
Are there any books you or your children have "outgrown"?
If the library can't get a book you need there's always omazon, bookswap, betterwordbooks etc., so you should probably be generous there.
echospiritwarrior's Avatar echospiritwarrior 08:42 AM 09-09-2010
At a beginning of the year purge I got rid of 150 books, and I've tried to continue (scouring my bookshelves and asking if I will REALLY use this over and over) and it feels GREAT!

I do make a lot more trips to the library now, but my children that too!
Tradd's Avatar Tradd 03:42 PM 09-09-2010
Just a caveat if someone was thinking of doing this:

Do NOT donate books to your library and expect them to be added to the library's collection so you can check out the books you once owned. That does NOT happen with some, maybe a lot, of libraries.

The Friends of the Libary organizations at many of the suburban libraries around me gather books for a big book sale fundraiser once or twice a year. To my knowledge, my library keeps NONE of the donated books. NONE.

Every now and then I run into people online who say they're going to donate their books to the library and they will continue to check them out afterwards. That's not the case, at least with the libraries around me.
greenluv's Avatar greenluv 04:08 PM 09-09-2010
I have a love of books and am buried in them at the moment.

I'm just wondering if there's a good online place to sell them?? I'm thinking that only for text books, right?
Tradd's Avatar Tradd 10:12 PM 09-09-2010
Originally Posted by greenluv View Post
I have a love of books and am buried in them at the moment.

I'm just wondering if there's a good online place to sell them?? I'm thinking that only for text books, right?
Amazon! I have sold THOUSANDS of dollars worth on Amazon over the past 10 years or so. It's much less hassle than eBay, etc. Love it!
limabean's Avatar limabean 09:31 PM 09-13-2010
I keep the absolutely wonderful ones, pass the good ones along to friends, and donate the rest to the library once a year.

I used to keep all of them and then just sort of ... got over it one day. I realized that I'd rather have those books out being enjoyed by others than sit on my shelf untouched. I probably only keep 1 out of every 10 books that I buy/borrow.
proudmomof4's Avatar proudmomof4 11:45 AM 09-15-2010
Originally Posted by limabean View Post
i keep the absolutely wonderful ones, pass the good ones along to friends, and donate the rest to the library once a year.

I used to keep all of them and then just sort of ... Got over it one day. i realized that i'd rather have those books out being enjoyed by others than sit on my shelf untouched. i probably only keep 1 out of every 10 books that i buy/borrow.
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna 11:56 AM 09-15-2010
I wouldn't use the fact that the library has it as the definer. Libraries cull their collections regularly too. If you need the space, I'd prioritize based on usefulness and how much you like it.
AllyRae's Avatar AllyRae 12:21 PM 09-15-2010
Originally Posted by ltlmrs View Post

Also, I'm not a fan of electronic readers. When the electricity turns off (which happens frequently here), we'll always have books. We have the Robinson Homeschool Curriculum on CD and to be honest, I think I'm going to find the books I like most and hunt down used hard copies.
I have an e-reader (a kindle wireless only), and it's battery can read a kindle without electricity.

I'm actually a big fan of my kindle, and am slowly transitioning all my homeschool curriculum and books over to it, and eventually I'll likely buy kindle versions of my cookbooks just to clear room off the shelves. I have no real attachment to turning actual pages of a book, so the kindle's a pretty good idea for people like me who don't care about the actual paper part, but wants to keep a lot of books for reference without the clutter.
GearGirl's Avatar GearGirl 07:23 PM 09-19-2010
I love books but they are something I've decided to de-clutter and have pretty much done so. I hate the look of bookshelves filled with books (and dust!) anywhere except for a designated reading room and since I don't have even a chance of having a house with enough space for that around here I just started de-cluttering them. One thing that helped is moving, and another thing that is helping me now is that I buy almost all of my books on Kindle (on my iphone), because it saves me $ and space. I don't really miss books as paper much.
lizziejeen's Avatar lizziejeen 09:44 PM 09-19-2010
I have got ridden of a lot of books, but DH has 25-year-old textbooks that he insists on keeping. Arrgh!
greenmulberry's Avatar greenmulberry 07:25 PM 09-20-2010
I always am for getting rid of books, unless it is a book I am fairly certain I will read again.

If you EVER move again, you will be so glad you don't have boxes of books to move. I just see no reason to keep them. I rarely read a book twice.

But I am very pro getting rid of clutter. I just feel happier with less clutter.

I take mine to the used book store and trade them in for cash/credit.
sunnysandiegan's Avatar sunnysandiegan 11:36 PM 09-20-2010
We use several different libraries for pretty much all fiction and a good portion of our nonfiction reading.

Our city library has a branch a half-mile from our house, so we walk there frequently and we "order" (free interlibrary loan) books online to be picked up there within the city library system.

Our county library has a branch a half-mile from DH's work, so he walks there on his lunch hour and we "order" (free interlibrary loan) books online to be picked up there within the county library system. The county system is SOOO MUCH BETTER than the city system!!!

DD's school has a library and she borrows books weekly during the school year (year-round school).

DD's teacher has boxes of books available to his students for use during the school day. If DD liked any of those books, he would let her take them home. Instead, she prefers a different teacher's collection and she (the teacher) lets DD borrow her books whenever she wishes. All her teachers quickly discover DD's passion for reading and the fact that she takes good care of books. They have all brought her special books from their private collections at different points to enjoy.

When DD was younger, DH's mom packed our suitcases (and hers) with a collection of books from the older cousins whenever we visited (or she visited us). DD is the youngest of six grandchildren (and there aren't likely to be anymore at this point), so we've passed these along to friends and teachers and libraries as DD has outgrown them.

We personally haven't purchased all that many books for DD due to all of the above. She always has plenty of books in her bedroom to keep her happy and she LOVES to read!

DH & I also enjoy reading and we borrow most of our books from the libraries, as well. He purchases some reference books in his professional field (some are reimbursed by his boss). I preview some nonfiction books through the libraries and decide I want to own them, so I buy some (certain topics).

All of DH & I's books fit in a tall Billy bookcase in our family office -- neatly organized and everything. All of DD's books fit in her bedroom on shelves above her dressers -- neatly organized and everything. Hers are loosely filled because she also has meaningful items on the same shelves. We have a few "coffee table" type books in the living room along with our scrapbooks and photo albums in another tall Billy bookcase (just three small sections). We have the perfect blend of owned and borrowed books for our family.
Danidama's Avatar Danidama 09:31 AM 09-21-2010
sunnysandiegan, your home sounds lovely. I'm nuts for reading, and it's been my most favorite thing to do all my life, but we don't have that many books. I have all my favorites, and dd has many great ones (200 or so for both of us, I'd say; way down from the hundreds and hundreds I used to have!), but we will be moving cross country at some point soon, so I've tried to keep it to our favorites (plus a bunch of extra dd books that will be given to friends before we leave), and we can bring those with us. Then when we're finally settled for good, I'm happy to say that we'll have plenty of great books of whatever sort we want, and won't have to worry too much about whether to let certain ones go or not.

We also have a great library two blocks away, so it's a lot of fun to check out anything we want, or putting books on hold. I had to return Simplicity Parenting yesterday, as it was due yesterday! I usually get things back in way before they're due, but I couldn't renew it as it's on hold for someone else. I'll have to check it out again because I didn't finish it and it was -awesome-. A fantastic book. That's definitely one I want to buy someday for our house. Anyway, I'm totally off on a tangent here, but that's just how I roll when I happen to feel like posting. Just had to talk about it to folks who might understand, heh.. I love to read, I love books, and if it wasn't for the dust and breathing issue, I would have tons, even though I prefer a minimal amount of things in my home. Libraries are really great, if you've got one nearby. That is all.
sunnysandiegan's Avatar sunnysandiegan 01:54 PM 09-22-2010
Thanks Danidama!
luvmybaby333's Avatar luvmybaby333 02:03 PM 09-22-2010
I think that unless you could not ever see yourself reading something again (such as in the case of a novel you just absolutely didn't like and doubt anyone else in your family will either), then I would not get rid of ANY books. As you pointed out, your library could get rid of it. You could also need a particular book and not be able to make it to a library. There are all sorts of reasons why it's nice to have your own copy of something.

I guess I'm of the mind that books are one of those things you can't really scrimp on. A family can get by with only a few outfits each, or only a few toys each, or only the bare essentials in the kitchen, etc. But books? You can really never have enough, IMO.
PeacefulSeams's Avatar PeacefulSeams 05:55 PM 10-03-2010
I once had quite a large collection of books but we moved so I gave most of them away. I went from 8 large bookshelves full to 2 shelves on 1 bookcase.
I kept 3 of my anne rice books because they were the last gift i received from my grandma. I have my complete edgar allen poe collection(in 1 book yay), a few books on buddhism, cold mountain(my fave book), 2or 3 other non fiction books, 1 cookbook. My kids have 2 harry potter books, a few picture books and a few reference books. When he is done reading a book he sells it at half priced books and picks out a new one with the money he gets.
Village Mama's Avatar Village Mama 06:14 PM 10-03-2010
We have a huge amount of books in our house. I think we have 5 bookshelves in an 800 square foot home. Two of those are floor to ceiling. We keep mostly referance books in our house. We have audobon/ nature feild guides including weather, mineral, mushrooming books. Another shelf is referance books like dictionaries, atlases, language dictionaries. We have a section of Boy mechanic activity type books for the boys and a basic section of craft referance books. I have my own shelf of herbal, medical, anatomy stuff with encyclopedias for natural health remedies... oh, and a cookbook shelf! We have another of Country living, foxfire , survivalist stuff. My hubby has a bookcase of academic and religious texts as well as classic literature. These is our pared down collection of often used and referred to books. The boys have a shelf in thier room with thier own books that we go through every 6 months or so and give some to the thrift store and some to the consignment book store for credit. We have one shelf of books that we hardly use that is homelearning stuff... science experiments, fun ideas and games, curriculum ideas and art and craft ideas. We try to do a MAJOR household purge every year of books. Same theory as the kids room... thrift store for some, bookstore for credit for others.
Plus we have about 50 books out at a time from the library. Sigh. Talk about attachment!
Books are really one of the few things that I don't feel too guilty having too many of though!
PeacefulSeams's Avatar PeacefulSeams 01:21 PM 12-17-2010

I used to have books everywhere. Now I am down to 1 tiny shelf for me and 1 for my kids. DS LOVES reading so we mostly check books out at the library but there are a few that he loves so much that I just decided to buy a copy. My little DS has 3-4 board books. I have a few books that were gifts from my grandmother, My Dhammapada, a few green clean books and a copy of my 2 favorite books.


It was hard at first but then it got easier and now I regularly purge because even though I only have a few books.....nothing stops me from picking up more books at the thrift store for .50. lol

coyotemist's Avatar coyotemist 05:57 PM 12-17-2010

 I have a lot of craft/Waldorf type books, herbals, a few textbooks and study materials (I still need to take another set of exams for my advanced credentials).  We have  a basket and 2 shelves of little kid books, and a larger bookshelf of bigger kid books.    I've decluttered most novels except those I read again and again (Clan of the Cave Bear series, Outlander series, Eragon series).  My opinion is similar to Village Mama's, I can get by with 3 pairs of pants, but I need something new to read all the time!

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