By the book: A step-by-step guide to decluttering your book collection

Could it be time to cull your book collection?

Could it be time to cull your book collection? - Credit: Getty Images

Whether you’ve stopped buying paper books or can’t stop buying them, you’ll probably have some overflowing shelves somewhere in your home. What should you do if your collection’s taking up too much space?

Tracy Ross

Tracy Ross - Credit: Archant

Local lifestyle management expert Tracy Ross, from Blissfully Organised, explains how to declutter your book collection.

Why do we hold a special attachment to our books?

The books that we own form part of our life story. As well as looking attractive on a shelf, our book collection is personal to us and represents many things about our personality, such as our intellect, interests, culture and travel experience. Decluttering a book collection involves breaking our sentimental attachment. There’s a cost factor, too, with rare editions seen as a significant investment.

One book at a time...

One book at a time... - Credit: Getty Images

Why do we need to declutter our book collections?

Whether you buy several books to binge read on holidays or are an avid collector who spends hours perusing the shelves of second hand book shops, it’s very easy to build up a sizeable collection of books at home. If you do not regularly review the books you own, you may find that your home is overrun.

Books are heavy items to move when stored in a loft or garage and can take up valuable space.

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A regular book audit will help you to:

* Create a collection of books that are truly important to you

* Order and store your books so that you can easily reference the ones that you have and avoid purchasing duplicates

* Avoid taking up valuable storage space in your home to store books that you no longer have space to display

* Donate your unwanted books to a library or charity shop to ensure that they keep being read

* Reduce the time spent cleaning busy book shelves

If your home is overrun with books, it’s time to consolidate your collection.

Where do I start?

* Collate all books in your home into one space, then:

* Arrange non-fiction books by topic: this will make it much easier to see which topics have accumulated the most books

* Sort out any duplicates: my clients are often surprised by how many duplicates they have accumulated

* Purge out of date books such as guide books, old travel books and school or university books

* Review any books that you have been gifted or inherited from a loved one. Be honest about whether you are going to read them

* Get ruthless with the books you have yet to read and schedule six months to read them. If you haven’t read them during this period, donate to a friend, charity shop or library

* Identify areas in your home for book storage. You may want to have one space in the living room or home office to store all your books or you may opt for several smaller spaces in a hallway or child’s bedroom

* Create a compact shelf of books that you can never get rid of

* For fiction books, ask yourself if you will ever re-read or reference this book again. If not, donate to a friend, library or charity shop

* For self-development books that have been purchased to support you with specific goals (self-help, business support, diet, health, exercise, etc), assess if you still need to reference the books and only keep the ones that inspired you the most.

If you are overwhelmed with books and don’t know where to start I would be very happy to support you to create a manageable book collection Blissfully Organised offer a confidential, bespoke service to help clients regain order at home or in their workspace.

To find out more about Tracy and the services she provides, visit