Re-reading the book shelf

My husband and I have a lot of books. Before writing this post I did a quick count of everything stored on our bookshelves and discovered over 300 books! And that doesn’t include the kids’ books or those stored in boxes in the loft. I love books and, even more, shelves crammed with them. Having grown up in a house with lots of them I find it strange to visit homes that don’t have any. I also do some volunteer reading with local primary school children and know how important it is for kids to have access to books. At the moment our bookshelves look like this and, yes I know it’s sad that I have colour coded the books:


BUT as I start to embrace the concept of minimalism and de-cluttering I know the book issue is one I have to tackle. I know that Joshua Fields Millburn from The Minimalists has just four (!)  books here, although he makes much use of his Kindle.

I know that I could never  be parted from all my books but I have started to seriously cull my collection. I have applied a a few basic rules such as:

Do we have another copy? If so, get rid of I was surprised at how many duplicates we had in our home (husband and I both did American Literature degrees). These have since been donated except for our individual copies of ‘Moby Dick’ which I know I’m keeping for sentimental reasons.

Can I get something back from getting rid of this book? There is a great second-hand book store in Bath that takes paperbacks in exchange for cash.  I also wrote here about using the book swapping website Read It Swap It and another blogger has suggested green metropolis. Using this methods I can apply the ‘one in, one out’ rule to my home library or better still ‘none in, one out’.

– Can I re-purpose a book? I recently struggled with getting rid of an old book from childhood. It was a Richard Scarry book and I loved it for the illustrations. After much deliberation I decided to keep only those pages that had meant something to me as a child. I have now kept these few pages and, as some of them included a month by month guide, I have started to frame those illustrations and hang them in our house. Already the children have noticed and commented on them – more than they ever did when the book was on their shelf.


Will I ever re-read this book? This can prove to be a bit of a stumbling block. In theory I would like to just keep those books which I know I will read again. Otherwise what pleasure can I take from a book on my shelf which will only be there to look at and not picked up again? So I have started to apply this principle and,very slowly, am starting to re-read those books which I have kept.

There are some great tips about de-cluttering your bookshelves here and I will really try to apply some of them. I particularly like the idea of devoting one shelf to books you plan to read/re-read and also having a ‘Desert Island’ shelf. (This would ruin my colour coding!)

I still have a long way to go to re-read all 300 books on our shelves but by asking myself “Will I read this again?” has helped to inform my decision when editing my library. It has also opened up a whole new choice of books for me to read.

7 thoughts on “Re-reading the book shelf

    • Thanks. The other challenge I have is with my birthday and Christmas coming up not to ask for too many books, or hardbacks at least which take up so much space. I’m going to really try using the library more .

  1. GAH!!! I don’t think I could do it. It feels like my books become part of me. I have taken to using a Kindle to help with the clutter, but the books I have will just have to remain for now. I applaud you for taking this huge step.

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