Decluttering:: Books - The How and Why

The How and Why of Decluttering :: BooksDecluttering Books-the how and why on a journey to a tidy home and sparking joy at

Welcome Life Changers to Week 4 in my decluttering series.  This week join me and the ladies below as we discuss how we are tackling the clutter of books as we try to not only organize our homes but organize our lives.

A Journey to Sparking Joy:

Anderson & Grant ::  Making it in the Mountains  ::  DIY Passion  ::  Dwelling in Happiness  ::  Zevy Joy  :: (Me) Cupcakes & Crinoline  ::  Lost in the Found  ::  The Happy Housie

From as young of an age as I can remember I have loved books.  The feel of them in my hand, touching each page, unlocking the mystery, laughter, comfort and knowledge that each one held within its pages became something I looked forward to experiencing as often as possible.  Books could provide the answer to almost anything I wanted to know.

Both of my parents were avid readers and in our living room there were built in bookshelves filled with books - many that I read, and in my father's man cave there was a huge wall of bookshelves.  At a point after I was grown and my mother passed away my father accumulated even more books until they were stacked knee high on the floor in said man cave....there were books everywhere spilling out from the shelves and tables.  I think, for him, they became a way to occupy his time and provide him with some comfort after loosing my mother in an accident.

Books can be a substitute and can fill a void and we can become, in an eclectic way, attached to them.

So now, let's move on to the How as we dwindle our collection and purge our books.

About 6 months ago I began to purge some of my books.  It was honestly a bit painful but I did it and thought I could move on.  But then, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up*and my perspective changed.  After seeing the success that I had with decluttering my clothing and finally once again having a clean bedroom (going on 3 weeks now and still no lapse in the tidiness) I was convinced to go through the same process with my books.  I started with my massive cookbook collection.  I piled all of the books from my kitchen (hidden in cabinets, on shelves and in drawers) and put them all in a pile on the kitchen floor.  I not only looked at each book but I held each book.  If it did not spark joy, I placed it in to a box to donate to my local thrift store.  Once I finished going through my cookbooks I headed to my family room/craft room.  That is where the majority of my books are most held on a simple bookshelf my father built for me when I first bought my house and then in two tower bookshelves that hold my craft books and school books for my boys.

I once again went through the process of gathering them all together.  Not simply looking at and pulling books off the shelf that I wanted to get rid of but actually holding each and every book and then deciding which to get rid of.  I realized how many of the books I bought I had never read.  If I had not read them, they were probably in all likelihood never going to be read and so I wanted to donate those so they could perhaps provide the knowledge another was looking for.  Many of the books I still loved but knew I would never read again so why let them clutter my home and my life.

Breaking Down the How Process

  1.  Gather all of your books in one place.  I chose to do mine by upper level and lower level of my home for convenience sake.  Simply looking at the books while they are on their shelves will not work.  All have to be gathered and placed in one area together.
  2. Hold each book - try to avoid opening and looking through them as this can be a real time zapper.  If the book does not spark joy, put it in a box or pile to discard.
  3. If you bought the book years ago and have not read it, chances are you never will and it can be donated or discarded.
  4. Avoid the temptation to go back through the books you've decided to remove from your home.  I started to do this and found my donate pile dwindling and this is what originally caused the problem I was now trying to conquer - too many books - so I stopped immediately and returned all of the books back to the donate pile.


Looking at my boxes of books - I had 2 large boxes, a few smaller boxes and a portion of a large laundry basket filled with books, a part of me realized that I had held on to so many of these books because of the money I spent on them.  If I read them then it was money well spent but for all of the books I didn't read I was kicking myself over money wasted and this was part of the reason I hung on to them.  Guilt!  Don't let guilt cause you to hold on to anything...that is a joy stealer and we are on a journey of Sparking Joy.

Let's Breakdown the Why Process

  1. Parting with books you've never read, read and will never read again or books that don't reflect where you currently are in your life can cause a feeling of heaviness and life doesn't need that so free yourself of anything weighing you down including books.
  2. Cluttered Surroundings equal a Cluttered Mind.  If you find that your creativity is suffering take a look around and see if books (or clothes, shoes, accessories, etc.) are the cause and start tidying with passion.  You will be shocked at the joy, freedom, and creativity that are sparked.
  3. Don't avoid addressing the clutter in your home - do it now rather than later and start living a life that is Sparking Joy.

Is there any part of this process that you are undertaking? If you are doing this along with me I would love to hear about!

Decluttering Books-the how and why on a journey to a tidy home and sparking joy at

hugs, mb new logo March 2016

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  1. Jamie | anderson + grant says:

    Beautifully written, Mary Beth. I felt like I was right there beside you as you were going through this process. And I couldn't agree more with your #2 point of cluttered surroundings leading to a cluttered mind. I can't get anything done when I feel as though I'm surrounded by too much stuff.

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Jamie! I have so much more decluttering to do but this process has been a life changer to say the least. I'm so glad to have joined you for this series.