Hope for Bookworms

Are You Ready for the One-Bookshelf Challenge?

Dear Juli,

What do I do with all my books? They are everywhere. I love to read, but cannot possibly hold onto all the books I now have. I really don’t like to get rid of my books. What do you suggest for this problem? – Bookworm

Dear Bookworm,

Books are held onto for so many reasons. Some represent what we have read and learned. Some are for reference should we wish to go back to something we have learned. Others are kept because we haven’t read them yet and want to do so in the future. Some simply are for décor, to add something to the bookcase and to place on coffee tables. There is nothing wrong with having books in your home, but when you have more than you can store, then an assessment needs to be made.

Juli Shulem

Most often it has been years since a person has really taken a good look at what they have on their shelves. If you begin by taking stock of what has collected around your home or office you might be surprised to find a lot more that you can part with than you expected. Check the garage, under couches, in cabinets, spare bedrooms, and of course, your bookcases.

Be realistic about how often you have gone back to reread a book. Most people I have worked with admit that they don’t go back to the majority of their books, ever, so holding onto them is serving no purpose. With all the books there are in the world to read, I personally don’t reread much, or I wouldn’t have time to read all that I want to.

You will probably find that you can let go of a good percentage of your books. Take them to the public library if they are in good condition. Planned Parenthood has a book sale annually; find out when they are collecting.

If you have a really large number of books in good condition and time on your hands, then you may want to either sell them or give them away to friends. I just suggested to one client that she have a party for all her friends and let them take books home that they would enjoy. Often our friends like many of the same things we do, so they might like a book from our library that they would have purchased themselves. Be sure to have them “pay it forward” and give it away when they are done, though. Don’t ask for the book back, or you haven’t solved your book collection problem.

I needed to clear several bookshelves of books in my home, so I became ruthless and got rid of everything I had already read in addition to books I didn’t see myself ever really reading. I only kept a selection of books by specific authors, books I truly want to read, and business-related books that I often reference. Otherwise out they went – and continue to go! Now I am reading the books that I saved, and then I donate them when I’m finished. My goal is to get my personal books down to one bookshelf, and anything new I want I get as an eBook, which takes up a lot less room and is more accommodating for someone who likes to read a few different books concurrently.

Afraid you will forget what you have read? Simple solution: As you pack a book into a box to remove from your home, write down the title and author. Just make a list of books you have read, and you can add to it as you go. You can make a similar list of books you want to read in the future, when something is recommended to you or you read a good review. Keeping a book around to remind yourself of what you have read is like keeping food boxes and packaging around to remember what you ate.

Happy reading!

If you have a question you wish answered, email Juli Shulem at with “Question for column” in the subject line and it will be answered it as soon as possible. No question too small or insignificant. Your name is not used. What would YOU like to know?

If you have a question you wish answered, email Juli Shulem at with “Question for column” in the subject line and it will be answered it as soon as possible. No question to small or insignificant. Your name is not used. What would YOU like to know?

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