My Bookish Life: Tidying Up – book declutter

my bookish life

If you have been reading my blog since autumn, you will already know I have been on a decluttering journey. I returned to Canada after living abroad with the knowledge of needing to sort through my belongings (we’re talking twenty-five years worth of stuff). I have been reading a number of tidying books and watching decluttering shows, trying out various aspects of their advice. For me the KonMari method has been working the best, though I had to make small alterations to best suit my needs. The most obvious of this was saving the decluttering of my books until the very end.

Day 1: This was a complete disaster as I started with books that fill me with nostalgia and I ended up quitting after three shelves. Despite this, most of my YA/NA shelf is reorganized and down to just what I will keep… with the exception of my BSC and SVH books. These I may deal with after I get through the rest of my novels, as I have a feeling I will find these difficult to part with because I would love to pass them to a daughter someday… or maybe I’ll just completely skip them.

After a break I went back again to try another shelf unit and some boxes. My historical and fantasy bookcase has now also been culled, but I do not like how what remains is currently organized. It does not have a lot of room for new books, completely filling the shelves in double rows with some stacks happening, so I may have to pull a few more. I will possibly reorganize what genres go where on my shelves once I have completed the decluttering to see if I can make some space.

Between these two bookshelves and some overflow boxes I managed to cull a couple boxes worth, but also had three boxes of books I wanted to read/re-read before deciding what to do with them. This frustrates me as it makes me feel like I am getting no where.

Day 2: I was getting mad at the TBR boxes being in my way, so I decided to turn my “favourites shelf” into a TBR bookcase instead. Because this shelf unit is far more decorated than those in the basement, my faves only took up one box –which is now located in front of my Day 1 shelves. While my TBRs take up more space on the bookshelf, there is still a little room for my funko pops and candles.  As I finish the novels on the TBR shelf –along with all new novels that will get purchased over the course of this year– I will be deciding if I wish to keep or donate them so I will (hopefully) never have to do another massive cull like this.

I also did a quick sort and toss of my “school” shelf that holds texts I had to read for my university classes, as well as my  classics and some other fiction books I accrued while a student. Given that I had already sorted out and sold a fair few of the more uninteresting of my uni books back to the school after graduation, that was a simple process.

I still have four bookcases and three boxes to organize into my three categories of keep, maybe reads, and discard, but I am feeling like I am making good progress now.

Day 3 and 4: I decided to get out of the cold cramped basement and just haul a bunch of novels up to the living room each day. I organized these on the floor by genre, by series, and by author. This was important to do as I knew there could be a few multiple copies of some books and I wanted to ensure to pull those. A lot of these books were given to me by my Gramma and Nana from their monthly subscriptions while I was away the past five years and I have not read half of them. This does mean that particular section of shelving is basically another TBR area, but I ensured to only keep books I thought I might actually read and popped any that didn’t interest me into a box for donation. I finished off the two days by reading a book from my TBR shelf and have now added it to the cull pile.

Day 5: I noticed over the past two days I was getting more and more able to let books go. Particularly towards the end of the day where if I did not immediately want to read a book then it got tossed because I just wanted to be done. I began asking myself two questions: “Will I want to read this again?” and if the answer is maybe I then ask “Will I even notice if this book is gone?” Half of the time I’m all nope, but sometimes I would add a book to the TBR.

After all this, I I decided to go through the TBR shelf in my room again. I thought there could be more books on there I’d be willing to free from my life. I did not manage to discard as many as I had assumed, but another dozen or so have now left my life.

As I finished a little earlier today than per usual, it seemed like a good time to adjust how my shelves are organized, particularly my historical and fantasy shelf. The very bottom row was general romances, but with some creative organizing of another shelf I was able to move those. I was also able to get a third of my favourites books onto this other bookcase as well, which I’m particularly happy about.

Day 6: I am happy to say that I have now finished culling my bookshelves! Well, except doing another pass at my SVH/BSC shelf, because after five days I am a little tired of decluttering and my brain now hurts. I honestly doubt I’ll be able to pull anything from that shelf any time soon, so I’m not going to stress about it.

I did not actually have to deal with the process of decluttering any books today, as I finished that the day prior. Today was solely for making adjustments to placement on shelves, and adding decor bits. I usually have framed photos, beanie babies, McD toys, crochet animaguri, and so forth  placed in any free space. I did have to cut back on some of my pictures, but I need to get new photos made anyways. In the end, I have to say I am quite pleased with how they now look and I have no more boxes (unless you count my favourite books which are being held hostage until I can clear off my bedroom bookshelf of TBRs).

My shelves are now organized as thus:
1.) Juvenile, Young Adult, and New Adult
2.) Historical and SciFi/Fantasy
3.) Inspirational and Thriller/Mystery
4.) Holiday themed, Westerns, Medical Romances
5.) Contemporary Romance and Favourites
6.) Miscellaneous, Classics, Plays, Poetry, Non-Fiction
7.) TBRs

Conclusion: I have decided that I should probably do a biannual cull to go through a few sections of my books again, just to see if there is anything I will never get around to reading. Like “I haven’t read this in the past six months, will I read it within the next six months?” and if not, it should go.

I have done a final count of all the books, those that I am keeping and those that I am donating. I have to admit I was really curious as to the number of books that were in my possession, and couldn’t resist since I had the time. Please note I did round the final number up a little bit as a couple of my friends borrowed books before I went overseas and have yet to return them (I’m looking at you, Marie and Lauren!) so I am not entirely sure exactly how many are elsewhere but guess at no more than ten.

TBR shelf: 170
Keep shelves: 2, 470
Estimated Total: 2, 650
Discard Pile: 915

If you wish to see some before and after shelfies, I will have been posting pictures of them on my instagram “jk.booklover“. The photos are pre-decoration and reorganization, but I figure that is okay.

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Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading, writing, and editing.

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