Question for those who have had tons of books and have downsized them significantly - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 02-01-2012, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you offer me any helpful advice on how to go about that process?

I have spent the past several months decluttering, cleaning out, re-organizing, simplifying, preparing for whatever comes next, resetting the feng shui, sweeping out the emotional and psychological cobwebs, etc etc etc. I've made good progress.

But I haven't touched the books or CDs. I am faced with (literally) a lifetime's library of books. Some are XH's and will go back to him, and some we'll have to divide up, but I'm solely responsible for many of them, and I am recoiling from the idea of putting those back in the garage in boxes for another twenty years.

With the recent thaw, the garage is warm enough to work in, and I pulled a bunch of "book boxes" out into an area where they can sit quietly (and more warmly) until I am inspired to start going through them.

We have an organized "garage library" of alphabetized file boxes (fiction, by author) and Rubbermaid tubs (nonfiction, by subject). They are on shelves, tidy, out of the way. Right now the issue is more the overflow books...yesterday I pulled out sixteen boxes, and I have at least four boxes up in my bedroom as well.

This is all not counting what's on shelves in the house, which at this point is mostly homeschooling-related, picture books, YA fiction, or nonfiction of potential interest to the kids. That stuff can wait longer.

Oh, wait, and we have a glass cabinet that is STUFFED with books that I need to go through.

Problem is, I love my books. They are interesting and useful. I collect mostly nonfiction, and I have quite extensive collections of homesteading/self-sufficiency (very wide category there), pregnancy/birth, breastfeeding, parenting, homeschooling books. I also have all of my books from college courses, including a serious number of women's studies and anthropology books. I also have a large collection of music-related books, including music reference books, instrumental learning books, vocal scores, theory books, etc.

Also this year has brought an absolute blizzard of self-help books. I'm not sure I'm done with them yet, even though I have devoured them as quickly as they have arrived.

I've spent years collecting most of my books. Okay, some of my books are not critical to keep, but how to tell which ones? I have comprehensive collections in some cases -- if there are 7 books on the topic, I have all 7. Maybe I don't need all 7. But I am afraid of downsizing and regretting my choice. Urgh.

I do not want to part with the "best" reference books. The in-state ILL system here in VT is nowhere near as fabulous as the MA system -- you MA folks don't know how good you have it. Also we are 1/2 hour from any library. So "just use the library" isn't terribly reassuring.

I think the fiction is either mostly going to XH or staying in my garage for the foreseeable future (as the boys are constantly dipping into those boxes). I'm not so worried about dealing with that just yet. I'm mostly concerned with downsizing my wonderful nonfiction. Because really, I don't need or want a trailer-full following me around for the rest of my life, and I could literally fill a trailer right now.

There are a plethora of used book stores around, and I have a friend who sells books online who will give me a 50% cut of her profit, and I'm active at paperbackswap, and there's a used book drop at the town dump, and our homeschool group is always quick to snap up freebies, and our church does a book sale every year, so I have plenty of relatively easy and potentially profitable outlets for finding new homes for the books I decide not to keep. That is not the issue.

Also, we have about a thousand million CDs that we need to do something with. Much easier to cope with than books, mostly because I don't care about most of them, but still -- suggestions welcome on that front as well. I'm thinking of ripping them to an external hard drive and legally discarding the CDs. Pros and cons of this plan are welcome.

Tell me, how did you do it? How does one do this? Surely some of you bibliophiles who have ever moved, have downsized your book/CD collections...I need encouragement, inspiration, and emotional/practical tools...


- single homeschooling mom to 16, 14, almost-12, and 10
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#2 of 28 Old 02-02-2012, 07:57 PM
 
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I think that with any beloved treasue, you must be brutally honest with yourself.  Go through your books and truly ask yourself if you will read and love them again.  If you find yourself hemming and hawwing, and trying to justify the book/item-that one probably needs to go.  It doesn't matter when you bought it, how much you spent on it, if "maybe, someday' you'll read it again...if its not useful to you now or the foreseeable  future, its time to move on.  Are you going to learn that instrument anytime soon?  Have another child?  Etc...

Good luck, and don't worry if you have to go through the culling process more than once. 

 

Recently the hubby and I went through our books and got down from six shelves to just over two.  We were able to clear out the hallway from the bookshelves, and put them on a leaning shelf in our room amongst the beloved knicknacks.  Now they aren't constantly destroyed by very small children, and we have a nice empty space in our little hallway, making the apartment feel so much less cramped. 

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#3 of 28 Old 02-04-2012, 09:31 AM
 
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You obviously love your books or else you wouldn't have written such a long post justifying them ;)

 

I know, I know.  I love books, too, and so does my mom.  She and I both have had custom built bookcases made for both our homes.  And for all the folks out there who say you can read it on kindle or just have an mp3 instead of CD or *gasp* vinyl record, well, that is just heresy to biblio/audiophiles.

 

So, are you moving?  Do you know what kind of space you'll have?  Would it be feasible to just have a whole wall of books in your living room or even bedroom?  (you can always put a dining table or bed right up next to a bookshelf)

 

Books, records, CDs, are always the *last* stuff to get sorted through and decluttered because of the sheer strength of energy you've got to tap into to get the stuff physically moved.  Heavy, bulky stuff!  It's not like you're reorganizing your spice rack or underwear drawer, so maybe give yourself a break and enjoy your books?  Or give yourself a reasonable deadline to pare them down by 1/3?


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#4 of 28 Old 02-04-2012, 03:32 PM
 
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I am an avid reader and always have been. But I also love having space in my house that isn't every surface covered with stuff, books, cd's etc. 

 

I have four kids that are home schooled as well. I have a husband whose job means that we move probably every 5-10 yrs for the rest of our lives. 

 

I have 30 personal books in my living room. I have one shelf of books for my children. It is 11 feet of books for kids. Other than that, we really don't have any books (aside from hubbies work books, which mostly get stored at the office anyway.)

 

You said that library wasn't a good option, but that said, I live in a very small town in Alberta and manage to get all the books we need and more by ordering online. Surely you go to town once in awhile to pick up groceries? Couldn't books you need be put on order and then you could pick them up when you go into town?

 

What if you were to donate many of your books and cd's to the library and then they would have some of them if you needed to reference them?

 

I kept all of my university textbooks for years and finally got to a point where I realized that a) I wasn't going to open them again b) I had already learned what there was to learn from them and c) any info I need on the subject would most likely be findable on the internet and/or have changed significantly since university. Books i chose to keep include my favourite (as in top 5) novels, so i can lend them to friends/reread them, a few that i reference or use as inspiration (dr sears baby book, unschooling books, peaceful parenting books) and beloved kids books or ones i think they might be interested in very soon. our kids are so computer literate that they go to the internet for information anyway....as opposed to looking in a science book, etc.

 

I guess for me it just come down to the immense pleasure i get from hauling out another heavy box of stuff i'm not using, getting it out of my space and life. I find it liberating, inspiring, and i feel like my life and space are brighter and more breathable without. I have not regretted simplifying. not even once,

 

(please excuse the crummy typing, nak).

 

A friend and i did a challenge where we would each get rid of a hundred pounds of stuff. books go a long way to accomplishing that goal :)

 

Anno

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#5 of 28 Old 02-04-2012, 04:53 PM
 
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Can't help you with the decision-making process, but I wanted to give a warning, of sorts.

 

My aunt - a hoarder of sorts - had a house-fire last week. At least 65% or more of her hoard was books - that she, indeed, read, and wrote copious notes in and referred back to - but, none-the-less, she had lots of books in her small house. Huge fire hazard - along with the collectibles, furniture, artwork, and clothing - but it was the books that had to be hosed with water for 30 minutes to be sure the fire was out and there was no smoldering. And it was the soaking wet books that contributed to further structural damage over the past week before she could get the permits in place to go inside and try to recover some things.


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#6 of 28 Old 02-04-2012, 07:44 PM
 
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Just playing devil's advocate here...  I love my books too, and especially my non-fiction collection.  But...  If they're out in your garage right now, how much are you really using them?  You can justify just about anything as potentially useful, but whether it is of use or just clutter depends entirely on if you actually use it.  How much can you really enjoy them right now?  IMO, you may be justified in keeping every single one of those books, provided you use them regularly and display them proudly.  If they are going to languish in the garage "just in case", then they become clutter.

 

Personally, I'd keep the timeless reference materials that are relevant to your career and lifestyle.  For example, I was given the past 30 years of Mother Earth News magazines by an elderly friend.  While I don't look through them every day, I consider them reference material, and they are relevant to my lifestyle.  They are also organized and accessible.  My college astronomy textbook?  Sold.  While there was fascinating material in it, and I enjoyed the class immensely, it is simply not relevant to my life right now.  If I do have an astronomy question that arises, I can use the internet or the library.  Perhaps write down the ISBNs somewhere so that if you do find that you miss a particular book enough to want to own it again, you could buy it through half.com or Amazon.

 

Good luck!


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#7 of 28 Old 02-05-2012, 04:12 AM
 
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#8 of 28 Old 02-05-2012, 04:52 AM
 
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There are a lot of questions I'll ask myself to weed out books:

 

Am I ever going to read this again? 

 

Can I get this information on the internet?

 

Is this book easily obtained again?

 

Did I forget I even had this book?

 

Is this something I've always thought I was interested in, but can't be bothered to invest more time than just buying a book about it?

 

I've done major cleanouts of my book collection several times by necessity, and I can tell you, the ones you keep become treasures once they're not mixed in with all the meaningless ones, and I've only regretted getting rid of a couple of books. So out of the thousands I've let go of, that's a pretty good batting average.

 

 

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#9 of 28 Old 02-05-2012, 07:41 AM
 
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Another bibliophile here, shuddering at having to make a decision as yours. Though really, I should before my university books become outdated and can't be sold any longer.

 

Anyhow, I would start by dividing your books into two categories: books with information that will be outdated by the time your children are adults, and books with information that is timeless.

 

An example of the former would be my books on election processes and systems in different countries. They really will be useless in a couple of years, since the information is ever changing.An example of the later would be my philosophy books. Even if there's constantly new research in the field, generally speaking the basic knowledge pool remains rather static over time.

 

Sell the books that will be outdated. Every, single one of them. Then, you can look at the remaining piles.

 

I think the next step would be to divide the books according to subjects. For example, put all gardening books in one pile and all child rearing books in another and all cooking books in a third.

 

Now, for the next sorting stage you are NOT allowed to open any of the books in the piles. Look at the cover and the title, and try to remember why you like that particular book (nice pictures for inspiration, good writing etc.). If you can't, the book goes into the "for sale" box.

 

Now, even if your heart aches, you should have boxed a few books away.

 

Next step is to contemplate if you need to keep the whole book. For example, a cook book of 200 pages might contain your absolute favourite cake, but the rest is rather "blah". Keeping one such cook book is no huge deal, but when you have thirty you need to do something about it. Perhaps copying your favourite recipes, putting them into a ring binder, might be an option that allows you to let go of the actual cook books? The same goes for gardening books etc. You might not need anything but the section on bugs in one book, and the section on carrots in another. Combine them into ring binders, instead of holding on to each book. That way, you still have things on paper. In hard copy. You have not lost the vital information.

 

Hopefully, you should have a smaller collection by the end of this process.

 

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#10 of 28 Old 02-05-2012, 11:16 PM
 
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#11 of 28 Old 02-08-2012, 01:27 PM
 
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I love books too,   sometimes when I have a goodwill run ready,  I will try to add a bag of books,    bit by bit seems easier for me.   One thing I have done is get a kindle and try to get electronic versions of any new books to cut down on accumulations,   between that and the library I am at least not growing my collection.

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#12 of 28 Old 02-08-2012, 03:40 PM
 
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Move seven times, that will cure you. smile.gif

 

If I had as many books as I read, I'd be living in a large library. It's just not feasible, so I have to make do with e-books. I'd love to have more books than I currently have, especially fancier ones like art albums, etc., but it does not make sense, household-wise.

 

I love paper books, always did, but I've learned to appreciate e-books and online books - I even remember pages and form attachments to custom background colors on some websites.

 

My mom does not plan on moving and has just purchased two bookcases, but she's been reading e-books for a while, too. And she uses the library as well.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, even if physical presence of books becomes smaller in your house, you can adjust and the reading flow can remain the same. It's not that bad, really.

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#13 of 28 Old 02-08-2012, 06:54 PM
 
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I set a limit of how many I would allow myself to keep and that limit was based on the space I had to display them for easy reading and access.  Then went through all of them, filled boxes and donated them to the library quickly before I changed my mind.  It was the best decision ever.  Since then I have had more people give me books.  I really need to do this process again this spring, thankfully it will be on a much smaller scale than the huge one.  

 


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#14 of 28 Old 02-17-2012, 11:39 AM
 
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I just did a big declutter among our books. Ugh. I try to do it at least once a year, but it's still somewhat painful. For fiction, I only keep books I have read more than once, or know I will read again. So, I have about 15. Get rid of your university textbooks. All of them. I mean, unless you currently work in your field of study and actually refer to them regularly, in which case, you should just keep them at your workplace. Done. 

Kids books are harder, especially if you have avid readers, but I think you can apply the same multiple-read rule. If the book has been read, and the kid(s) weren't so taken with it that they are willing to read it again and again, then it goes. 

I have totally done with cookbooks what the pp mentioned, and haven't missed the physical books at all. Well worth the time it took to transcribe the recipes. I have also learned that most cookbooks are available online, somehow. If you type in, say, "Moosewood" and something approximating the title of the recipe, google will spew out what you need. 

Reference books are harder, hey? But, again, which ones do you use? Get rid of the ones you haven't opened in three years, or whatever amount of time. 

We haven't shelled out the big bucks for the i-tech stuff, and my mp3 player is terrible, so we actually hang on to cds. They take up a whole heck of a lot less room if you buy a dc binder and slide the liner notes in behind every cd, and then throw out the case.

 

I'm pretty committed to simple, to not hanging on to things, and to having an open, clear, minimal space to live in. That said, books are one of the only things that I am NOT militant about. We have shelves that look decent, and they're full. Not exploding or chaotic, but they're full. Books, to me, have a lot of value. We're pretty poor, and we probably always will be, but I feel rich when there are actual, paper books in our home. Classics, and references we consult regularly stay put. And I think we ARE rich!


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#15 of 28 Old 02-17-2012, 05:33 PM
 
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I love books. I have a great deal of non-fiction as well. Some of it was difficult to find. While I have a close library their selection rarely meets my needs and the ILL system sucks. Here are some things I did to organize and weed my library.

 

CDs (and DVDs) are all in binders now. I freecycled the cases. The DVDs are divided into grown up and kids and the CDS are by genre (mostly). As I was going along I saved some of the music to my computer. I was concerned about the legality of having music electronically without a physical CD or record of purchase. We're not terribly into music so this accounts for a very small amount of space. DH wanted to keep a lot of the inserts and covers. 

 

Catalog - I used LibraryThing to catalog my books. They all had to be touched to put in the catalog so I assessed the keepability of each one. This also helped me identify a number of duplicates. You can buy a z-bar reader from them for $10 or there's an app that works with Android phones. This reads the ISBN off of the cover. Their system pulls all the bibliographic information from Amazon or the Library of Congress (among other places) so you do minimal typing. You can also us tags to help you organize the books. I have a code for what room and shelf each one is on. 

 

Some things will never go out of print and/or can be found online. There are a ton of free classics such as Shakespeare online. You don't need a Kindle or any special device to read them. A lot of my English lit went away when I finally wrapped my head around this. (I still have a half dozen translations of Beowulf though.)

 

Periodicals - is it cataloged or indexed somewhere? If there is no way to figure out when a specific topic you might need appeared then pass them along. (In my LibraryThing catalog I keep the link to each kept periodical's index.)

 

Kindle - I got one for Christmas and have so far only bought books for it. (Except for a graphic novel and books about fossils for my DD's science fair project (the local library only had a couple) and a highly specific reference that finally became available.)

 

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#16 of 28 Old 05-08-2012, 09:16 AM
 
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As someone who worked at libraries for many years in the past I had a pretty active collection.  However I pared down a bunch, mainly in waves.  

 

Our library system is very large thankfully, so now I consider that system 'our books'.  I pretty much got rid of everything that wasn't a reference book that I could easily get there.  There are a few which I kept which are really hard to find books that I read occasionally.  

 

I wanted to get it down to what I really 'needed' and not what I wanted.  There are lots of books that I like, etc. however I can get them out of the library.  I do not need to devote a ton of space to books in my house.


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#17 of 28 Old 05-08-2012, 10:17 PM
 
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> But I
> am afraid of downsizing and regretting my choice. Urgh.
 
I think that this is the critical thing here. There is no way of being sure that you won't make a mistake. I think that it's important to accept, even embrace, the possibility of error. No, the inevitability of error. There will be errors. There will be regrets. There will be books that you miss and wish you had again.
 
I think that I gave away Susan Khalje's _Bridal Couture_. Now that I'm sewing again, I learn that it's one of the very few good works on sewing formalwear, it's out of print, and a used copy will cost me well over a hundred dollars. Oh, well; it's done, and while I'd be pleased to go back in time and snatch _that_ book out of the outgoing box, I don't regret the decluttering process that resulted in its loss.
 
So I argue that your strategies shouldn't be about eliminating errors, or perfectly optimizing the final collection, but about tending to maximize the value of that final collection and tending to reduce regrets.
 
I used to have a bazillion books. They've been cut by probably eighty percent, and I've formed the habit of getting rid of, I'd say, nine out of ten books within six months of having bought and read them. The things that I consider when making these decisions usually take the form of questions:
 
- Is this likely to fall out of print anytime soon? Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and Stephen King and hundreds of others are going to be around for a very, very long time. Even if they slip out of print without my noticing, they'll be available used for decades past that time. So even though I love Agatha Christie, I don't store her books - I occasionally check one out of the library and return it, or buy one used and resell it or give it away. The same is true of dozens of other authors. 
 
- Do I read this author frequently? If I do, do I read _all_ of their books frequently or only a subset? I have a guilty fondness for the works of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. I used to keep them all. But I realized that I only re-read a small subset of them. I want most of the Georgetown series, but I only need one of the Emerson Family series at a time. I love most of Charlotte MacLeod's Kelling series, but her Peter Shandy series leaves me cold - and I can be pretty content with only the best two or three of the Kelling series, for that matter.
 
- Do I have multiple sources for the same information? Which are my favorite? I'm worried less about which is _best_, because it's really not that likely that I will optimize any pursuit to the point that I must have the very, very best, most encyclopedic, most advanced books on a subject. Instead, I want the ones that inspire me the most and are fun to read. I once had a wonderful reference on tending ornamental plants, with all sorts of detailed information that was easy to look up, but it bored me and left me cold. So it's gone, and once in a while I don't know when to prune or divide something, and that hasn't killed me yet.
 
> So "just use the library" isn't
> terribly reassuring.
 
This brings me to the question: How important is it? If you can't find it at the library and can't find it at home, how bad would that be? (Also, does your library offer interlibrary loan? If so, that adds the question of, can you wait a few weeks for the information?)
 
I got rid of an encyclopedic reference of ways to fold and manipulate fabric. I might regret that someday, but it's unlikely that the day will come that I'll seriously suffer for the lack of clear instructions for making a cartridge pleat. I might be faintly annoyed the day that I want it after it's gone, but my policy of keeping the sewing books that are most fun and most inspiring to me pretty much ensures that I'll find another technique that will serve.
 
Even for homeschooling, I assume that you're teaching your kids how to learn, rather than ensuring that every possible scrap of knowledge is available in your home. I own a great book about children's lives in the American West; it's interesting, readable, and contains unexpected facts. But it's not part of an encyclopedic collection of social history of the American West or of social history of children. Instead, it sits next to books that respresent other, totally unrelated but very interesting, slices of history and anthropology and sociology. There's one about the rise of the home economics movement, one about mealtime etiquette across history and across the world, and so on.
 
In general, I'd try to trust that the world will continue to be filled with fascinating books, and while you may never get _that_ book back, or even one with exactly the same information, it's likely that you will find something else that's wonderful.
 
On the CDs, are they still in their jewel cases? One way to substantially reduce their size is to simply shell them out of the cases and store them in those little paper envelopes instead. We're a little paranoid about having all that ripped music with no proof of ownership, so we do the envelope thing.
 
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#18 of 28 Old 05-08-2012, 11:00 PM
 
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I had one heck of a serious book collection. For me, the decluttering happened in a couple of stages.  I was in a position where I HAD to do some serious decluttering.  So I gave away some of my books on freecycle to people who I thought may appreciate them.  I kept all of the ones that meant the most to me though (which was still a lot).  Long story short, my books were in a storage facility that my mom lost due to not paying it (and not telling me until it was too late).  So right there I lost 98% of my books.

 

Honestly, I don't miss as many of them as I thought I would.  I mean, I would have never wanted this to happen.  But since it did, I am dealing with it much better than I thought I would.  I wasn't using these books as much as I wanted to think that I was.  I'm not sure what it is when it comes to books, but they are sooo hard to let go of!  Getting rid of them gave me anxiety.  But now that I am living with out them.  It really isn't so bad.

 

I don't have the best advice on how to declutter books.  The declutter was kind of forced on me.  But I just wanted to give you encouragement because it can be done and living with out them isn't as bad as you may think.  Especially now a days with everything being on the internet.  Good luck. :)


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#19 of 28 Old 05-09-2012, 02:43 PM
 
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I recently got rid of all of my books. ALL of them (okay, I think I kept five -- two signed books written by my friend, a copy of my high school literary magazine in which I have a two published pieces, and two out of print small-press books).

 

And I am a bibliophile, someone who has moved six or so times in as many years and always brought the books with me. But I'd been noticing the weight of "things" in my life and decided it was time to send my books to better homes where they would be appreciated and used, rather than just displayed on my bookshelves.

 

My key decision factor in decluttering was determining if something was beautiful, useful, or loved. If it wasn't at least TWO of those things, RIGHT NOW, TO ME (bolded because this was how I told it to myself in my head!) it had to go to someone who needed it more. Because I had plenty of beautiful books, or useful books, and even loved books -- but they're still just books, and you have to remember that you can't really "love" a book.

 

I sold most of them to Powells.com -- really easy, and they pay shipping. The rest I donated to a books for prisoners organization. It was like ripping off a bandaid at first (ok, more like a punch in the gut), but now it feels good. :)

 

Good luck to you!


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#20 of 28 Old 05-10-2012, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!!


- single homeschooling mom to 16, 14, almost-12, and 10
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#21 of 28 Old 05-10-2012, 06:49 AM
 
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Quote:
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


 

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#22 of 28 Old 05-10-2012, 11:02 AM
 
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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.  

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#23 of 28 Old 05-18-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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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.

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#24 of 28 Old 05-18-2012, 11:54 AM
 
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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. 

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#25 of 28 Old 05-18-2012, 12:26 PM
 
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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.
 


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#26 of 28 Old 10-01-2012, 01:26 PM
 
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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.

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#27 of 28 Old 10-01-2012, 01:48 PM
 
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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!


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#28 of 28 Old 10-05-2012, 09:42 AM
 
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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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