Organizing Your Life: Your Books (Week 4)
I have a confession, I love books. We have multiple bookcases in our home all filled and overflowing with books. My husband and I both love to read (and I hope to pass this habit to my children too). I collect great books because I wish I had more time to read. Every year I make lists of books I would like to read (this year’s list I think started with about 200 books), but I know I will only be able to complete a fraction of the list.
In addition to all the print books I have, I have almost 1,000 digital books I have collected over the years. My digital books are mostly free books, but I do have some great authors in that group too.
It’s week 4 of our Organizing Your Life Challenge. We are going room by room, closet by closet, and space by space to declutter and organize your life. If you missed any of the earlier posts, you can read every weekly challenge here.
3 Simple Declutter Rules
- Accept you cannot keep everything and you have to let things that are not used or that are no longer useful to you go.
- If you don’t use it, get rid of it (i.e. you have not used in 6 months or 12 months), it’s time for it to leave your house.
- When possible use baskets, tubs, cases, you already have in your house to organize. Sometimes this repurposing will take some creative thinking (and/or moving furniture), but most of the time you don’t need to purchase more “storage” products, you just need to repurpose the storage items you have.
Since I love books, I am always picking up like new used books to add to my home library. I have to review my book shelves about every 6 months and purge books we no longer need. Free tip: your local library is a great source for inexpensive books. Many libraries have a used book section where they sell books donated to them for $1 or $2 a book. It’s a great way to update your home library. Our library has books available from all the main stream authors.
Declutter and Organize Your Books in 3 Steps
Start by Deciding Which Books You No Longer Need
Do you have books your children have outgrown? Do you have books you read 5 years ago, but didn’t absolutely love and don’t plan to read again? Or maybe you purchased a book on impulse, but decided you don’t like it now.
I start my book declutter and organizing by deciding which books I no longer need to keep. With this step, go through all your books and decide which books to save and which books you will donate or sell (unless it’s ripped, torn or has missing pages then you might have to throw it out).
Try not to be too attached to your books (if you are a book lover, it’s hard not be attached to your books they are like friends). Because I tend to be overly attached to my books, I usually have a hard time parting with them. I have found it’s helpful to review the book shelves every 6 months. Sometimes a book I “had” to keep 6 months ago, I can get rid now. For example, when I decluttered and organized my books for this project, I finally donated a large stack of college textbooks I would never use again (they were outdated).
Organize the Books You are Keeping
The next step is to organize your books so you will be able to easily find a book when you need it. We probably have about 500-600 print books in our home. Without an organization system, I would never find any book.
I start by sorting my books by category such as parenting, Christian/faith, textbook, writing, professional, education for the children, fiction (we have a bookcase just for fiction) and so forth. Then, within each category, organize by author. All the books by the same author will be on a shelf together. When you first sort and organize your books, this process will take a little time, but trust me when you want a specific book you will be able to find it quickly.
I also organize my bookcases by category of books. I have a bookcase for fiction, I have a bookcase for parenting/Christian/faith/textbook, a bookcase for all the children’s books and a bookcase for business/professional books. This is just one additional way to keep all the similar books together and make it easier to find a book when I need it.
Donate and Sell Books
Last step after you organize your books is decide if you have any books you can sell or should they all be donated.
You can try to sell books on Craigslist or Ebay (or in garage sale if you planning one soon). If you have a large group of children’s books that would be appropriate for one age grouup (like 3-5 year olds), you could sell these books together or you could sell some of your fiction books as a group. I would not suggest trying to sell individual books you would not make much money and you would spend a lot of time shipping.
If you decide not to sell your books, you can donate them to your local library, Salvation Army or other local charity. You can also give them to a friend who loves to read or who has children younger than your children.
Let’s review the simple plan to declutter and organize your books. Start by sorting all your books and deciding which ones you want to save and which ones you will donate or sell. Then, organize the books you are keeping by category and then by author. Finally, donate or sell the books you are not keeping.
How do you organize your books? What’s the best way for you to be able to find your books when you need them? Just for fun, what are your favorite books to read? I love to read books for mom (parenting, motherhood, education).