The Ebb and Flow Of My Bookshelves

Upon finishing a book, after processing and all the normal things, the question that dashes through my mind even before “what to read next?” is “Am I going to keep this book?” That might surprise you since I told you I’m a book hoarder who is drowning in books but that’s mostly because I keep taking in new books. Honestly, at this point, most of my bookshelves are full of unread books.

I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of books after I’ve read them. I have four bookcases and I really don’t want to get anymore right now — unless I can have a whole library and in our current dwelling that means either giving up the bedroom or the bathroom or the living room. I have been trying to be a little more of a minimalist (trying is the operative word here) and I don’t want to keep things I’m not going to use…or in this case read.

It’s been hard to be so ruthless about it because on one hand I’m like MAN I paid for this book. It should stay! Or what if I want to lend it to someone? And sometimes it’s purely superficial because the cover is so BEAUTIFUL. And also because I just WANT to see SOOOOO many books in my possession. And sometimes I feel really conflicted because I feel like by getting rid of a book I’m like “YOU ARE NOT WORTHY” when the book, in reality, was quite good and I liked it.


So as soon as I finish a book I make a decision to put it one of two places — back in its place on the shelf or I put it in my designated “to find homes for” space. I make my decision based on four questions.

1. Would I consider it a favorite? If it’s a favorite it automatically gets shelf space. If I was reading from an ARC/ebook I purchase said book because FAVORITES ALWAYS GET SPACE ON THE SHELF.

2. Will I reread it? Sometimes a book might not be an all time favorite but I could see myself wanting to revisit the story at a later date or reread certain passages or it was so darn thought-provoking that I know it will just keep on giving. Most of the time favorites ARE also rereads but sometimes not and I just want to have them to lend out and to just have in my collection.

3. Is it part of a series I love? If it’s part of a series I love, I’ll keep it even if that particularly book wasn’t a fave. I don’t care about matching series covers as I’ve admitted to before but I absolutely WOULD hate starting at an incomplete series though there are some books I’d rather wish didn’t exist in a series. Amirite here?

4. Is it signed? Sometimes I’ll keep a book that maybe wasn’t a favorite or a reread but I really LIKED if it is signed — especially personalized by an author I love. If it’s not personalized it’s a case by case. It’s tricky because sometimes I really liked the author but did NOT like the book at all.


So, if the answer is no to the four questions above what do I do?


Pass them on to friends and family: If there’s a book I enjoyed and can think of a friend/blogger who might also enjoy it, I pass it along to them because I’d rather see it get read by a friend. Also, enter book club. They get dibs. I also pass them along to my teen niece and nephews A LOT.

Donate to bookish things I support: I donate them to my librarian friend + book clubber Katie for her to take to her library and put in the collection/use for sales to raise money for the library.  I also donate them to my library. I really love my library, even after a bad encounter with one nasty librarian, and I think their YA section is okay. I like to give back to them as much as I can. They’ve put some books in their collection and I always keep an eye out for when I can donate for their library sale. I also donate them to a neighbor who teaches English at a local high school and he puts them in his classroom.

If I exhausted all the ways of people I know + supporting my community, I will take them to a local women’s shelter and I plan on contacting a children’s hospital to see if they would take them (I don’t know what the rule is with that kind of thing).

There are so many different places I could donate my books to but these are just the ones that I personally do because I love matching books to readers first and foremost and I love supporting my local libraries and the English departments because I know it’s hard with resources being cut. I’ve also been wanting to look into other places in the community I can donate to also.

Even though I feel good passing them on + donating them, it’s so HARD being ruthless after I’ve finished a book. Aside from the very fond feelings for some of them,  there’s that actual parting with it thing that’s always HORRIBLE for a book hoarder. VERRRRRY TRAUMATIC.


But in order to be a little more minimalistic and simpler in life, gotta do what I gotta do. It’s still out of control by most (probably not book bloggers) standards but I do feel better about not having books just collecting dust when they are off living life and being read by someone else.

If you aren’t so good at culling your bookshelves you should take a look at April’s guide to culling your books! Very helpful for you if you don’t know where to start because it is super detailed and covers books you’ve not read which is where I’m BAD at deciding. I’ve always had a foolproof plan for BOOKS I’VE READ so I’m hoping April’s questions will help me with a system to get rid of the unread books collecting dust. Also maybe I should just stop buying random books? But honestly a lot of mine are from LONG LONG ago that I just can’t seem to part with even though it’s been 6+ years and I’ve still not read them.

Let’s Talk:

Do you keep all the books you buy after you read them because you can’t part with them? Are you ruthless with getting rid of books? What do you do with them when you do decide to remove them from your shelf? I’d love to know the ebb and flow of your bookshelf!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I actually donate most of the books I buy to the library. Since I use it a lot – it means the library didn’t have the book so I bought it. So when I finish it, I donate it to them.

    • You may want to check with your library and see if they actually take the books you donate and put them on the shelves. I discovered (after I was going to donate video games) that any books/games/magazines donated to my library is only sold in the friends of library sales. They don’t add them to the collection. FYI!

      • Yes this. I specifically designated these ones to the library and said I’d love them to go into the collection (they were NOT taking donations for friends of the library sales) and explained they were all new 2013 releases and either were gently used or not read at all (sometimes I get unsolicited finished copies). I know my librarian friend was able to put some in her YA collection that I donated to her because they were pristine and relevant. But very good point! Either way I figure I’m helping out the library so WIN though if it was a book I really loved and think teens would love I SO hope it gets on the shelf.

  2. I’m quite ruthless when it comes to getting rid of my books. I didn’t use to be, but when I started blogging, I got way more books than I’ve ever had before. I went through a stage of selling them on Amazon, but I found it was costing me more postage than I actually got for the book. It was a bit of a hassle too. Now a charity shop comes out to my house to get my books when I’ve had a cull. I gave them over 100 when I did my first cull. It felt brilliant! With some books, I just know I won’t read them again.

    • YES. I had 2 stages in my book buying.

      2008: when I got on Goodreads. My shelf EXPLODED with new books (I never really BOUGHT a ton of books before then) and I went to TONS of used book sales and such. SO MANY ADULT and NON FIC BOOKS!

      Then blogging in 2010. EXPLODED AGAIN. Even more. And then when I started getting ARCs and finished copies from pubs it just got out of control!!

      So I have mostly adult stuff that I haven’t read in YEARS to get rid of mostly but there are some YA’s that I know I’ll just never read bc I bought them when I first got into YA and was just buying EVERYTHING I was seeing.

  3. Yeeesss, this is a major problem for me. I like keeping every book I get. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten rid of any of the books I bought, even if they grated on my nerves. I should, but I just can’t part with them! They are my precious babies! When I look at a book that I read and hated (and that I should really get rid of), I just remember the time I had read it and then I get extremely nostalgic. The ~memories~ of the book gets to me! The book and I have a whole lotta history. ;D

    I should figure out what books I don’t want, but nostalgia, Jamie! It hits me! And it doesn’t going away. (It’s the equivalent of somebody giving me the puppy dog eyes. I cannot resist! Their eyes are too strong!) I have grown soooo attached to all the books I owned. I feel sad if I have to rid of them because I feel like I have abandoned them even though.

    One day, I won’t be surprised if my friends hold an intervention for me when there are stacks and stacks of books covering every inch of my floor. 

    • It’s been so hard to train myself to be this ruthless honestly! I was exactly like that before! Because you are right..THE MEMORIES. And like what if I want to look something up that happened in a book?? haha

      I always joked that Will was going to hold an intervention for me before he married me. Luckily he didn’t and has just adapted. Plus he’s got a crazy sneaker habit (thanks Nike!) and so he can’t say much! 😛

  4. I’m a terrible book hoarder. I have books I don’t even like sitting on my shelves because it’s mine. Lol. I bought that book, and it’s mine. I don’t like giving them away, but I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’m going to have to give some of them up. Eventually.

    • Haha eventually! 😛 I got to that eventually part too. It SUCKED but such is life and I feel okay about it. Good luck when you get to that point!

  5. I did a big book clean out a few years back and I have to say I kind of regretted it!

    If I really didn’t like a book though, I’ll happily give it away for my dad to car boot or something. No use having a book take up space if it was a really awful read (even if the pretty cover may be hard to part with :p)

    • That’s interesting that you say that! What did you regret? Like you went to look for a book and it was gone? I hope I don’t have any regret anytime. SO FAR SO GOOD.

      Hahha that last part.

  6. I sometimes give books away to my sister, but she rarely reads and it just ends up unread on her bookshelf. But the idea that the book is still in the same house is comforting, haha. I don’t have any other people to donate books though, although we are now exchanging books with our book club. I used to give them away to a second-hand book shop, but they closed down 🙁 It’s always so hard to get rid of books.. I really need to know, since I have NO space. I need to find a good way to lose some of the Adult books I know I won’t ever read.

  7. I totally get that dilemma. It wasn’t until recently that I started donating books. I have such a hard time parting books. I have to be completely, 110 % sure that I don’t want the book for me to give it away. If there’s even the slightest chance that I might want it I can’t give it up. I usually donate it to the library so I know that it’ll go to good use. I haven’t done it in a while but it’s still just so hard to. It’s such a conundrum because I have no space but it’s so hard to give it up.

    • If I’m unsure about a book I will keep it and then reevaluate in a couple months. Sometimes that helps me. Should have included that in my post! Perhaps I will add it! And it really is SUCH a conundrum. I WANT THEM BUT I CAN’T KEEP THEM ALL.

  8. I am in awe of your ability to give away books. This is something I really need to work on. For the longest time I was unable to make myself get rid of any books, period. Even ones I didn’t like. ‘They’re books!’ My mind would whisper. ‘How can you get rid of a BOOK?! That’s basically sacrilegious.’ I compromised by boxing up the ones I have no interest in rereading any time soon (or, for some of them, ever again if I’m totally honest) but as my office/spare room is now mostly full of boxes of books (‘it’s cool, you don’t need an office,’ says traitor brain, ‘you like working on the couch anyway.’) I have started to reevaluate my hoarder policy. After several weeks of considering, I was able to cull 10 books I am willing to part with (an embarrassingly small percentage, but BABY STEPS) and will hopefully be able to be more ruthless going forward. That or start substituting piles of books for furniture, because I’m going to start running out of space soon.

    • Hahah I was the same way!! I just had to DO it. I think moving to an apartment from a house (my stepdad’s) that was quite large with built ins and PLENTY of space for my bookshelves helped. I was even overflowing there but less so. I still have LOTS of books there I have to deal with actually now that I think of it. SIGH.

      I think that’s a good way to decide if you want to cull it. They always suggest something similar with clothes. Bag them up and if you go looking for it…KEEP it. If not, in 6 months, TAKE IT AWAY.

      But seriously..even being able to part with 10 is good! It’s a start. And LOL your comment is exactly why I had to start culling because Will kept saying that about using books as our bed.


    Secondly, I had three of those huge storage bins COMPLETELY filled with books (I couldn’t even fit a paperback children’s book in there, that’s how full they were). And when I moved across the country, I moved with just a suitcase. So I had to get rid of them. All of them. So now, I have a whopping NINE books that I physically own. NINE.

    So I won’t be getting rid of any for a looooong time, lol.

  10. I’m really luckily that I have a lot of space right now for books. And although I definitely buy way too many books, I do get the majority of my books from the library. However, lately I have been thinking I want to donate some of my books to the library. But what I really need to do is cull my DVD collection. When I was a little younger, I loved owning DVDs, and now I have way too many 🙂

    • The library has def helped me with my crazy buying habits! It was a little bit ridiculous!!

      Good luck with the DVDs! I wonder if you can donate them to the library?

  11. This is becoming a big problem for me. I’ve hoarded a lot of books the past few years after discovering book blogs and with that my renewed passion for reading, and now I’m running out of space. But there is just something nice about owning books, even books I didn’t particularly like. I also feel like since I paid money for it, that it is mine and it should stay on my shelves foreeever. Which is not realistic at all.

    A problem for me is that I have no idea what to do with the books I don’t really want anymore. I don’t know anyone who would be interested in the books I own, so I couldn’t give them away. Since I live in the Netherlands but read in English, almost all of my books are in English. I don’t think my library would be interested in receiving them from me! I should probably investigate this before making assumptions, but I’m pretty sure they won’t want my English books. This is also the same reason I don’t think I could give it to any charity or something like that. I’m sure they would appreciate books I’d donate, but not books in English. But I don’t want to throw away my books either, that would feel like such a waste!

    • There really IS something nice about owning them. I just love admiring them as dumb as that sounds haha. But yeah…I got to my point when I really exhausted our space with piles EVERYWHERE and hiding them in random spots and in my car hahha. The paid $$ thing was also the big kicker for me too. HARD EARNED MONEY. But then I decided that I was going to look at it like I was paying for an EXPERIENCE rather than a THING. even though it is a thing but it helped me to get rid of ones if I’m never going to read them again.

      Hmm you have quite the conundrum with that! I would think there are other readers who read English too? Idk. That’s a hard one! I hope you are able to figure that out. I wonder if like in the touristy areas there are hostels to donate them to? Yeah throwing away books EEEEK NEVER.

      • There must be other people who read in English here (there are Dutch book bloggers, so there must be many more people) but I don’t know any irl. But donating them to hostels might be my solution! Never thought of that. But throwing away NOOOOOOO. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  12. 2014 is going to be a year of changes for me. One of my goals is to really THINK about books before buying/accepting/requesting them. Is it a title I’ll actually get to? Will it be a book that sits unread on my shelves for years? Matt & I currently have three ceiling-to-floor bookcases and since he’s not a reader, I’ve taken command of them 🙂

    I’m definitely a hoarder – those three bookcases aren’t nearly enough and my ‘office’ area has piles upon piles of books on the floor, windowsills, etc. Part of me loves having so many books, but then the reasonable side takes over and something needs to change.

    Last week I did my first ever ‘first person to reply get this book’ tweet. I had an ARC of a title I knew I wasn’t going to read (it was a sequel for a book I HATED). I kept telling myself to hold onto it, that maaaaybe I’ll read it just for laughs. Nope. 2014 rolled around and I decided it was time for a change. I have tons of other books to read, books I’ll actually enjoy. Why bother holding onto one I know I wouldn’t like? Jamie, this might sound totally bonkers, but it felt so liberating doing that flash giveaway. I felt great about clearing up some space (even if it was only a single book!) and knew it would be going to someone who actually wanted to read it. Hahaha, not to mention Matt was certainly happy about me having one less book!

    • I think that IS the root of the problem what you’ve said – the buying part. I need to ask myself these same questions!

      Haha and I’m glad that was liberating! It’s a start!

  13. Oooo quite curious about your bad encounter with a nasty librarian.

    I feel bad because my future sister-in-law lets me borrow books, no problem. I, on the other hand, am very hesitant to lend her MY books because she’s so hard on books! She tried to lend me a book once that looked like it went swimming with her in the bath tub! It would be OK if I didn’t want the book back, but… 😡

    • Haha basically I returned my books and then browsed and came back up with new ones and she VERY nastily told me I had books still out and I said, “Oh no I actually just returned them all when I came in.” and she like checked and didn’t see anything and was like NO you are missing THIS one and THIS one…go check and home. You didn’t bring it. I was like YES I DID. I was meticulous about checking what I still had out before I came. And then she was SO CONDESCENDING (I look young but am 28) and was like SWEETIE. You did not. Just got home and I bet you will find them. People were even staring bc of this exchange. I was humiliated. And then I was like WHATEVER (in tears). I brought them so I don’t know how I’m going to find them in a house they are no longer at. And then she happens to look down and sees that she was JUST checking them in. Like they were right next to her hand the whole DAMN time. And instead of apologizing for how rude she was to me…ya know what she says? Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t see these before I checked these books out for you because I wouldn’t have been able to let you take those out without paying a fine because THOSE books would have put you over. No sorry..NOTHING. I was just stared at her and grabbed my books and walked out. I was LIVID and embarrassed. SIGH.

  14. I generally get over 90% of my books from the library, so the only books I have on my shelves are ones not found there, which I get rid of if I didn’t like them, and books i loved so much I found myself getting out of the library repeatedly…I still have like, three bookshelves worth, but they are books that have been with me forever, some as early as middle school! (my copy of the giver, phantom tollbooth, etc)

    • The library has DEF been helping me a lot! And knowing that a book I gave away MIGHT be there if I want to reread it again…makes me feel like I have a security blanket at least haha.

      I have my childhood books in a box somewhere! Didn’t even think of them! GAH!

  15. LOL love the gifs in this post. Well done, doyke. I need to go through my books— I tried a few months ago— really tried, and it looked nice and clean for about 2 weeks, but then it was overflowing again! I obviously didn’t try hard enough. 🙂 Plus… ALA and BEA are coming up… and you know what that means– TROUBLE. I would appreciate your willingness to pass them off to book club if I was ever THE FIRST TO ARRIVE. hahaha I always get there last and it is like sloppy seconds. bahaha.

    • Yes BEA and ALA won’t be good. Though I was proud of myself for BEA this past year. I barely brought anything home. My problem, as you have seen firsthand, is the ARCs which I’m not complaining about but they keep coming and I can’t read that fast. THANK GOD FOR BOOK CLUB. Maybe I will have a new rule that nobody can take u ntil all are present?

  16. or thirds…. or fourths… :/

  17. I’m not a keeper. And this applies to other aspects of my life besides books. But about the book thing, I’m such a library nut (being a librarian helps) that I KNOW I can get any book any time if I ever want to re-read it. We have phenomenal inter-library loan in Illinois. And I LOVE passing a book on in the hope that someone will enjoy reading it (even if I didn’t.) I do keep my signed books, though.

    • Being unemployed as definitely helped me utilize the library and stop buying so many books! It’s made me realize that I can just read it from the library (our loan system is good too if it’s not there) and then if I LOVED a book..I can buy it.

  18. I love your system for deciding what to do with them! I’ve only just started the process of giving books to friends and such. I only have one bookshelf which makes things REALLY hard, but I don’t currently have room for a second one and some of my books are already hanging out on the shelves in my siblings’ rooms. I love your system, though! I should start thinking of one for myself.

    • I def think it’s a good idea to start to find a system for yourself. Honestly I wasn’t THIS ruthless to’s just grown to be that. Sometimes now I’ll even let a few slip through my questions and put them back on the shelf to reevaluate in a few months after some time if I can’t decide if I want to get rid of it.

  19. I have so many books! I keep them stored away in boxes but I have an increasingly nagging feeling that they could probably be in better homes. I don’t think I can donate them since a huge chunk of them are ARCs but recently, I’ve started to give the old ARCs to friends and to other bloggers, which is difficult because I’m such a hoarder of books, even the ones I don’t like. Hopefully I can get started on cleaning out my bookcase soon… eventually.

    • Yes I had so many OFF my shelves in piles and boxes that it got CRAZY. I still have a TON at my parents house that I need to go through. I will probs cull most of them honestly at this point.

      With ARCs this is my system (because that is honestly a huge chunk of my mess too)
      * I pass them on to blogger friends / tours.
      * I donate them to my niece/nephews because their fam has LOTS of kids and no extra money.
      * I donate them to my library friend who is able to use them for programs and such. I also give them to my neighbor who teaches HS english and the kids are free to take those.
      * I throw them away. That’s the answer we got from a publicist at a small luncheon during BEA when someone asked about this matter. She said they are promotional materials and they served their purpose plus they are not well made. BUT she also said all the above things were perfectly acceptable to do with them.

  20. This is an awesome post! I just did a winter cleaning of my shelves. They were triple stacked… that’s probable too stacked haha. I got rid of tubs worth of books I read and didn’t like or just didn’t see myself ever reading. It was hard, but I tried not to think about it too much just to get rid of it if that was my first instincts. Thanks for sharing!

  21. When I finish reading a physical book (which is getting rarer and rarer as I’m drowning in eARCs), I ask myself one question: Is it signed?

    Yes: Back on the shelf!
    No: If it’s a finished copy, it goes to my library. If it’s an ARC, it goes to ARCycling.

    Easy. I don’t keep books, since I’m not a big rereader, and I have plenty of pretty covers to stare at of the books I haven’t read yet.

  22. Once I have read a book I mostly only keep it if is by a favourite author, I think the author is going to become a favourite author (Rainbow Rowell would be my 2013 example), or it is part of a series. I have a harder time with non-fiction. I know there is the internet, but there are certain subjects I have a hard time parting with the knowledge so those books usually stay on my shelves…

  23. Moving in with Eric, the merging of books and figuring out what to do was difficult. I won’t part with ANY book, but managed to say good-bye to a few. He teaches English at night, so he gives them to students (we have a basket for books we are giving away) but are still out of bookshelf space. He also can’t help taking free books from outside.

    I’m so glad you mentioned shelters. When I volunteered for a men’s shelter and I asked what one of the things they wanted more of, the answer was books. Lots of books.

    Great entry!

  24. This was a very interesting post! I’ve honestly never thought about giving away your books.. (unless I hated it of course, but they rarely happens to me). It’s true though that every month my collection grows and I’m only 21.. what about in 3,5,10 years! This is something I’m going to think about! I wonder if my library accepts donated books.. hmm I’ll have to find out!
    Very interesting post!

  25. I used to be such a book hoarder, and then I started using It’s free to sign up for, and you post your books by ISBN number. Then other members can request them, and all you pay for is media mail shipping costs. You get credits for every book you send, and you can use the credits to either request free books from other members or you can use them to buy new books on (those usually cost a little extra money as well). If I can’t give the book away in person to someone who I know will like it, I really love being able to send it to someone from paperbackswap who requested it and really wants to read it!

  26. My boyfriend and I are HUGE bookworms, and probably actual book hoarders. I find it impossible to get rid of books, and only lately did I decide to stop buying so many books (but considering the amount of ARCs that come in it’s a never-ending battle. 🙁

    My criteria is usually:
    -Did I hate it? If so, do I know someone that would like it? If I do, then I give it away. If I can’t think of somebody who would want it, I donate it to the library.
    -Do I already have a copy? If it’s special in some way (like a first-edition or signed), then I keep it. If I just have an extra, it’s given away.

    I tend to read books from the library, and only buy the books I love now, so that cuts it down a bit, but I’m still working on it. Le sigh.

  27. I solve the problem reading only e-book and purchaising only books I really love and want to hug and cuddle all the time.

  28. I’ve been trying to get better with culling my books and I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job…with the books I’ve read. I have a bajillion books I haven’t read yet and they’re not going anywhere until I read them. Since I have a lot of adult novels I can’t really donate them to schools but I’m definitely going to keep that in mind when I have YA books to donate. My immediate thought after I finish a book is “Will my mom like this?” If I say yes, then it goes in my suitcase to bring up to her the next time I visit. If I don’t think she’ll love it I think if my grandma, sister, or boyfriend’s mom will like it. Yes, same thing, no, into another stack it goes. I have a couple of piles of books that I don’t think will suit any friends or family so I think I’m going to bring them to a used bookstore that offers a credit so you can pick up other titles that are at the store. Defeats the purpose of culling but you never know what treasures you can find in a used bookstore!

  29. That’s wonderful that you donate your books to your local library and women’s shelters! I usually just take mine to Half-Price Books, but maybe I’ll donate them instead the next time I have books to get rid of. Like you, my bookshelves are mostly filled with unread books. I did a pretty good job of cleaning out all the books I knew I wasn’t going to read again/didn’t love enough to keep last summer. The ones left that I have read are the books I can’t bear to part with, some because of sentimental value (I’ve had them since childhood) and others because I know I will want to reread or pass them down to my own family someday.

  30. I just…buy more shelves. Do I need to be embarrassed about this? Yes/no? It’s possible that I have a problem, but it’s such a wonderfully bookish problem that I think I’m just going to revel in it. I need to develop your willpower!

  31. I don’t buy as many books any more because I don’t like books with lots of cussing or sexual stuff, so it’s always a gamble when I buy a book. That’s why I’ve become besties with the library. Then I don’t feel bad if I DNF a book since I don’t actually own it. However, if I love it enough, I’ll go buy my own copy. This saves money (always a good thing!) and then my collection is full of books I actually love.

  32. Oh, I have a VERY hard time culling books. I do get rid of a LOT of them but I still have a ton. Part of it is that I inherited much of my grandmother’s collection of various long running series. Seriously I know my books are out of control but I don’t actually have a real shelving system at the moment (they’re all doubled up on these weird utility shelves). Supposedly hubs is going to build floor to ceiling shelves for me.

    Whenever I cull I always start very rabidly pulling out books to toss but as I get further down the shelves I start to get more picky about what to get rid of and if it takes too long (or if the pulled books don’t immediately go to donation) I start to reconsider stuff I’ve tagged to get rid of and find myself putting them back on the shelves :0

  33. Sarah (@EscapingSarah) says:

    I have a very large book collection that I am trying to get under control because I’m going to be moving in less than two years from now. I’ve already began implementing some plans to cull books. I have no problem getting rid of ARCs and passing on to friends, but it’s the new hardcovers that I’ve purchased and read that are harder for me to let go of. But I LOVE your comment above about how I should view those books and the money that I paid for them as an “experience” rather than a “thing.” In other words, I paid for and received many hours of entertainment and from those books. Thank you for pointing that out–I think that idea will help me continue to cull my book collection.

    Right now, I have over 350 physical books in my apartment, but my goal for this year is to read and donate or give away the majority of them so that my collection gets cut down to about 100 books total (or whatever the number is where all the books can fit on my shelves without being double-shelved).

    I want my collection to be filled with special books that are signed or books with strong sentimental values attached to them. I also would like to get to a point where I have read almost all of my books that I own. Currently, around 75% of them are unread, which is overwhelming. I would love to have only have a couple of unread books instead of hundreds.

  34. I’m working on this myself. My problem came when I essentially ran out of space. There is a joke in my house that if we could build my bed out of books we would. But that made me think about how I do have a lot of books and while I treat them as my children (that I will never have). But I’ve lately figured out that some of them I’m never going to read (and if I am, I can get them from the library. Hello! I’m a librarian!) I’m getting better about letting go (of books and things in general actually.) But it took a lot for me to get here. An embarrassing length of time, but I’m getting there.

    I tend to try to sell to my one indie and then half price books. Half Price Books donates a lot to the local libraries, the BIG booksale that is held downtown and a few charities I respect.

  35. I CANT get rid of my books! My parents hate it, but I have books everywhere!!! I will exhaust every possible way of shelving my books before I give them away! BOOKS ARE MY BABIES!!! They are there when no one else is! Although, I did recently go through some of them that I’ve had for years, and never read, and didn’t plan on reading and purged, but it was so hard! I had to do it quickly before I had a chance to change my mind! But I felt better after I did it, because I was giving to the community, and had more shelf space for new books! 🙂

    -Becca @Pivot Book Reviews

  36. When I first got back to reading, I kept every single book I bought because I was pretty much absorbing everything I could after a two year dry period, like OMG MY BABIESSS I’LL KEEP YOU ALL FOREVER. But then I found out that when I read this much I run out of room really quickly… So I had to be honest with myself and ask the same questions: “Am I going to read this again?” Some I even had to think if I was going to read at all! But now I have a lot more room on my shelves, and I was able to give some books away so that was nice!

  37. I’ve actually never had a hard time culling my books, whether read or unread, and I don’t know if that makes me a strange human being. But seriously, I can always decide which books I’ve are worthy of keeping on my shelves, and they usually fall in the same categories you’ve mentioned – favorites, worth rereading, series or signed. Honestly, if I don’t like a book that much or I find it forgettable? It gets donated/shared/passed on. Your system, however, seems pretty darn foolproof to me!

  38. I have a “favorites” book case. If it’s a favorite author, book or series, it goes there. If it’s not a favorite, I generally have no problem donating it to the library where I work or passing it along to friends or family. It feels freeing for me to donate books because I have so many and it clears up room in my house.

  39. I only keep books if they are still unread or (if read) they are a favorite or one that I know I will re-read. Maybe someday with a place of my own and space of my own, I’ll be able to just keep books, but for now I get rid of the ones that I’m not crazy about. Usually I give them to friends, my mom, or my grandma. If they don’t want them, I donate them to the local Salvation Army. I get a lot my books from there (hello, cheap prices), so I like to give back when I can.

  40. I pretty much do the same thing as you. Since blogging I have found that I keep more of my books than I used to which can be problematic because my shelves are overflowing. I need to get back into giving away the books that don’t fall into the will I re-read, is it my fave, is it signed categories.
    As usual another great discussion post!

  41. I have something that I call the sh*t box. This is the box (or closet space) of books that I don’t want. I just leave them in the box for giveaways, donations or anything else that I can use them for. I’m not at that stage that I’ve got no shelf space yet, but if that is to happen, I will start to need more shelves or something like that. LOL.

  42. This is a great topic and I really like your 4 questions/criteria whether to keep a book. I’m getting ready to move so I will definitely need to re-evaluate the books I’ve hoarded over the years in my current home. I’ve been selling some books back on or trading them on since I don’t really know of a really good place to donate my books. I have given some to book club people in a swap too. I’ve been scaling back on purchasing print books though so I guess I should create a criteria like yours and apply it to my current shelves.

  43. I’m AWFUL about culling YA/MG books. I’ve gotten better about adult books since I so rarely read them, but my YA/MG books are killing me. I find it almost physically impossible to get rid of signed finished copies. I can think of several off the top of my head that I didn’t like but hey, they’re signed! Another way I get myself in trouble is getting rid of finished copies/ARCs… by trading them for more books. Ugh.

    Actually, the threat moving is what makes me want to buy more books. Right now, I don’t have my own room, so over half my books are boxed under my bed. I keep buying more books in anticipation for the day that I have my own place and my room will be nothing but wall-to-wall books.

  44. I too am a book hoarder. I have four bookshelves full of books I have not read yet and boxes upon boxes in my closet. To be honest the ones in the closet are ones my mom has given me. When I am done reading a book I do not keep them most of the time. I do have one series I have kept and all the books I bought my kids I have kept. Starting this weekend I am going through the books in my closet and am going to be donating them to a women’s shelter. I want to give back. I feel as if it would mean something to someone to have something they can call their own when they have lost so much. I have also donated to a library before. I want others to enjoy books as much as I do so I do not mind giving them away.

  45. I’m bad about getting rid of books but I’ve been trying to be better about clearing off books that I know I’m never going to read and books that I read and didn’t really love.
    I do like to keep series books though even if there were some books in the series that were not worth keeping.

  46. I feel awful about getting rid of books, but with limited space, it is even worse when I have a new favorite and no where to put it. Like you mentioned, the amount of books I own is crazy compared to my friends, but perfectly normal in terms of a book blogger :]

  47. I have a really hard time parting with my books. I have given a bunch to my mom, she is a teacher and puts them in her classroom. That way I feel like they’re sort of still mine….because my mom has them. So if I ever want them back (I won’t) I can just ask her right? Right. I’m crazy. Lol. But actually for the most part, I only buy books that I know I want added to my shelves. I utilize the library as much as I can for new series. That way if I don’t like the book, no harm, no foul. If I loved the book (i.e 4 star rating or higher), I put it on my list to buy to add to my shelves. If I loved the first book in a series, I will buy the sequels automatically as well. So I guess I’m actually pretty good about it. Mostly bc I just don’t have the money to spend on books, though I wish I did. I just got a new job though so now that I’m working….*drums fingers together* I’m sure my shelves will be overflowing soon.

  48. I only hold on to my absolute favorite books. The rest I have no problem donating to the library. I’m happy if it ends up in the library collection or in the friends of the library sale. Either way, the library still benefits, and the book still gets in the hands of another reader 🙂

  49. If I hated the book, and it isn’t an ARC or Signed then I either sell it or give it away. But if I like a book just even a little bit it stays, which is kinda bad because I have currently no room on my bookshelf and haven’t found one that I like yet so it’s kinda hard.
    I am really bad with things like this. I just keep, keep, keep.

  50. When it comes to my books, I tend to keep everything. At the moment by collection isn’t all that big, though it has expanded significantly in the last two years. I don’t think I could bear to part with some of them. Though admittedly there’s probably a few I could get rid of, but while I have the space and no need to get rid of them, they’re staying! Though if I do get rid of any, I’ll definitely try to find a good home for them!

  51. When I switched to digital reading probably about 3 years ago now, I went through and did a big cull of my physical copies to clear up space. It was hard! Even though I had my Kobo now, and most of my physical copies were unread, it took a lot of deliberation. I eventually decided to just keep my favourites in physical form, but I kept putting my ‘unwanted’ books in a bag for my mum to take to work and let her colleagues take the ones they wanted, and taking them out again, and then putting them in… And I wasn’t even that much of a reader back then!

    Of course, my bookshelf keeps filling up again because I always purchase a physical copy of my favourite books, so the space I saved isn’t available anymore, haha!

  52. Wow, this is eerily similar to what I do. I also will get rid of books which don’t meet one of your four criteria, but it can be hard to admit I won’t re-read something. ARCs in particular, I have a hard time giving up!

  53. Several years ago I lost most of my books in a flood – which was pretty traumatic, but even then I STILL had too many books! That’s when I knew I had a problem. Now I try to be much more ruthless about passing them on. I donate them to the library, or gift them to family, or leave them in a little free library box:

  54. If I really liked the book, it’s part of a series I’m collecting, or an author, I’ll usually keep them. I very rarely keep romance though as they are similar to each other and I get so many used cheap that there’s just not enough room. I have hundreds of them now and pass them on unless they are the rare special ones.

  55. I’m a horrific book hoarder. And the vast majority of books on my shelves are TBRs. I’ve done book culls in the past, but it’s hard for me to part with any of them. I’m at the point now, thought, where I will easily give up books I didn’t like or know for a fact that I won’t reread. I use Paperback Swap as my main way of getting rid of books, although the problem with that is that it earns me credits to get replacement books, so I end up at a zero sum. I don’t know if it’s kosher or not, but I give ARCs to Goodwill. I thought (hoped!?) that when I got an e-reader, my hoarding would decrease. It has in that the number of physical books I accumulate is growing at a slower rate, but now my backlog of e-books is becoming a problem. You know you are a book hoarder when you find yourself buying a book that you didn’t realize you already own!

  56. I actually get rid of books quite often! If I read a book and don’t enjoy it, then I put it in a bag inside my closet. When that bag is full I go through it to make sure I don’t want to keep any of them and then I sell them to half price books or give them to charity. When I do sell them I can get money to buy books I may like better!

  57. Hi Jamie 🙂 I’m glad you made this post because I wanted to tell you that you actually helped me not be so much of a book hoarder. I don’t remember exactly when but I remember (it might have been in another blog post) where you said you like to keep favorites but you will get rid of ones you don’t want to reread/non-faves. It took some time to come around to it (and I’m still working on it) but I eventually came to love this idea/mindset and I took my books from almost 600 down to 400 and that’s some great progress! I got rid of books I didn’t like (because I even had trouble getting rid of ones I hated) and got rid of ones I liked but weren’t memorable or didn’t want to keep on my shelves. But (unlike you) the majority of the books I got rid of were ones I knew I would never read or was just no longer interested in reading them. I want to ever so often keep going through them because I know there’s more i should get rid of. At one point I’m like I’d love to have a library filled with books but what’s stronger is that I’d rather have a little library filled with books I love, have read, want to reread, or really excited to read. I want to get my owned TBR under 100 books (so I need to get rid of/read 50 more) Not counting my kindle. I am also WAYYY more picky about the books I buy especially if I’m spending a decent amount of money on it. It needs to be one I’m excited about reading! I donate mine to my library book sale as well as thrift stores and even the more popular really good condition ones I take to my local indie store for store credit and use towards books I’m excited about. I am so happy that I made this change and I do have you to thank for part of that 😀 It’s a good feeling when you free yourself from an overwhelming tbr pile and just books you don’t need and knowing you won’t be able to read them all! I am also applying this to my other hoarding habits (beauty products and clothes!)


  1. […] The Ebb and Flow of My Bookshelves. I hoard books. Like everything else in my life, I’m trying to clean up my bookshelves. Jamie has a pretty good process for what to do with all the bookish buildup. […]

  2. […] Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner goes through her methods to decide if a book she owns and has read stays on her bookshelf or not. […]

  3. […] Since posts have recently appeared about managing your shelves and culling books, for example by Jamie, I thought I could give my tips on how to keep this organized and help in your decision […]

  4. […] The Ebb and Flow of My Bookshelves from The Perpetual Page-Turner […]

  5. […] for many reasons I don’t really want to get into. But I found this post by Jamie over at the Perpetual Page Turner to be quite helpful. Especially those questions she asks herself after reading a […]

  6. […] by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has this awesome post on the ebb and flow of her bookshelves, and I can relate to A LOT of this.Steph at Cuddlebuggery got behind in her reviewing in 2013 and […]

  7. […] by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has this awesome post on the ebb and flow of her bookshelves, and I can relate to A LOT of this.Steph at Cuddlebuggery got behind in her reviewing in 2013 and […]

  8. […] by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has this awesome post on the ebb and flow of her bookshelves, and I can relate to A LOT of this. Steph at Cuddlebuggery got behind in her reviewing in 2013 and […]

  9. […] @ The Perpetual Page-turner discusses culling books from your […]