How to easily declutter books when you’re a total book lover

When it comes to books, there are 2 types of people:  people who are readers and people who love books and find absolute comfort in being surrounded by books.

For these book lovers, there will come a time when you need to declutter books from your collection.

That’s why we’ve chatted with Elisa Rasmussen, one of our Decluttering Coaches and a former librarian, on tips to easily declutter books when books are life.

how to easily declutter books when you really love books

There is no such thing as too many books…

Unfortunately, there is a thing as not enough space for books. Yes, there is a physical limit to the number of books you can keep in your home.

When your bookshelves are crammed full, look messy, make accessing your favorites difficult, or become stacks of books on the floor – you know it’s time to cull that collection.

We know that’s easier said than done. Luckily, Elisa has some great pointers and tips to get you started.

Watch the Interview with Elisa

How do you declutter and get rid of books?

Start with These Easy Book Types

1 – Books that don’t fit into your collections. It’s about curating a collection with purpose rather than keeping any random book that happens to find its way into your home. Keep the ones that actually have meaning and fit into your theme(s).

  • Focus on your interests as these books will get read and re-used more often.
  • Keep books that are worthwhile. If you’re vegetarian, don’t keep a BBQ cookbook just because you like one recipe in it. Copy the recipe and pass the book on to someone else who will enjoy it more.

Read more about decluttering collections here.

2 – Books you don’t like. Life is too short to waste on bad books – and space is too limited to waste storing bad books, too!

3 – Out of date books. Think about books like travel guides, how-to’s, tech and computer, and home decorating books. The information often becomes obsolete and dated, so clear out those books ASAP and take back your space!

4 – Old textbooks. Chances are you will never refer back to these books. And, if you do need that information, the ability to find that in a video online is pretty likely at this stage!

While college was great, there are probably better souvenirs you can keep than that statistics book.

5 – Books from old interests. We change. What we liked 10 years ago may not serve us now at all, so you are not doing yourself a favor by taking up precious space with books from old interests.

In fact, you might be making yourself feel worse by keeping them around! Seeing them on the bookshelf might make you think you ought to be that person you USED to be…

Instead, ditch the books and open space for the person you are today!

6 – Books for hobbies you won’t actually do. Sometimes we like to collect books for things we think we could like. Or, we say that we will do this activity in the future when we have more time.

You have to ask yourself how likely it is that you’ll actually do the task, and if you even like it. Elisa mentions how she loved the idea of quilting but will never actually sit down and spend hours upon hours doing the work.

 Want the full list? Get it in a printable on Elisa’s website.

Remember These 2 Things About Books

Still struggling to get rid of your excess book clutter? Reminding yourself of these facts will help you cull those collections into something more meaningful and manageable.

1 – Books are meant to be read and enjoyed. If you’re not reading them, give them to someone who will.

2 – They are just paper. Just because you get rid of or even trash a book doesn’t mean it’s gone forever (unless it’s a rare book of course). There will be other copies out there, and you can replace it in the future if need be.

decluttering your bookshelves
When you love books, it can be hard to declutter those bookshelves. The clean, decluttered vibe after is worth it!

Additional Tips to Help Declutter Your Books

What books should I throw away?

If your books are old and damaged, or if they have mold, you should throw them away instead of donating or selling. Since books are paper, be sure to toss them in the recycling instead of in the trash where possible.

What do I do with all my unwanted books?

You can sell them, donate them, or give them friends and family who will enjoy the reads.

Check out Cash In – our guide for selling your clutter for cash!

What about rare or valuable books?

If you’re holding on to a rare or valuable book because of the potential money, you’ll need to consider whether that makes sense. Books like these will need to be kept in the right conditions to preserve their quality. They’ll also need insurance.

If you’re not prepared to maintain the book, it is simply not living its best life in your house. Sell it off to someone who can give it the time and attention it needs.

Are you ready to declutter your book collection?

* * * * *

Elisa Rasmussen is a decluttering coach and former librarian. She’s a lover of books (obviously!) and has a knack for helping people let go. Learn more about working with Elisa on her website.


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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