The second category we tackled was Books. We are book lovers and the books filled all our bookshelves, some storage cubes, and all the shelves in our nightstands. It was overwhelming. And it was too many to pile all together at one time. So, we broke up the process of decluttering the books in the following ways:
Step 1) Go on a Scavenger Hunt for Money Books!
I pulled up BookScouter.com on my phone and started a scavenger hunt for books worth money. BookScouter checks all the textbook buyback websites and tells you which one would give you the most money for your book after you enter the ISBN number. This was a fun and motivating way to get started on a category so overwhelming. I entered hundreds of ISBN numbers. In general, I learned that fiction is worth nothing, but I was often surprised that textbooks over ten years old were still worth a couple dollars. I stacked them into piles for Textbooks.com, SellBackYourBook.com, and Amazon based on which one BookScouter said would give me the most money. Be sure to check out the book condition requirements of each company. One of my books was worth about $25 but because it had a rip in the cover, no one would accept it. Each company lets you print off a free shipping label and just drop the box off at a shipper and then they reimburse you (remember that if you choose PayPal, you’ll get your money faster, but you’ll also have to pay fees). I tried to get up to $50 from each service, but failed. Here’s how it ended up breaking down:
- 19 Books to Textbooks.com for a total of $53.25 (received a check within 3 weeks of shipping the books)
- 14 Books to SellBackYourBook.com for a total of $47.84 (it’s been 3 weeks and I just got confirmation that my check is in the mail)
- 3 Books to Amazon for $34.97 in Amazon Credit (deposited automatically in about 2 weeks from mailing my books)
TOTAL: 36 books for a total of $136.06 in Cash and Credit (assuming I get the $47.84 still outstanding).
36 books made just enough of a dent on each of the shelves that it got me motivated to start really culling.
Step 2) Figure Out Categories for Your Books
The KonMari Method from The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up recommends you go through your books in the following order: General (books you read for pleasure), Practical (Reference, Cookbooks, etc.), Visual, and Magazines. Maybe those categories will work for you, but we had to come up with our own categories:
- Picture Books
- Board Books
- Youth Chapter Books
- Old Textbooks/Reference Books
- Adult Fiction
- Church Books
Defining our own categories helped us own the process and think through the books we owned in our way rather than trying to figure out which of our books fit into the KonMari categories. It also helped established sections for how we wanted to store our books (ie: all adult fiction books together).
Step 3) Have Boxes Ready
Before you start, check the website of your local library to see what books they want. Books that aren’t on the library list can go to a thrift store or other charitable organization. Books that are all ripped up (or chewed up!) can go straight into recycling. After we packaged up the books to ship in for money, we got a box for the library, a box for the thrift store, and a box for recycling.
TIP: Tally the hardback and paperback books on the flap of the box as they go in so that you don’t have to get them back out to recount later for tax assessment purposes.
Step 4) Remove All Books in Each Category From Shelves, Boxes, Baskets, etc.
Get the books out. Wipe the shelves off. Wipe the top of the books off. Focus on what you want to put back, not the ones you want to get rid of. Look at your fresh, empty, clean shelves, and decide what you want there. Which books do you love? Try to put like books together. (Though we do have a shelf in our living room of old, interesting-looking books from a variety of categories… but organized based on being the best to display.)
Step 5) Have a “Read and Get Rid of” Shelf.
If you’ve held onto the book because you “should” read it, get rid of it immediately. If, however, when you picked that book back up this time, you got excited to read it, stick it on the new “Read and Get Rid of” shelf. Limit this to one shelf and make it a goal to have it empty by the end of the year.
Step 6) Have a “Library” Shelf.
Now that we’ve gotten rid of so many books, we’ve realized that we want to borrow instead of buy books. We don’t want to add more to our shelves. Just this week, we checked out nearly 40 books between the 4 of us that read. Those books need a shelf so they feel as at home as all our current books. This also helps avoid library fees for searching for the books you checked out and can’t find!
Step 7) Sit Back and Read
It feels so good in here now. The books that remain are the ones that we love. They are organized by category, cleaned off, and enticing. We celebrated this victory by reading a ton this week (the kids love all the books they rediscovered!).
Total Book Numbers:
36 books traded in for money/credit
59 books given to friends (all but 19 of these were kids’ books)
100 (exactly) books given to the thrift store
76 books donated to the library.
TOTAL given away: 271
42 board books (organized in a basket by the couch so Lui can access easily), 243 picture books (because these are so thin, they fit on two small shelves in the girls’ room), and 417 chapter/adult books.
TOTAL books on our shelves:699
We got rid of 28% of our books, but it feels like half! Our books now only reside on bookshelves. Our nightstands and storage cubes are completely cleared out. The open space is motivating us to keep this up!
Next Category: Kitchen Stuff. Another busy weekend ahead!