How to Tell if You’re Hoarding Books

Beware: books are a common cause of clutter I’ve seen in many households. People have shelves and drawers full of books, many of them in which the family or individual has already deemed unnecessary. Why then, keep something you do not intend on using?

Use a basket like this one I purchased from Pottery Barn. It’s a great way to store extra books!

A few months ago, I scanned through my entire bookcase, soon realizing there had been books still standing in my collection from when I was just 15 year’s old.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”, plus a coinciding workbook were the first two in line. I then noticed I had also kept chemistry books from college that I hadn’t opened in years. There was also one book that I kept due to sentimental reasons, it was the last gift my uncle had given me before he passed away from cancer.

I took a few minutes to look over my collection and asked myself a bold but simple question: do I really need to keep all of these?

As I sorted through them, I came up with 3 rules that would decipher whether I was to keep a book or planned on donating it to either a friend, neighbor, family member, local library or donation center. Here are my 3 rules:

  1. If you haven’t used the book in over 1 year, chances are you don’t need to keep it. That’s an automatic YES to donation.
  2. You’ve already read the book, didn’t love it but kept it there, well, you know, just because, you paid for it from Barnes & Nobles and you don’t want to throw our your money.
  3. You’re holding on to a book due to sentimental reasons:
    1. A gift from a loved one. So even though you hate the book itself, you keep it out of guilt because it was a gift OR you keep it because the person who gave it to you means a lot.
    2. Favorite memory or feelings attached to the book, i.e. an ex-boyfriend gave it to you or a family member.

      This rule can be the hardest of all 3. This rule also may not work for everyone.

      For me, in this instance, the book that my uncle had given me was an item I ended up donating to friend.

      It was a beauty guide book from a famous Somali fashion model, Iman. The main theme of the book: to guide women of diverse ethnicities on some of the best beauty and makeup tips. But, when I received this book, I was much younger. It was during a time, where I loved experimenting with new makeup techinques. However, now I wear very light make up and that too, an all natural brand called Jane Iredale. The book however showed very heavy makeup techniques, using brands that I would never wear now.

      My main point: The book did not match my needs and I had to go through this thought process to decipher if I really needed to keep it. The book also meant a lot to me, because it reminded me of my uncle. Still, I realized, that I was holding on to the book for the wrong reasons. Instead, I had really great photos of me and my uncle. So, I decided to frame them. This way, not only was I able to remember him, but I was able to see the joyous times we had spent together. Rather than keeping a book I had no use of, this was a much better alternative for me. It even made me happier! Plus my friend was appreciative to have received this book. She was able to learn from it and it fit her life style well!

Learn the art of donation.

Start donating books you do not need. Not only are you decluttering your space, but you are actually HELPING others around you! There may be friends or families that could have much better use of some of the books you have in your bookshelf collecting dust.

For example, I had a friend who had a younger daughter that was in high school and currently taking biology. I had a biology dictionary I was able to give her and it was able to help her academically. It was a win-win situation.

There are, of course, exceptions to these rules.

If you are just a person who loves books and/or collects them, that is your preference. But if you are the latter and are holding onto books because you just can’t decipher what to do with them, I hope my rules have helped you.

Start today, by taking just 10 minutes:

Take a look at the space where you keep your books, whether that be in your room, bookshelf, nightstand or office and ask yourself:

Do I really need all of these? Are there any I could let go of? Are there any that could really positively impact someone else?

Look for charities or donation centers with a good cause. In my town here in NC, there is a donation center that uses any funds collected to assist in Alzheimers research. Can you think of a underprivileged library, school, town or neighborhood that could benefit from your books? Do you maybe just have a friend that loves to cook but you don’t? Give that cooking book away and spread a tiny bit of cheer to someone else. Really start to think about the books in your home and try to identify the reason you’ve been holding on to them.

Hope my rules helped you! Did you benefit from any of them? I would love to hear your experiences and feedback!

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