Downsizing a Book Collection For Your Move

Aah - the joy of books. We book lovers always have our shelves lined with our favorite books. Many have sentimental value.

Long ago, I actually had a friend say that moving me was like being on a chain gang at a library in reference to the number of books I owned. But too many of anything, including books, can add to your stress level. And though you love collecting books, there are simply many books you will no longer read or else the information in many books are easily available digitally (computers) or else outdated. I know I hardly ever used my many cookbooks. Instead, now it is much simpler if I go to the internet on my phone to look up my recipe. I did, however, keep my Joy of Cooking book (it’s a favorite and a classic). Just saying!

Yet, and again, as I do, many people still like the feel of reading a hard copy book as well as seeing it on their shelf. There is a rather “osmosis affect” that occurs when you peruse the titles on your bookshelf, where your memory is jolted to the actual contents of a book you have read. That said there are also books tucked between our favorites that could simply use a new home.

CA good rule of thumb to assist in downsizing your books is this: “Do you give the book a 5-star rating?”

I once heard a downsizing expert say this: “If it’s not paying rent, get rid of it.” Now that’s a good slogan as far as I’m concerned: Meaning, if it’s no longer being helpful to you then just get rid of it.

Additionally, there are many other slogans one can attribute to downsizing:

· Let It Go

· Have determination/resolve

· Be honest with yourself

And in this instance,

· Easy does it – take one ‘shelf’ at the time

Trying to decide which books are meaningful or useful in our current lives is a task. Just think how happy you will be when you look at your shelves filled with books you love with no clutter [and we all have it][ii]

To put a positive spin on this, let’s try using the word “prune” (as we would do in order to keep our plants healthy). I recently “pruned” my own bookshelves (yes I have many shelves).

I would suggest separating your books into categories (like a library) and decide on your current interests for you books. Consider the nine (9) divisions of the Dewey Decimal System:

· Computer science, information & general works

· Philosophy & psychology

· Religion

· Social sciences

· Language

· Pure Science

· Technology

· Arts & recreation

· Literature

· History & geography

Now choose select books you want to keep from each of the categories you personally have on your own shelf.

What to do with your discarded books? The “Friends of the Library” organization gladly accepts books for redistribution as do many thrift stores. Some places will give you a tax deduction for charitable contributions.[1]

After discarding your unwanted books, you can either organize them according to genre or else alphabetically (your choice). For an added touch, put some small decorative item tucked between the books as an accent on your shelf. Your books and you are now breathing more easily from this effort. Enjoy reading!

Quotes in praise of reading:

~ “Reading brings us unknown friends” – Honoré de Balzac

~ “Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.” – Louis L’Amour

~“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” – Descartes

~“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” – Groucho Marx

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[i] "Time Enough At Last". The Twilight Zone. Season 1. Episode 8. 20 November 1959. CBS.

[ii] “Downsizing Books: Learning to Let Go.” Lets Move, 4 June 2018,


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