Hello, my name is Amy, and I’m a bookaholic.
Seriously. I love books. I have been an avid reader from the time I was a toddler. The library has always been one of my most favorite places on earth, and I have been taking my not-quite-two year old regularly since she was only about 12 months old. Much to my delight, she is already obsessed with books herself. Just this evening, in fact, we were Facetiming with my parents, whom she adores. We recently got a new cabinet to organize all her toys, and my mom asked her what her favorite toy was. She immediately ran over to the cabinet and pulled out a book. That’s my girl!
While loving books and having a passion for reading is certainly not a bad thing, it can quickly start to take up a lot of precious space in your house. We live in a society of stuff. Somehow, stuff has become directly correlated with success, wealth, and status, among other things. Well, for this organization nut, too much stuff is incredibly stressful and overwhelming. And if you have kids, you know that it’s almost impossible to not have too much stuff.
I knew way before the holidays even arrived that we were going to have to make some major changes at our house if I wanted to keep my sanity intact. The main thing that I knew would be necessary was a major, whole house purge. I am currently right in the middle of this and, woo-wee, you should see some of the rooms in my house. It’s a cruel irony that when you are organizing, things always get worse before they get better. The better is worth it, though, so onward I trudge.
Today, I am only going to talk about decluttering books, but this is something that can be applied to just about any category of clutter.
As I said in the beginning of the post, I love books, and if you read this post last week, I even referred to myself as a book hoarder. The funny thing is, though, that I rarely re-read books. I’ve never been the type to have a favorite book, or favorites, that I read over and over again. I have maybe read a handful of books more than once. So, why can’t I seem to let them go? Maybe because it’s fun to know that you have a multitude of far-reaching worlds and galaxies, to die for romances, thrilling adventures and mysteries, as well as countless “How-to”s right at your fingertips. Whatever the reason…it was time to let go.
So, here’s my simple two-step process for decluttering. (My husband helped me with the books, since a lot of them were his.)
- We went through every bookcase in the house and boxed up books that we were willing to let go of for Goodwill. The books that we kept were 1) music books (we’re both professional musicians, so these are pretty necessary to have on hand), 2) some biking/running books (we are both runners and occasional bikers), 3) religious/spiritual/inspirational books, 4) some favorites, 5) books we haven’t read, but plan on reading at some point, and 6) books that my daughter may enjoy someday.
- This is the only other step in the process, but it is absolutely vital. A couple of days after you complete step one, repeat it. Then, repeat it again a few days after that. And so on and so on, until you go through step one and don’t clear out a single book from the shelves. Then, and ONLY then, you are done. I think I went through my shelves on 4 or 5 different occasions before finally declaring myself finished.
It’s hard to let go of things. I think it’s just part of human nature. It’s particularly hard to let go of a large quantity of things at one time. That’s why going back with fresh eyes, a smaller stockpile, and a renewed determination will help you clear the maximum amount of stuff out. And again, this is something that can be applied to many different areas of clutter – clothes, shoes, craft supplies, toys, etc.
We ended up clearing 128 books out of our house! The two main bookcases in my house are now looking pretty empty, which I’m loving. I’m also excited because it means that they now need to be restyled. Woohoo! That’s the best part of the whole process, right?
If you are working on decluttering right now, as so many people are, try out the tip I mentioned above, and let me know how it goes.