You’ll never find me; I’m buried in books.

Admit it . . . you have some borrowed books laying around and a stack of books you’ll never read. Is it time for a book purge or a book swap?

I’ve collected a lot of books over the past few months. My bookshelves are lined two-deep in spots (see photo), and I keep adding new books to my TBR list! I’m a bit of a neat freak, so this does not sit well with me.

“Book clutter” adds to your mental clutter, which can actually keep you from reading. When you have too many books staring you in the face, it’s overwhelming. Those lovely TBRs can start to feel like a giant stack of to-dos.

Below are some quick and easy steps to purging the books you know you don’t have the time or energy to read. (If you have a lot of bookshelves in your home, you may want to take this challenge one bookcase at a time.) The goal: To create a bit of bookshelf room and a short list of high priority books to read.

Tools Needed:

Sticky notes or sheets of paper, marker/pen, an assortment of large and small canvas bags or paper/plastic bags, and your camera/phone. You may want to put on comfortable clothes and grab a favorite drink or snack. Things are about to get serious.

Sift and Stack:

For this purge, we’re going to focus on three major book categories: borrowed/gifted books, books you’ve already read, and books you haven’t read.

It’s borrowed or gifted: Pull out every book you borrowed or received as a gift. Remember, you did not pick most of these books yourself. They’ve been your welcome guests these many months/years, but they didn’t come to stay. They are ready to move on. Make stacks and mark them: Keep and Give Back/Give Away.

You’ve read it already: Pull out every book you’ve read before and ask yourself an important question: Will I ever read it again? If you can’t wait for the day when your kids will read it or if it’s a book you frequently re-read or reference, then save it. Otherwise, give the rest to someone else who might enjoy them. Make two stacks and mark them: Keep and Give Away.

You’ve never read it: Pull out the books you’ve never read and answer these questions: Why did you buy them? Are they classics you think you might read one day; books someone recommended; books on topics you wish you knew more about; or books you feel like you should read? Pick a few you really want to read and let the rest go. Make two stacks and mark them: Keep and Give Away.

5 Simple Steps to Unburdening Your Bookshelves:

  • Step 1: Go back through your Keep piles. Make a final stack you really love and want to read or re-read.
  • Step 2: Dust your shelves and put the Keep stacks back in place. You can organize by genre, color, or alphabetical order.
  • Step 3: Bag up and give back any borrowed books. Your friends and family will thank you!
  • Step 4: Go through the Give Away piles and select loving new homes for the rest. Put a few books in bags to give to friends or family members who might want them, donate others to your local library, sell a few (if it’s worth it), or consider hosting a book swap.
  • Step 4: Take all the bags to your car. Make your rounds and deliver each bag. Finish this step. You’ll be glad you did!
  • Step 5: Treat yo’ self! Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back, and treat yourself to an evening of reading. You’ve earned it!

Have you ever attended a book swap? Comment below.

Join the Kindred Spirit Community:

Kindred Spirit Book Club Facebook group: If you love to chat with other book-lovers, then please join us on Facebook for weekly discussions! We’re discussing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie as our July read-along.

Free Download: To download my printable English Garden reading map and activity guide, click here.

If you missed the other articles in this summer series, you can catch up here.


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