Every year I put my shelves through a rigorous “spring cleaning” process. Some years I only get rid of a few things, this year I got rid of over 100. It depends on mood, what I have, and what I’ve read that year. Some years, like the last 2 or three, I do this multiple times a year. As a book hoarder, I’ve been trying to get my collection down to a much more manageable level. Finally, I think I have succeeded enough to give you some tips on how to go about Spring Cleaning your shelves.
There are two ways to start. The first is just going through shelf by shelf. This is the method I usually use as it keep the mess down to a minimum. The second is to clear off all your shelves and reshelve from scratch. This not only allows you to cut down your collection but also reorganize it. Both methods have the same basic premise. You look at each book and decide whether it stays or goes. Obvious, I grant you, but I have a list I give myself for each book to help me decide whether it may stay.
- Have I read this book?
- If yes, did I love it/will I read it again? If not, it goes.
- If no, am I going to read it soon? REALLY read it soon? No? See ya.
- Do I still have a desire to read it? No? Bye.
- Has the book been on my shelf for over 2 years without even being considered for reading? Yes?
- Is there a reason for it to say? No? Get out.
- Is the book a part of a series?
- If yes, is it the first book?
- If yes is it a series I’m really excited for? No? Then it probably needs a new home.
- If no, have I read the other books? Yes?
- Then do I really want to continue? No? Then the whole set goes.
- Is the book an ARC or a FC?
- Does it match any other books in that series?
- If not, can I get a matching one? Yes, then the non match can go when I get a replacement.
- If it’s an ARC, when was the pub date if it’s not a future date?
- Did I get it from a trade or from the pub themselves?
- If it’s from the pub, have I read it?
- If no, it immediately gets put on the top of the TBR.
- Is the book signed?
- If yes, is it personalized.
- If yes, is there meaning behind it? Am I attached to it? If no then it probably shouldn’t be here anymore.
- What is the condition of the book? (this one doesn’t usually apply anymore but I’ll put it here anyway)
- Does it smell like smoke, need repair? Yes, Put in a pile for book care. (I have tips and tricks posts on how to take care of most things).
- Does it need to be replaced?
- Honesty time: Will I ACTUALLY ever read this book?
- I’m serious, be honest.
- Is this book going to sit here unread for another 3 years?
This line of questioning is pretty much going to give you the direction you need to cull any excess books that might be lurking in your collection. Believe me, it’s still tough, but it helps. If you need to cut down your own collection, try asking yourself these questions. They’ll be your guide.
And the extras? Donate. Trade with friends. Use #booksfortrade on Twitter. Sell them. Your options are endless.
I hope this has been helpful. As always, if there’s a topic you want to see some tips and tricks for, give me a shout in the comments. And feel free to leave your own questions to ask when spring cleaning.
From my (clean) shelf to yours,