For those of you who follow our Instagram stories, you might have seen and heard me talking about decluttering my book collection last month. Basically, I am working on our living room (more of a den really) right now because we just got a projector and screen instead of a TV (gave our old TV to my father-in-law) and we had a big wrap-around floating shelf installed in the room to house the projector as well as my book collection.
I promise, I’ll share photos soon! I know it’s kind of hard to picture. I feel like I’ve shown it quite a few times in progress on IG, but I get that not all of you watch that, so blog post coming soon with a room tour.
Anyway, after our new floating shelf was installed, I decided it might be smart to go through all our books and clean out anything that I didn’t want or need anymore. In general, I think I’m pretty good at decluttering our home. Like I’d give myself an overall B or B- (if decluttering was on my report card or something, ha), but my book collection is one thing I rarely clean out. I LOVE books. I love to read, I love audiobooks, I have a massive cookbook collection (as I’m sure you could have guessed). And as a gal who has three books published, I feel like it makes sense how much I love books and how many I would naturally have in my home. That being said, I think it never hurts to take a look at what you have and if you don’t need it or don’t really have a use for it, then donate it so someone else can enjoy it. So I decided to do this with our books before putting them up on the shelf.
I was SHOCKED when I ended up donating probably close to 30% of the books we owned. I still have a lot of books in our home, and certainly more than enough cookbooks for one person, but I couldn’t believe how much decluttering I actually ended up doing. Anything that you love (me—books) can be really hard to part with. So I thought I’d share the three criteria that kind of naturally arose as I worked to declutter my book collection, as maybe it will help some of you. I actually think these three criteria could apply to lots of different things, not just books. I kind of use these criteria like a ladder. If the book didn’t fall into the first category, did it the second? And if it didn’t really fit in any, then into the donate pile it went. Here were my criteria:
As I was digging through each of my books, I kept asking myself, “Do I use this often? Will I use this again?” No matter if it was a cookbook, a business book, or even a novel, I was trying to assess if the book was something I would actually get use of again or if it was just going to sit on a shelf and collect dust. For me, I have enough space in my home that I can hang on to some books I only use once in a while, or keep a novel that I plan to read again even if it’s not this year. (Also, obviously, any books I had recently gotten and I haven’t read yet, which is only like three or four). But if I really didn’t think I’d use the book again, then why not donate it and let it hopefully find use in a new home? I would say the vast majority of the books I kept fell into this category, probably like 80% or more.
In some ways, this isn’t totally different from being a resource, but in other ways it is. I found there were some books that I just felt kind of inspired by, just flipping through them. It might have been a cookbook with wildly fantastic photography and even though I don’t cook from the book ever I feel really inspired by the photos. Or it might have been an art book I found really inspirational in early college and I still feel really good when I flip through it. I choose to keep most of the books that made me feel this way because sometimes flipping through a book instead of scrolling the Internet just feels better when you’re feeling kind of blah, you know? And although I may have more books in this category than most, I’d still say it only made up about 10-15% of my collection.
I won’t lie, I am not the most sentimental person in the world—especially when it comes to objects or gifts. I never really realized this until I got married, but Trey will hold onto a gift MUCH longer than me, even if it’s something he doesn’t really find useful or have a place for, etc. I am sentimental in other ways, just not really about holding on to gifts. And of course there is no right or wrong answer here, but I will say I do think if you have a lot of things in your home that are taking up space that you only hold on to because they were gifts, well, you might evaluate that some. If you don’t need the space, that’s one thing. But I always feel so much better when I declutter our home a little; I just feel lighter. Also, I don’t love the idea of someone feeling like they have to hold on to an item I gave them simply because I gave it to them. If it doesn’t suit you after a while, it’s OK to move on. If it’s a homemade gift of some kind that may be taking up space or maybe has gotten damaged, here’s a tip: Take a photo of it and save the photo instead of the object.
Anyway, this one is the trickiest one, I think. And I did indeed hang on to a few books because they were gifts or they meant something to me beyond just the content of the book. But not very many, probably less than 5% of my collection. I had a few books that had been gifts that I ended up donating, and although I felt a little bit of guilt I also thought about how long I had kept the book. Also, just because I was now choosing to donate it, that didn’t mean I did not appreciate the thought and the effort of the person who gave me the book.
Those were the three criteria that helped me declutter my book collection the most. The only other things I noticed was I had a few books that were damaged (usually either water damage or had been really chewed up by our dog) and I also had a few duplicate books and that was easy to just donate one and keep the other. Have any of you been spring cleaning or decluttering lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have decluttering criteria you go by. xo. Emma