1. Ditch books you haven’t read yet
Some of the books you’ve gotten over the years you’ve probably read and enjoyed, but others are still sitting there on your shelf haunting you. You glance at them when looking for something to read, thinking, I really should read that book. And yet you never do.
Free yourself of the guilt and set it aside to donate or delete it off your device. Get spiritual about it: If you were meant to read that book, it’ll probably come back in your life at some point when you’re ready for it.
2. Take a page from Marie Kondo: Does this book spark joy?
Whether you have purchases you made years ago or newly acquired books, take a look at each book on your bookshelves or saved lists and ask yourself: Am I excited to read this book? Glance at the cover, the book’s description and accolades, and maybe even the first page or two and honestly gauge your enthusiasm for that particular read.
Remember that just because your sister, best friend, boss, or favorite celebrity loved the book, this doesn’t mean you need to read it. Try to remove any societal or personal pressure from the equation. Don’t overthink it; usually your first instinct is the right one. If it’s not a definite yes, it can probably go.
3. Give books to people and places you love
If you’re struggling to part with your books, consider donating books to places where they’ll be read and appreciated. Your local library may take donations for used book sales to help support their programming. Find a Little Free Library near you and swap one (or more) of your books for a novel you’ve been dying to read. Bring a few paperbacks to a sick friend or relative in the hospital, or ask around on social media if anyone knows a person in need. Prisons often need books, too.
If you want to make some pocket change (perhaps to buy more books), hit up your local indie bookstore or Half-Price Books to see if you can exchange your books for money.
4. Use a book subscription service
A great way to streamline your shelves is to use a subscription service like Scribd instead of keeping (or buying) boatloads of books. Scribd allows you to read millions of ebooks and listen to audiobooks from a range of authors and genres, including new releases, award-winning audiobooks, fantasy retellings, short time-management books, and much more.
Just think — with a reading subscription, you won’t have to lift heavy boxes of books when you move to a new house and editing your saved lists is a whole lot easier.
5. If all else fails, reorganize your bookshelves
So you’ve already donated your old books or those you’re not excited to read. And you have a book subscription service. Now it’s time to make sure it’s organized into different genres or categories so you can easily find something to read.
The bottom line
We’ll be the first to admit that it can be hard to pare down books, especially if you’re a voracious reader and enthusiastic book lover. Prioritizing books you’re truly excited about and letting go of those you’re not will help you browse titles more easily so you’ll always have a top pick at your fingertips.
For more inspiring reading recommendations on cleaning and decluttering, check out the The Best Books to Help You Finally Organize Your Life list from our Scribd editors.