If you’re like me, your bookcase is less #shelfgoals and more “oh my god where can I fit this book I just got, I’ve got no space!”. My book shelf frequently spills out onto my floor, and periodically, much to my distress, I do a book cull.
Book culls seem scary for bibliophiles, but trust me, it’s sometimes sorely needed and almost cathartic.
A few weeks ago, I accepted that I needed to purge my bookcase. There were things on there from when I was 15 that I had read and wasn’t particularly fond of, and some things I was just never going to look at. So I went through and culled.
It wasn’t a particularly big cull- I did a huge cull about 2 years ago- but was a sizable portion; I can get all my books into my book case now, even if they are double layered.
I realised that there may be some people who are keen to purge, but either don’t know how/what to give away, or where to give them away too. So here are some of my tips that will hopefully help you with your endeavours;
There are some rules of thumb that you should always use when doing a book purge, and some categories/identifiers you can use to select books to purge;
- Did you really enjoy this book when you read it?
- Does this book carry a lot of memories for a particular place/time/person?
- Was this book a present from someone special?
- How long has this book sat on your shelf for?
- Be brutally honest, are you ever going to read this book?
If you answer yes/not long to most of these, then this book should probably stay, unless you’re intending on really de-cluttering. If it answers to more than 2 no’s (if it’s no to question 5 it should definitely go) then you should probably put this in your “get rid of” pile.
Will it be hard to get rid of most of the books? yes. I’m not going to lie and pretend that it isn’t. But just keep in mind that just because you are parting ways with this book, doesn’t mean this is the end of the book’s life; think about how much of an impact this book could have on someone else.
A book purge isn’t the destruction of books; it’s just identifying the books you should pass on to someone else.
Books should never be thrown away, unless you physically can’t keep the pages in the binding anymore. I am a strong campaigner for book re-homing. Given how expensive books can be, and how precious they are, it’s important they live a few different lives with a few different people.
I’ve always given away books; I like to pass on the magic to someone else who would enjoy them as much, or more, than me.
So, you’ve identified the books you no longer want/need. So now where do they go? There’s so many different options or ways to go about this, but here’s a few for those who aren’t sure where to start.
Give them to your friends
After my recent purge, there were quite a few books which I thought my friends might like, so I put up a Facebook post listing the books I was giving away, and a picture of the books and their titles and conditions. I got a fantastic response from my friends, with most wanting the same series. I ended up giving away 5 of the books to one of my friends who is very excited to have them.
Never take for granted the power of friends or social media!
Sell your second hand books
There are lots of websites or small indie bookstores around the world who offer to buy your second hand books for you. A quick google search will show you multiple places to do so in your area. Try to go for reputable companies and make sure you check what prices they on-sell them for and the condition of the books that they ask for, to ensure they’re not taking you for a ride. Some examples I’ve heard of are AbeBooks.com, Thriftbooks (very highly recommended). If you’re an Aussie, the are lots of smaller organisations that Australian based who are keen to buy second hand books; i.e. BerkelouWbooks. A lot of university/Alumni bookshops also offer similar services.
If you happen to have a very popular/hyped/new/rare book that you would like to sell, you might have some luck on places like Ebay, Gumtree/Craigslist, buy/sell groups on Facebook.
Give your books to a women/children’s shelter
There are so many people that have it so much harder than we do, and as domestic violence and homelessness rates rise around the world, it’s important to do all we can to support our fellow human beings. While you may not be able to give cash/donations to organisations like this, you can give old clothes or books.
Ask around/google for some local shelters, and get in touch with the organisation/charity group running them to see if they are willing to take books (most shelters love book donations). The difference that a book could make in someones life who rely’s on these shelters is immense.
Give them to a Charity Shop/Charity
This is my favourite way to pass on most things I don’t want i.e. clothes, CD’s etc. Books definitely falls under this category. I like choosing what store/charity I give the books to, and knowing that someone who may not normally have to buy books at retail price can purchase my books. My books are pretty much in new condition (I’m extremely fussy with my books), and I love having something to physically give to a charity. I’m so privileged to lead a comfortable life and if I can give to a charity that can help ease the strain in someone else’s life, i’m down. The money the charities make from the book sale will go to something worthy; the books have a double impact, not only being available to others for their enjoyment, but also helping another group of people at the same time.
My favourite charities to give to in Australia are Lifeline, the Salvation Army and the St Vincent De Paul Society. Do your research though, there might be a local charity which may catch your attention as a local cause.
So there’s some ideas of what you can do with your old books you no longer want. Leave me a line in the comments if you try some of these out or you personally recommend one of the methods. I would love to hear from you.
Here’s a little picture of the books I un-hauled 😉