How to Purge Your Book Collection

How to Purge Your Book Collection and Quickly Tidy Up Your Bookshelves via Clean Mama

This week’s organizing focus is BOOKS.  If you haven’t grabbed April’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar yet, head on over to this post for a little more explanation (and May’s calendar will be up soon).

Your challenge this week is to take 15 minutes to do a little book inventory.  Super simple task – walk around your house, straighten up any books on bookshelves, dust off the tops (on Tuesday, because it’s dusting day), and purge any books that you no longer need or want and are just taking up space.

Here are my 5 favorite book organizing tips:

  • Store books at the edge of your bookcases or shelves to keep the dusting to a minimum.
  • Keep kids’ board books in baskets – take out one at a time or the whole basket.  This keeps clean up a little easier.
  • Take inventory regularly and give away books to a friend or neighbor, sell or donate anything else.  A box of books in the basement doesn’t do anyone any good (or at least that’s the conclusion I’ve come to).
  • Make a bookcase more interesting by alternating stacking books and storing books upright.  Add decorative and seasonal items to add a little more interest to your bookcase.
  • Arrange books by spine color to pretty-up your book collection.

But how do you know what books to keep?

  • If it’s a book that you will use or do use, can pass down to a child, or has sentimental or monetary value and you still want it – keep it.
  • If it’s tattered, torn, and isn’t used anymore and you can’t think of when you might use it – toss it.
  • If it’s taking up space and cluttering up your life – donate it.
  • Not sure?  Put it in a box in your basement and if you don’t come back to it in 6 months – it can go.

What’s your best book sorting and organizing tip?  Share in the comments!

And of course, grab my book – it’ll be in your cleaning caddy and off your shelves, for sure!

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  1. This has been on my list for a while now. Thanks for the motivation to get it done!

  2. sharon camel says:

    Thanks so much for posting this again! I am in the process of decluttering and passing on as many books as I can. I have thousands. Eight huge bookcases full with overflow lying around my home.
    I needed this perfect reminder. Since I have begun (two days ago) my mindset was with all of your above mentioned tips. Now I know I’m definitely on the right track!
    Peace and gratitude, Sharon

  3. Oh heavens, using that I would be getting rid of ALL my books. I don’t think I could bear that!

  4. ordering books by color is only good for people who use books as decorations. I’d say – arrange by subject, author, period, genre or some other relevant criterion.

    • ‘arrange’ books by color was just a suggestion to pretty up a bookshelf 🙂
      xo, Becky

    • pamela Brucker says:

      I am an avid reader and I love my books. I recently organized them by spine color and cannot tell you what a difference it has made in how my bookcase looks. I have gotten many compliments and do not have a problem finding any book. I did keep collections together. It works for me.

  5. Hi Becky this probably sounds very silly but what is the best and easiest way to clean books in bookcases?
    How regularly should they be dusted and or cleaned?
    What’s the best way to clean the books?
    It’s a chore I seldom do as it seems too much to do.
    I have decluttered quite a few boxes of books, but cleaning
    bookcases and books seems a colossal and virtually impossible job.

  6. Christine says:

    I find that keeping the books away from the edge of the shelf helps to protect them from all of the dust. Dusting the front of the shelf should not be much of a problem. Love ya Becky!

  7. I struggle with this. I have an e-reader and don’t buy books anymore. However, every time I try to sit down and read a regular book I just can’t. The print is small and it keeps my husband up because of the light. I really just need to make a list of my favorite books and pay for the all over again in the digital world!

  8. The best way to purge your book collection? Get an ereader!! I was a paper book girl and refused to switch to an ereader for the longest time. I’ve now purged 90% of my physical books (about a dozen large boxes worth), keeping only those that are very special – sentimental, autographed, or ones that I want to pass on to my kids. I love that there is less clutter in the house, I can haul all my books on vacaction with me, and I’ve discovered so many new authors that I love (and saved a ton of money since so many of them are cheaper than paperbacks!). Add to that the fact that I can shop for books 24/7, and I’m a complete convert. It’s still nice to pick up a paper book now and again, but the convenience of an ereader can’t be beat! Oh, and I can read in bed without disturbing Hubby! So many wins! 😀

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