My book collection is exploding! HELP!


No, these aren’t my books, but this isn’t all that far from what my bookshelves look like. Image courtesy of Alfons Morales, Unsplash.

My friends, meine Freunden, mes amis, arkadaşlarim, I need your advice. It’s definitely time to start purging some books from my household.

My joke to the people I know is that my place looks like a library exploded in it. Most of the horizontal surfaces at my place have books on them. Even my dining table has a book or two on it. I also have boxes of books since I ran out of bookshelf space.

I suspect that my books multiply as soon as I fall asleep at night. They creep into my closet and have small, dimly lit orgies so that they don’t wake me up. (They’re probably tasteful literary orgies, mind you. My books have standards, after all.)

My personal papers, magazines and mail-order catalogues multiply, too. I think the orgies that my books are having are giving them ideas.

The problem is deciding what books to get rid of. Some are an easy choice; I’ve borrowed some books from my sib and those will be returned at the next available opportunity. There are other books that I’ve only read once and don’t particularly want to keep around. Some are just old, with outdated information.

Some books can be donated to my local bookstore. They’ll take certain books, particularly anything that deals with history.

My church and local library might take some others. Our parish hall has a big cart with a lot of books on it, and there’s a bit of space here and there.

I have two rules when it comes to deciding what stuff to get rid of — the two-year rule and the 20-year rule. For instance, if I haven’t worn something in two years or come into contact with it in any way, it’s usually time to donate it somewhere. The 20-year rule is where I look at the object and think, “Will I still want this item around in 20 years?”

When it comes to getting rid of things, books are different. Books are personal. Some books I don’t want to give away because they were gifts. Other books have characters that I want to read again and again — it’s like revisiting old, dependable friends that take you on a brief journey away from reality.

I have a book on Fabergé eggs that I bought a while back. I’m not letting that one go, either. As I told the bookseller, “I don’t have the budget for Fabergé eggs, so this is the next best thing.”

I also have entire collections of books by some authors — Agatha Christie, Nora Roberts, Dick Francis and Louis L’Amour. Not to mention Mary Balogh, some of the classic literary novels, and books related to digital marketing or social media.

But it’s hard deciding what books should stay and what should go. I draw some consolation from the fact that when I donate books, they’ll go to some lucky person who will come across them, flip through the pages, and settle down in some cozy corner to read them. You could almost consider it a public service, making other people happy in this way.

Even when I do purge some books, they come back. Eventually I get more books, whether as gifts or as purchases. I’ll have to toughen up and like Elsa from the movie “Frozen” — let it go.

Blog readers, any advice? When you’re cleaning house, how do you decide what books to pack up for disposal? What are your rules for getting rid of books? Let’s discuss.



Filed under Writing

10 responses to “My book collection is exploding! HELP!

  1. Servetus

    There’s also, which I have used with profit for quite a while. I usually list about a dozen books at a time and then I wait to list more until I’ve used up all my credits.

    As far as sorting out books, I’ve moved a lot, so the question for me was always whether I wanted to pay to move the item or not. That probably doesn’t help you much.

  2. I’ll swap you mine for yours. At least we’d have NEW stuff to read. I have given books to libraries until they said they were out of bookshelves. To high schools, senior centers … basically, any place that would take them. And you know what? We could STILL open a library AND a DVD shop. And an antique doll shop and an antique store for Chinese porcelain.

  3. I also habt eine collection buchs. Sum to keep and use to create stories. Most were giben mein as a young fraulein. Gut choices.

  4. I began a children’s book collection back in college and after schlepping crates of books around a couple of moves I decided to keep my book collection on Goodreads. Not helping, I know. But the local nursing homes might appreciate donations as they don’t usually have funds to purchase reading material.

  5. I relate to this in a lot of ways. I definitely get what you mean about the struggle to give away books- especially if they were a gift- because they’re very personal. I have found, though, that with limited space, I have to give away books I just didn’t enjoy and won’t read again (with some exceptions in the latter category). And I definitely draw comfort from the fact that when I donate them, they’ll find their way to a better home (and in the case of when I didn’t like them, this is especially comforting, as I like to think they’ll find their way into the hands of someone who actually likes them).
    PS I love your comments on the book on Faberge eggs- I feel like I should get a book on it too now 😉

    • I was thinking over what to give away today. There are a few books I’ve only read once or twice; those will probably be the first to go.

      The Faberge book I have is “Carl Faberge” by Geza von Habsburg. It’s an interesting read. Carl was quite the master craftsman. The book says that if he didn’t like a piece produced by one of his workers, he’d smash it with a hammer. Talk about your tough critics!


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