It seems counter-intuitive, but when I declutter my bookshelf I am inspired to actually read more. Like all our stuff, when we curate and organise it properly, we feel more motivated to use what remains. See Use the Good Stuff for my hot take on that.
And books are SO much fun to declutter and organise. Their uniform shape makes them easy to stack, and they have interesting designs. Being fairly large, you get a good decluttering result pretty quickly. Especially compared with sorting out the junk drawers, the spare room or the garage full of mysterious, tiny screws.
There are two types of readers:
1. Loyal types who feel the need to finish everything they start, out of respect to the author. But also just because the hitherto-boring book might just get better. FOMO means they keep going just in case. Toughing it out dutifully hoping for change, like a bad relationship. This type often has all their eggs in one basket and reads one book at a time.
2. Disloyal types who snap shut a book they don’t like, and move onto something else. “NEXT” they cry, tossing the unloved tome aside as they reach for another. Sometimes multiple books are read simultaneously. It’s a veritable love-fest of consuming literature.
I aspire to be more like number 2 but sadly, I like to finish what I start. This does not always mean I power through unlikeable books to get to the finish. Rather, I leave the partially-read book to gather dust over a series of weeks or months while I don’t read anything at all. The book stares at me every morning and night from my bedside table, gleeful in the spell it has cast over my joy of reading.
Declutter My Bookshelf
Anyway, back to the task at hand. Has your bookshelf attracted a variety of non-book items? Ornaments? glassware? Old keys? Poorly-made gifts from children? It’s time for these old friends to move onto whatever their true calling in life is. Op shop, kitchen shelves and maybe the bin. Sorry pals.
As for the books themselves, take them all off the shelf. Put aside the obvious duds including:
– Old school novels of yours. (You never liked To Kill A Mockingbird in high school, so why keep it?).
– Aspirational self-help literature you will never get to.
– Kids’ books they have outgrown.
– Books you may have started and never finished.
Do you have any meaningful but under-read publications which have a heartfelt inscription in the cover? If so, take a photo of the inscription and move on.
I like to put back all my keepers in a rainbow design. It may seem like an arbitrary classification system and not useful for retrieval. However I often can’t remember titles and authors anyway, so colour is as good a system as any. And a pretty one, at that. The ROYGBIV colour scheme is my favourite. Do some book stacks horizontally as well as vertically, for visual interest.
At this stage I sigh with joy at the results I have achieved. I may take a photo and put it on Pinterest. “I decluttered my bookshelf” I exclaim with a smiley face.
Your rejects can go to the op shop, a local book swap, a Buy Nothing group or similar. The unloved tomes may rattle around in your car boot for months while you consider their destiny, but at least they are no longer on your bookshelf.
You can put a select few of your favourite ornaments back on the bookshelf, and a couple of pot plants are a nice touch. Then, curl up with something you want to read right now. Personally I don’t fancy reading books while in the bath or drinking alcohol because I find that soaking in water and wine means I don’t soak up much information from the book. Especially if I drop it.
Project Declutter My Bookshelf done. Enjoy!