Downsizing a Large Personal Library

My bookshelves when I started, the shelves are double stacked and each drawer is full to bursting with books

Since graduating college I’ve been living in a strange in-between, internships and part-time jobs to afford rent in cheap apartments, living in places for four months at a time hoping that something turns into a real actual full-time job or at least something that will let me move myself and all of my books out of my Dad’s house. I am currently spending a month in the in-between place that is my childhood bedroom, the walls are purple and there are books in every drawer of my armoire and double-stacked on the shelves in the armoire, and filling my bookshelf, not to mention the books that I brought back in crates from my most recent apartment.

As my dad so lovingly put it, “there are enough books in this house to fill a small library and then some,” I’m not sure what kind of shelves he was looking at but I couldn’t help but agree. I might have too many books. I needed to get rid of some of them. In order to do this, I devised a ranking system, put myself on a semi-extremely-serious book buying ban, and asked all of my closest friends if they want newish books.

So first, my ranking system. When looking at my precious books I’ve started by asking myself 3 simple questions:

  • When was the last time that I read this book?
  • Did I enjoy this book?
  • Would I read this again?

I was holding onto quite a few middle-grade and YA Vampire books for some reason so the first question managed to knock quite a few of those off of my bookshelf and out of the dresser turned bookshelf, and into the plastic “to-be-dealt-with” bin.

Asking myself if I enjoyed the book led to a few extensional crises and pushed most of the books from my College English classes into a stack next to the “to-be-dealt-with” bin. I’m not sure if I enjoyed all of these books, but they seemed important and worth revisiting.

Would I read this again? I used to be an avid re-reader, my parents like to say that I would finish a book and immediately flip it over to start it again, while I’m sure that this isn’t a lie part of me hopes that it is at least a mild exaggeration. But as I’ve grown older and developed a better sense of time re-reading books seems like less and less of a priority, so this question turned into is this something I want to look at again. Unfortunately, most of the books that were left were books that I would want to look at again.

After what was supposed to be a foolproof system, the drawers aren’t quite as full but books are still double shelved

Upon discovering that this didn’t work out and that I somehow, managed to gain books within the process, I started to look at what books I want to take with me when I move into a place of my own. This made the process easier and took us from a small bookshelf, double-stacked shelves in my armoire, all of the drawers in said armoire, down to a small bookshelf, and double stacked books in my armoire and a 20-book stack on top of my desk.

This process is nowhere near over, and now I need to figure out what to do with the books that are sitting in my “to-be-dealt-with” bin. But the process is starting and I feel like it’s safe to lift my semi-extremely-serious book-buying ban and pick up a copy of When Dimple Met Rishi or The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

How do you decide to let go of books? Or when you need to start letting books go? Let me know in the comments because I doubt this is a problem that is ever going to be solved.


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