My year of Less is More: decluttering our books

Our kids books all laid out before we sorted them

While a lot of my thinking and headspace has been taken up with decluttering our schedule, I've also been thinking a lot about decluttering our possessions.

To be honest, I like getting rid of things and I find it freeing to declutter our house. But my house is far from a minimalist paradise. Seven people live in our three bedroom house and part of the motivation for decluttering is actually so that we can cope with living in our house.  I think if you can keep the clutter to a minimum it makes you more content with the space you have, instead of a constant feeling that what you have isn't big enough.

But I have failed miserably with our books. I'm a librarian. And I'm not just a librarian, I'm a children's librarian with five reading offspring. So we have A LOT of children's books. We also have a lot of other books.

I really wanted to do a cull of the books but I couldn't even consider downsizing our books. It felt sacrilegious. Having books around makes me feel happy. Plus I have a blog that is about reading (at times ...!).

Well I bit the bullet. And in the end it wasn't all that painful. We managed to move from four large bookshelves, to two.

After:  it looks like we're moving out!
Here are the guidelines I used:

1. To keep the book, we had to either love the book or need it (this is my new baseline principle for all decluttering decisions).
2. To keep the book, we had to think that we liked it enough that we'd like to lend the book to someone else or keep it for a younger sibling.
3. If it was a book that every second person we knew probably owns (or was easily available in a library), it went.
4. We got rid of doubles (a surprising number of these in the kids books).
5. Even if someone gave us the book as a present, the above applied. We thought that the gift-giver wouldn't want us to be lumbered with something that we didn't love or need.
6. If it was a book we'd bought/got but not read it in the last year because we never got around to it, it went (shocking, I know, but sooo liberating).
7. We (including the kids) asked ourselves all these questions many times while going through the books.

Going through this whole painful process (including get them into boxes, into the garage - we're keeping them for the next school fete) is a strong deterrent to bringing in more books. It was such a pain to get them out of the house.


Emily said…
I have been brutal (or so I feel!) in my book culling recently. Getting married and moving house, soon to move again was the motivation needed. Fine FM is coming to collect the unwanted books and CDs soon for them to sell to help fund their community radio.
Having a Kindle somehow made it easier in my mind that if I wanted to re/read a book in the future I could do so without taking up more space.
Un/fortunately, my step-daughter won a bookcase full of books in a draw at an independent bookstore last year. Both a blessing and a curse!
Rebecca said…
ooh, would love to be able to go to your school fete :)
Jenny said…
I know how you feel Emily - it did feel 'brutal'! But I have to say, they are now gone from my lounge room and I'm fine. I think the process was tiring (all that decision making and organising) but the result is freeing.
Anonymous said…
time for some more children's book reviews???
Sarah said…
Ohhh if I did #6 my bookcase would be empty. ;)

I agree about giving books away that were gifts. I don't feel offended if someone gets rid of a book I gave them. I'd rather them sell it (and at least get some money from it) or give it away than have it clutter up their house just to keep me happy.
Tamie said…
We are big fans of Kindles too! Often cheaper than buying the hardcover as well. A help on simplifying space/clutter, but maybe not on possessions!
Rachael said…
When we first moved overseas I had to cull my book collection. So since then, I have adopted a policy of "passing it on". I try to think of someone who will enjoy reading it as much as I, and pass it on to them. It helps dull the pain somewhat... and sometimes I hold on to them for a while first.

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