“It’s not hoarding if it’s books.”
This phrase jumped out at me on Pinterest, plastered across an image of a beautiful home library, with floor to ceiling shelves full of colorful books. It was enough to make me swoon and repin it, which says a lot about my feelings on this topic. I tend to agree with the statement above just a little, especially if the books in question are actually opened, read, cared for, and well-organized.
However, my own book collection was starting to feel a little out of control. I had books that were all but forgotten, because of the piles and lack of organization. Plus, I was dreading the task of clearing out our homeschool and craft storage room, and the boxes of random homeschool books were a large part of the problem.
If your book collection is growing a little out of control, I want to help you find solutions! In this post, I’m going to share my method for decluttering and organizing your books quickly and completely.
But first, if you are new to this series or the packing party idea, you may want to go back to the first post. We are using a packing party to declutter quickly, with a few modifications for our family of five. Read more here:
Decluttering the Books
I decided to tackle the books all at once in a blend of Konmari-style tidying and a minimalist Packing Party, and it only took my husband and me a few hours to get through ALL of them.
Here are the basic steps we followed:
- Bring ALL the books into one room, and group them generally by category. (Adult books, kids books, homeschool books, cook books, reference books, etc.)
- Next, tackle one category at a time and further sort by topic. For example, in the adult category, we made a stack of fiction, Bibles and Bible reference, books on friendship, books on marriage, books on business success, etc.
- If you have a homeschool category, you can choose to sort by topic and then by age or year, depending on your curriculum. After sorting all thehomeschool books by subject, I further sorted them by “cycle,” which lines up with the curriculum for Classical Conversations. So I ended up with cycle one history, cycle two history, cycle three history, cycle one science, and so on … (you could choose to sort by grade instead: first grade math, second grade math, etc.)
- Now take a glance around at the piles you have made, and ask yourself a few questions.
- Are there subjects or topics you can eliminate completely? I chose to get rid of my (outdated) therapy and ministry textbooks from college, because I no longer use them. If I do further pursue those topics, I will be going back to school for my Masters and getting newer textbooks!
- Are there piles that have MORE books in them than you need? Consider whether you need 12 books on Elementary Biology or 5000 activities to do with your 3-year-old. It is safe to say you could probably get rid of some of those.
- Do your piles reflect your priorities and goals? If you have large stacks of books for topics that are not important to you or your family, it may be time to let go, or at least reduce. However, you may end up keeping a few larger piles, if they are a big focus or priority in your life right now!
- Could you get these books from the library? If it’s something you refer to often, this may not apply. For fiction or occasional reads (and maybe even whole categories), it might be easier to let it go for now, and check out from the library if you ever decide to read again.
- Could someone else benefit from this more than you? If you’ve already read it and gotten what you need from it, maybe it’s time to pass it on to a friend or donate.
- Remember, if you are not sure you need it, just pack it away for now. That’s the beauty of the packing party. If you decide you really need or miss some of those books a couple weeks from now, you are allowed to pull them back out.
- When you are done going through the piles, take a minute to organize what’s left. You could even go so far as to put color-coded stickers by topics on the spines (this is especially helpful for homeschool books)! What other time will it be SO easy to do this? At least place them back on the shelves by topic, and admire your work. I know my books are much more likely to get read and used now that they are all sorted out, and it is easy to find exactly what I’m looking for.
All of our adult and family books now fit on the shelves in the living room and ladder bookshelf on the wall, and are not spilling over into our room (and our dressers)! There are no more piles or boxes of books stashed in the basement. Not only that, but we have an EMPTY shelf in our living room bookshelf!
The kids books are minimized, and easily fit in a small crate in their room. We also have a box of kids’ books on our “toy library” shelves downstairs, so they can be rotated occasionally.
All of the homeschool books and materials we are using this year fit neatly in two baskets under our living room chairs, plus a few in our “morning box,” which fits in the other cabinet! (We also have a small bookshelf for homeschool books we are not using downstairs, and they are divided by books we will use in the other two “cycles” of Classical Conversations, “early childhood” books for our youngest, and books they will all use when they are a bit older).
I am so pleased with the results, and I love that we can find exactly what we need, so all our books will be read and used!
I hope you’ll give this method a try. Bringing all the books into one room and going through them by topic really helped to pare them down quickly and effectively!
P.S. Let me know how this method works for you, and how your packing parties are going! I can’t wait until the next couple of weeks when we finish up and start to get rid of ALL THIS STUFF. 🙂