Decluttering: Books, Part II

Guest post by Jennifer Ries. If you missed it, please read Part I here


In Part I we discussed how to decide what stays and goes when decluttering your personal library.

Now, we’ll talk about doing right by your beloved books.

Give your books new life

            Books in good condition can live new and useful lives — under someone else’s roof. For a quick fix, box them up with other donation items. Put the box in your vehicle immediately to thwart second looks and second-guessing.
            Call your local library to ask if they take donations for their annual book sale. Some libraries accept books seasonally (to avoid storage issues); others accept donations year-round. Let your purge fund literacy programs in your own community.
            There are also a variety of non-profit secular and faith-based agencies that seek book donations to support literacy programs, schools, adult education, and disaster recovery at home and abroad. Ask at your church, do a quick online search, or ask your librarian for recommendations.
            Regift books to friends and family for holidays or just because. One of the great things about books is that they don’t have to be new to be enjoyed.
            You can also resell you books via online retailers, used book dealers, and garage sales. IMO the low monetary value of most used books does not justify the hassle and storage. Donate ’em and be done with it.

Good stewardship

            You’ve done an admirable job of down-sizing your library — good for you! Now plan for continued success.
            When you reshelf your books, flip the spines upside-down. When you read a book, return it to its home in the upright position. In six months or a year (whatever’s appropriate for your reading habits), any remaining upside-down books have earned a one-way ticket to the donation box.
            If you must purchase a book, please browse second-hand stores or your local used bookseller (yes, a few still exist), or try out These options are affordable, green, and, depending on the seller, may support the local economy or larger social efforts.
Practice the “one in, one out” rule to manage the population.
            If you use a smart phone or tablet, consider switching to e-books. Not only do e-books occupy no shelf space and consume no pulp, but new releases tend to be cheaper than their printed sisters. Most e-reader platforms make e-books fully searchable, and often have built-in reference components, like touch-for-word-definition and pop-up footnotes, that can enhance your reading experience.
Jennifer Ries is a journalist, editor, and occasional poet who has been working toward a life with less since 2007. She lives in south-central Montana with a cat, a coffee maker, and a slowly shrinking pile of books.

A note from Rachel again: Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

Leave a comment for Jennifer here and let her know how this has encouraged you!

Fore more decluttering inspiration, click here.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Anonymous on 01/31/2013 at 3:46 am

    Do you know of any websites to sell school books and other texts??

  2. Anonymous on 02/19/2013 at 11:38 pm and are both great places to sell books!

  3. Elizabeth on 05/18/2014 at 2:26 pm

    Because I am also an English major, I felt I had to own [and read] the extensive canon of literature. And, like you, my book collection seemed to be tied to my identity. I bought books I was going to read or that I felt I was expected to have read. But as a budding minimalist, which coincided with living debt-free, I began to see and think differently and so I made the decision to rid myself of my entire book collection, except for those dear to me, like my Bible. It was a liberating experience. Still, because I had held on to certain books [college texts] for too long, many of them had lost their value and were no longer profitable on websites, such as or Amazon, so I donated them to charities, instead. Now, any book I really need to read, I buy it [I like to touch books] and sell it immediately after reading it. The result is that my life is so much better off without all of the clutter of dusty books. Thank you for sharing; it makes me feel not so alone in my thinking.

  4. Jennifer Jefferson on 07/21/2014 at 2:27 pm

    This looks like a fun way to get rid of books. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to.

  5. Diana on 01/11/2016 at 4:12 pm

    I think I missed the most important thing that has helped me get rid of a whole bunch of books — the library! Books are really important in my life, and I believe a home without some books is sadly lacking. However, I am also rather cash poor, and was overwhelmed by the number of books I had so the one decision I made a few years ago is that I would not buy new books, but would borrow books from the library instead. There have exceptions to the “don’t buy” rule, but overall this has saved me a lot of money, and has bought me some peace of mind.
    A bonus, in my part of the world, at least, is that I can put a hold on a book that is not yet available for purchase. Which means that it might be available for me to read before I’ve even seen it in a bookstore. I don’t think the libraries get the books “first” — but at least I don’t have to try to figure out when it is going to be released, and won’t have to fork out hard-cover book costs. (And yes, there are some books that I am anxiously awaiting…)
    The one thing I haven’t figured out yet is what to do with school yearbooks/annuals. I’m not as good at dealing with these — in part because I don’t want my personal history out in the world, and in part because I hate recycling things that are still useable. What have others done with books of this nature? Help?

    • Rachel on 01/12/2016 at 7:33 pm

      Often times you can contact the school and they can put your in touch with school historians who want copies, or people who lost theirs in floods, house fires, etc. but enjoyed keeping them.

      • Diana on 03/06/2018 at 7:23 pm

        thanks Rachel!
        I’m just seeing your reply now. I like this idea.

  6. Blair A on 08/11/2016 at 12:54 am

    I am a long term clutterbug. Right now I am working on my books. I love books. After reading this I started to panic…I so want to become uncluttered, but My Books???? So I came up with a solution. I’m going to add storage on my tablet. Then I plan to write down all my many books, titles etc. That way I will have a list of books I won’t forget I want to read. I never have been able to get rid of books, but thanks to you, I’m gonna try. Thanks so much

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