Bookish Spring Cleaning?: Some Tips For Pruning Your Collection

Posted by Kristina Pino

Image via Tumblr

It's that time of the year again – time to de-clutter your life, fix things you've been meaning to fix, clean hard-to-reach areas you're only motivated to wrestle with like twice a year, and maybe even donate that rack of clothes sitting in the back of your closet, unloved and unworn. Ah, Spring Cleaning.

For book lovers, it can also mean it's time to de-clutter the shelves. Do you have piles of books everywhere, stacked precariously in an organized mess? It might be time to shake things up and trim the collection down. Here are some ideas for making your collection more manageable, and maybe even more meaningful. 

And before anyone sends me a snooty comment: I'm not saying you have to prune your collection. If you don't want to, then don't. But maybe consider re-organizing it, building or buying new shelves to replace the piles lying around the house, giving everyone stubbed toes and looming over your small pets, or maybe even putting some of them away in storage somewhere. The general idea is to de-clutter – get some more breathing room! 

Replace a pile with a potted plant. Or a pretty lamp.

Back to our regularly scheduled pruning tips: these three are my go-tos when it's time for me to trim my collection down or make room for new books. Afterwards, take those old books and donate them someplace, give them away to fellow readers on Twitter, or trade them at your local used bookshop. Feel free to share any additional tips of your own in addition to mine.

Be Shallow: Not sure where to even start, and not particularly attached to most of your collection, but more the look of it? I dig – it's valid, it's cool. Just take a look at everything and decide based on how they look on your shelves, and/or which ones you wanna hit up again. Keep the ones that look beautiful and make you feel good about looking at your shelves, as well as the tried-and-true, always good for it reads that you can pick up over and over. Personally, I love the way hardbacks look on my shelf, and I have a much easier time letting go of gently loved mass paperbacks when it's time to prune.

Photo via Master Organizing

Make a Rainbow: Reorganize all of your books by color, and cut according to which sections are much larger than others. Too many books with blue covers compared with the yellows and greens? Overwhelming black or purple section? That's where you can set your sights and narrow down the pool to chuck from. When you're done, you'll have a beautiful rainbow installed in your shelves. A nice, even, satisfying rainbow.

Of course, this idea could backfire drastically. Only a handful of greens to your armfuls of reds? Just buy more greens to fill it in a little! Yeah, I know – this one's a tough call.

Quick Draw: Consider every book in your collection – every single book – one by one. Grab it, stare at it or flip through it for 30 seconds or so (the time limit is important) and judge for yourself whether you remember what it's about, or whether it had any significant impact on you, or if you have any generally fond feelings about it. Can't remember a thing about that book, or feel generally "meh," or "ugh," or "bleh" about it? Toss it in the pruning pile. Keep the books that moved you, or made you laugh, or otherwise had a good effect on you. Fill your shelves with good feelings.