If you’re a long-time bibliophile, chances are that you have had to cull your book collection at least once. We hit this point on a yearly basis – usually when we’ve reached the point where piles of books have begin to breed and take over the floor space, as well as countertops, drawers and chairs. For much of this time, we’re in denial – hoping that we can somehow re-arrange our bookshelves to stop the flood of printed pages, but eventually it becomes obvious that we’ll have to force ourselves to do that most dreaded of deeds and part with a few of our precious titles. At first, it seems impossible, but on closer inspection, maybe there is a little scope for whittling down. These are some of the questions that we ask ourselves and hopefully they’ll help you too:
Would I reread this book?
I think this is a pretty good indication of whether you should keep a book or not. If it’s an absolute no, don’t let it take up your shelf space.
Have I read this book at all?
The to-be-read (TBR) pile is a constant in our lives, but sometimes we have books that gather dust for years. If you still haven’t got around to picking a title up, then give yourself a deadline of say – three months to finish it. If it still doesn’t hit the mark, then maybe it’s time to pass it on.
Do I have multiple editions?
Guilty as charged! And I’ve only just realised this while writing this blog post. The answer is obvious – unless collecting editions is your thing.
Am I only holding onto this for sentimental reasons?
Ugh! Another one which gets me every time. I keep books because they’ve been written by people who I vaguely know, or because I’ve received them as a gift – even if they didn’t completely rock my world. I know I should be more ruthless but when heart enters the equation, it’s a much more difficult decision. Do you find the same?
Would someone else I know enjoy this more?
Gifting books is a pleasure and if you haven’t read The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane, go buy or borrow it now! You may be uncertain about a title but someone else may love it so why not give it to them? That way, the book gets a good home and you make someone’s day. Win-win!
Of course, the ideal is not to get rid of any books at all, which means more bookcases or wiser purchases – both of which I hope to cover in future posts. If you have any other tips for streamlining your collection then please share in the comments.