Book culling. If you're a reader, you're probably familiar with this process. You know, when you finally admit that your bookshelves are just a bit too full and decide to weed out the books that you want to donate, share or sell. Unless you've got unlimited space, there's always an opportunity to clean our your shelves!
Since Alexa and I are committing to The Picky Pledge in 2015, we decided to cull our shelves before the end of the year. We wanted to start with as fresh a slate as possible! So today, I'm sharing how I cull books that I own and have read. These questions may not work for everyone, but I think they are a great place to start. While you're at it, don't forget to go visit Alexa's post. She's talking about how you can cull your TBR!
Before I get started, here are the three piles you'll be making as you sort your shelves:
- KEEP: This book remains on your shelves.
- MAYBE: This book is separated and placed in a bag, box or closet.
- PASS: This book is removed to be sold, donated or given away.
Here are my guidelines for culling books that you've read from your shelves:
- All read titles will be up for consideration.
- Ask yourself: How did I feel about this book when I read it?
- If it's a favorite, KEEP.
- If you can't remember, MAYBE.
- If you disliked it, PASS.
- If you want to re-read it, KEEP.
- If you might re-read it, MAYBE.
- If you'd never re-read it, PASS.
- If you don't own another copy, KEEP.
- If you own it in another format, MAYBE.
- If you own another physical copy, PASS.
- If it's signed, KEEP.
- If it has sentimental value, KEEP.
- If it is out of print or hard to find, MAYBE.
- If you didn't love it but it's a favorite author, MAYBE.
- If you have no real attachment to it, PASS.
- If you can't remember why you own it, PASS.
- Look back at your thoughts if you reviewed it. Refresh your memory, and see if it's worth keeping.
- Check out the average Goodreads rating, and see what your friends think about it.
- Read a few chapters, and find out if your feelings for it have changed.
- If it's signed, be honest about whether or not it has any value or meaning to you apart from that. A signature doesn't mean it's guaranteed a spot on your shelves!
- Consider whether you'd save this book if it were in danger of being damaged in any way.
- Picture your personal library, and pretend like you were going to tell someone what books they'd find there. Would this book be one you'd mention?
Now, it's pretty obvious what you're going to be doing with the books in your KEEP pile. Go ahead and stick those back on your shelves! If you're like me, it's the perfect excuse to re-organize your books... again. But what about the books in the MAYBE or PASS piles?
Let's tackle the MAYBE pile first. Separate them from the books you know you're keeping, and place them in a bag or a box. Then, stick them in a closet or somewhere out of the way. You're going to think about these books for a little bit longer. Give yourself a deadline - the length of time is totally up to you! When the time is up, re-examine the books using these same guidelines. Usually, by then, you know if you want to KEEP or PASS.
As for the PASS group, here are a few ideas on what to do with these books:
- Do I know someone who wants to read this book? SHARE.
- Does my public library or nearby school need or accept books? DONATE.
- Will I get a decent amount of money for this book? SELL.
- None of the above applicable? HOST A GIVEAWAY OR BOOK SWAP.
At the end of the day, culling your shelves is completely in your hands. If you unlimited space, just keep piling those books up! But if you're like most people, you'll have to sort through your books every now and then. Just remember: there's no right or wrong way to cull. And there's never a time limit on culling! You can keep something today and decide to donate it tomorrow. So, if you're new to this process - it's okay to be cautious.
I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to cleaning out my books. I enjoy the process because I know that 1) it frees up room on my shelves for favorite books and 2) I can probably find that book an even better home. I want to get it into the hands of someone who wants to, as Betty would say, firebox it. And personally, I want to keep books that have earned their place in my heart - and on my shelves!
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you clean out your shelves. Who wants to keep books just for the sake of having them?! And don't forget share your own culling methods or experiences - I know I'm not alone!
Do you cull your shelves?
How do you decide what to keep?