Recently, I whittled my collection of hundreds of books down to 18.
It wasn’t easy.
You see…I love books.
I have purchased and gathered way more than I’d care to admit. Getting rid of them can be quite an emotional task!
It makes sense, in a way. These books change our lives. They change our thoughts. They open our minds to ways of thinking we hadn’t considered previously. It just seems natural that we would have a level of attachment to them.
So, what do we do about it? Should we allow the stacks to grow and the clutter to overtake us? Should we keep everything we read forever? For me, the answer is “no”. You may not be inclined to get rid of any of your books, and that is your choice and an acceptable option. I’m not writing to convince anyone to do anything against their will. I’m writing to help those of us who want to and find it difficult.
I have been clearing them out a little at a time for a couple of years and I had my collection down to about 160 books. Then, a month ago, we initiated The 6×12 Project. This motivated me to get busy. Now I have 18 physical books. Here are some of the things I thought about and strategies I used in the process…
Some things I told myself (that you may need to hear, also):
1- “You are probably not going to read all of those books.”
There were so many books on my shelves that it was impossible for me to ever read them, considering my time constraints.
2- “If you do read them all, you may be reading too much.”
It is possible to read WAY more than you could ever actually process or apply. Or you may end up with your mind in a fantasy world and not living the real life that’s before you.
3- “Most of those books will be outdated when it comes time for your children to read them.”
There are definitely books that will stand the test of time, but many are written for today’s issues using today’s illustrations.
4- “It’s not likely that the internet will go away.”
A few weeks ago, I met a really nice guy who admitted to being a book hoarder. He jokingly said, “If the internet ever goes down, I will single-handedly restore the history of human knowledge to the world.” The days of storing hundreds of books for obscure referencing are no more. We have access to most of the information we’ll need.
Tips for getting rid of your books without being wasteful:
1- Give them to people who will enjoy them now.
If the books are helpful, why let them sit on your shelf and accomplish nothing? Let them do their work in someone else’s heart and mind. I found out that one of my friends liked John Maxwell books. These books helped me tremendously about 8 years ago, so I grabbed the stack and gave them to him. He was PUMPED! The investment I made in them years ago is still paying off for the common good.
I also took several stacks of my other books into my workplace and left them in the break room for people to take. They gobbled them up.
2- Sell them online.
There are a number of websites that do this. Half.com is a great example. You can list your books and set your price. The host site receives a portion of the earnings, and you just mail them out as they are ordered.
3- Trade them in for credit on Amazon.
This is the option I chose. I didn’t earn as much as I could if I sold them, but I had limited time and I didn’t really want to manage the process of selling. Amazon will give you store credit for your books. The amounts are small, but Amazon also pays for the shipping and the credit is added to your Amazon account. I sent in 19 books. Check it out here.
4- Skim read for the content that you’re looking for.
There are some books that you have no intention of reading in their entirety. The topic interested you and you wondered if what you were looking for could be found inside. I grabbed several of the books from that category and just skimmed through them, looking for key points and headings. I got what I needed from them and then sent them out the door.
5- Make a list of the ones you could likely find at a library.
For me, this was necessary, because I had limited space to carry books on our trip. So I had to figure out which books I could likely find at a local library. I snapped pictures of them in Evernote to be checked out at a later date.
Today, I have only the few books that most captivated my interest. Now that I’ve got some success under my belt in this area, it’s likely that I’ll share some of those 18 with others when I finish reading them. I like it that I don’t have stacks of books distracting me and making me feel guilty that I’m not reading them. And, with my library, my Kindle, and the internet, I have plenty to keep me busy.
Will I buy more books? Yes.
Will I keep them all? Not likely.