Let’s talk books. As a former school librarian, I adore them. They also make for gorgeous home decor so I tend to collect them. I view each one of my children’s books as personal friends. They are like treasures. Which can make decluttering and organizing books challenging to say the least. Since we’re following the lifechanging Marie Kondo (KonMari) Method of tidying, I wanted to share how I cut the cord on my book collection and encourage you to do the same!
——–> Don’t forget to print out your FREE KonMari Decluttering Checklist! <———–
First, gather all your books in a huge pile. ALL. OF. THEM. (Note that if you have kids, you have my permission to tackle those AFTER you do the bulk of your books because that is a whole different ballgame– see below for that one!)
Don’t forget about the following categories:
- guidebooks & how-to manuals
- books you use as decor
Go through and touch each one. The number one question to ask is: Does it spark joy?
If not, out it goes! If yes, here’s some more hard questions to ask:
- Have you read it? If not, how long have you had it? Will you really read it? If you’ve already read it, will you REALLY read it again?
- Do you still refer to it or cook recipes from it on a continual basis?
- Why are you holding onto it? Can you honor it in some other way?
I’m pretty good about weeding my personal book collection, but there were still many in there I was keeping for the wrong reasons. Some I hoped to read, but still hadn’t read 5 years later. Others were once I enjoyed the first time and *hoped* to read again but hadn’t. Others were autographed by the author. Some were simply decorative. There were cookbooks I hadn’t cracked open in years. All of those had to go– they are weighing me down. So out they went to the thrift store!
The AFTER feels ohhhhhh sooooo goooood!
Once they were gone, an incredible sense of breathing room came back into my life. No longer did I look at the books and blame myself for not reading them yet, or cooking their recipes. It was like an invisible weight was cut from mind.
Sorting Through Your Cookbooks & Recipes
When it comes down to it, I rarely use more than 5 of my cookbooks. Most of them I’ve kept because I aspire to cook from them; however, due to time or reality I rarely crack them open. Plus, so many recipes are now available online having massive amounts of cookbooks doesn’t make much sense.
After brutally evaluating how much I actually use each one, I kept only a handful of favorites:
- The Joy of Cooking— a classic to be handed down to my kids. The Salmon Spice Rub is a favorite.
- The Whole30— my food bible, I do a Whole30 cycle 4 times a year and LOVE the simply yet tasty recipes and advice this book offers.
- The Complete Book of Greek Cooking— this one automatically opens to the Chicken Souvlakia page each time, and the Tzatziki sauce recipe page is a close second. This cookbook tastes like childhood.
- Mrs. Fields Cookie Book— holds all our Christmas cookie recipes and more. True classic.
- The Skinnytaste Cookbook— my mom got this for me for my birthday and I already love it!
- Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook— throwback from my childhood, the recipe for french fries is literally ‘Open a bag of frozen french fries. Add to cookie sheet. Bake. Sprinkle with salt.’ It’s a total classic and my daughter loves to make the easy recipes (most of which are a little more complex than the french fries).
How to Get a Handle on Magazine Overload
Magazines are a favorite of mine. I’ve whittled down our subscriptions to just a few, but currently we have House Beautiful, Consumer Reports, and Click for Kids coming into our home monthly (but let’s be honest, also a ton of catalogs). Historically, I’ve collected them in a basket until they overflow and then get fed up and go through all of them at once. After this massive decluttering spree, I’ve now managed to get rid of the basket and follow this simple system instead:
1. Read the magazine and pull out articles/recipes/ inspiration photos as I go
2. Recycle the magazine
3. Pin the recipes or inspiration photos if available online, if not, pin to my DIY bulletin board
Here’s my stash of pulled out pages, ready to be pinned!
Decluttering & Organizing Children’s Books
Now about my children’s books. Sigh.
Since we have a massive kid’s book collection (and my kids are still very young and truly adore each and ever book– my daughter reads about 20 a day and that’s not an exaggeration) I did theirs separately. This was painful. I actually go through it about once a month and weed out any books that fit a niche they no longer love– a certain princess or movie, for example. Here’s the criteria I used for our most recent weeding:
- does it spark joy?
- is the topic/ theme outdated (books about movies or characters or toys they no longer like?)
- are they past that particular stage (ie, board books, though my kids still love most of their board books!)
As my kids get older I know I’ll be more brutal with the weeding, but at 5 and 7, I can’t seem to cut the cord. They still bring all of us LOTS of joy. So they stay.
I’m not gonna lie, this is the AFTER. She reads each and every one of these!
How To Discard Books
With books, there are many places to either donate or sell them. Personally, I like to pass them on to my school library. Many are underfunded and outdated, so it’s a good place to start. There are many charities looking for used kids’ books so if you wish to donate them I know they will be appreciated. If you wish to sell them, here’s a few places to try:
- Facebook yard sale groups
- Used Book Stores
- Kids’ Consignment Sales (for kids books)
Since I’m such a rapid consumer of them, I rarely buy books anymore. Mostly I put them on reserve at the library. That way they’re free and there’s no clutter! The ones I do buy get passed along to friends. Using this system keeps clutter OUT of your home and brings gifts to others as well.
Your assignment: relentlessly weed your books this week and report back to me in the comments or on our Facebook page. 🙂
Start our KonMari Method Decluttering series from the beginning!
- How This Little Book will Change Your Life (Plus a KonMari Method Cheat Sheet)
- Free Printable KonMari Decluttering Checklist
- 10 Steps to Declutter Your Clothing Once and For All
- How to Organize Your Underwear Drawer
- How to Declutter Books and Magazines (you are here)
next: Take Control of the Paper Monster (How to Declutter & Organize Papers)
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