Friday, April 28, 2017

Decluttering and Organizing My Books

I have been looking forward to this day for so long. We just moved into our own place after six months of living with family (since we moved across the country on a whim), and two years prior of living in student housing while I was in college. This is the first time in about eight years that all my books are in the same room since my bookcases were split between two rooms while I was in high school. And it's also the first time that all my books and all my husband's books will be combined into our shared shelves. I first set up the shelves, which I know for a fact fit only about 1/2 to 2/3 of these books, and then I brought in all the boxes from storage. This is what I'm working with:

all our boxes of books

This is already looking overwhelming. There are 45 boxes here! I unpacked all my boxes, putting all the books into piles on the floor.

Last year I read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I will be using that book's method (the Konmari method) for decluttering my books. She recommends to set goals for your personal space, which I have done:

  • Own only books that I truly want to read or that I enjoyed so much that I want to reread. 
  • Eliminate books that do not bring joy when I look at them. 
  • Have all my books displayed vertically in an organized manner on my shelves. Every book should have room without needing to double-stack the shelves. 
  • Make my shelves a representation of me--who I am and what I love. 
  • Create a relaxing space where my bookshelves bring me peace instead of anxiety. 
  • Reduce my TBR. 

With these goals in mind, Marie Kondo says to then put all the books on the floor. This is easy for me since they're coming straight out of boxes instead of off the shelves.

all the books that we own

When they're all in one place, in a pile, it's easy to see that we own too many books. Even though my husband and I both love reading, that doesn't mean I want us owning an endless supply of books. And the surprising thing is that I even donated about 50 of my books before we moved.

The next step in the Konmari method is to pick up each book, one by one, and ask if that book brings you joy. Do not start reading the book; just hold it and look at it. As you can imagine, with 675+ books, it took me quite a long time to sort through them. (My husband recently sorted through his books and got rid of about 70% of his collection, which I was very proud of.)

The problem with marrying a book lover like myself is that we ended up with some duplicate copies of books we both enjoy. I sorted all my duplicate copies into their own pile so I could go through those separately, comparing editions and keeping the best ones.

all duplicate books; left: keep, right: donate

Then I proceeded to sort through my books one by one, as she says. I originally went into this process expecting to get rid of about 100 books. I know that seems like a lot, but I was feeling hopeful. I also had been looking at a list of my books prior to today, and I had made a mental note of about 50 books that I thought could go.

After many hours of sorting through my books, I ended up donating 257 books (plus another stack a few days later) and keeping 415 books (not including my old yearbooks).

I am feeling that I may still get rid of more over the next few months as I hone in my reading tastes, but we shall see. Now all that's left is to put all the books on my shelf and see if they fit (which they didn't). I'll be honest, organizing my bookshelf is one of my very favourite things to do.

halfway done when I realized there were too many books for three bookcases

Unfortunately, there are still too many books for the amount of shelf space we have, but I am reluctant to purchase another shelf. I got them to all fit, but I had to stack some books horizontally to save space. Nevertheless, these are our bookshelves.

our newly culled and organized bookshelves

My ultimate goal is to have less than ten books on my TBR and to read books as I purchase them instead of letting them sit around for a long time first. Hopefully, these new shelves will help me to reach my goal quicker and enjoy my books more.

Thanks for reading!


  • Where do you get your bookcases? All my cases are the Billy model from IKEA.
  • Aren't you wasting money by getting rid of unread books? No, not really. Most of my books (especially the ones I'm donating) were free, either from the youth library program, as gifts, from friends, or from my grandma's attic. Or they were purchased at super bargain prices, so I don't feel too bad about it. I rarely pay full price for books, but those are the ones that I'm very excited for and willing to read, so I actually want to keep all of those. 
  • Where did you discard all your books? I sold them all at Half Price Books.  

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