Book Purge & Organization

I’ve decided to break down my year long home purge by floor and room.  I started in the master bedroom earlier this spring by paring down my wardrobe and weeding out unwanted beauty items, including toiletries and cosmetics as well as nail polish.  The most natural next step was to turn my attention to my book collection, half of which I store in  the master bedroom and the other half in my home office.  That room is next on my purge list and I was able to finish up the master bedroom and kick off the office clean up with this book purge.

book purge spring cleaning 2015

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While I did borrow some inspiration from the KonMari method as I did with my past purge efforts, I decided to leave my books on the shelves as opposed to piling them all onto the floor.  I know I have a lot of books and I’ve never actually done a proper purge of my collection before.  I’m part of the camp that believes you really can’t have too many books.  Reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo inspired me to consider my book collection and how I’ve hung onto most every book I’ve purchased in the last decade.  I realized it was kind of silly to hang onto books I knew I would never read again, so that is what I designated as my criteria for the purge.

I went through each book, shelf by shelf, and pulled the ones I was confident I had no interested in rereading.  This doesn’t mean I didn’t originally like the book, but not all books are read-more-than-once types.  This, of course, is a matter of personal preference.  Fortunately, since I was only going through my personal collection and not my husband’s (which I personally don’t believe is any of my business to go through and purge his things), this process was easy and relatively quick.

bookshelf organization 2015

I cut my book collection down by at least half and was able to move what remained aside from crafting and reference books from my office to my bedroom bookcases.  The reorganization of those shelves took substantially more time than the purge itself, but it was well worth the time spent.  I am extremely happy with both the organization and look of my bedroom bookcases now.  Just like before, I have a mix of fiction and nonfiction books displayed alongside photos and momentos.  I like my shelves to have a bit of visual variety to them and try to avoid cramming them full of books if I have the space.

My preferred method of book organization is by category.  For example, the bookcase on the left (above photo) is completely dedicated to fiction, with the exception of the one shelf towards the middle that holds books I haven’t read yet.  I’ve organized by top to bottom from old classics to new classics and book series.  The bookcase on the right includes nonfiction works on the top shelves, separated by emotional well-being, physical health and nutrition, and autobiographies.  The bottom two shelves are dedicated to favorite books from my youth.  Keep in mind that these categories are distinguished by me and not the literary powers that be so that they make the most sense in my collection’s organization.

book purge spring cleaning 2015

I also went through and purged our cookbook collection, which I consulted Don on since he is the main cook in our family at the moment.  We were able to weed out the ones we never reference and keep only the most useful cookbooks and manuals to us.  The top shelf is dedicated solely to cookbooks while the bottom shelf is where we store baking-specific books, general food prep manuals, and entertaining guides.  It is neat, uncluttered, and easy to access our most reached for cookbooks now.

I also decided to consider my magazine subscriptions as part of my book collection.  I currently pay for four subscriptions, including Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Self, and People.  Somehow I also receive Oprah and Allure for free.  As much as I love magazines, I honestly haven’t picked one up in way too long to justify keeping these subscriptions, so I’ve decided to cancel them all.  In the event that I want a magazine, I’ll simply go out and buy it.  That makes much for sense to me than wasting paper and money receiving a constant supply in the mail that I never seem to get to.

book donations 2015

When all was said done, I filled up fourteen grocery bags with books to donate.  I’m looking for a good place to donate the lot.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

If you’d like to see more about my book purge process, including before shots of both my bedroom and office bookshelves as well as my process and final results, check out this video:

I’m very happy with how this purge and reorganization turned out.  I was able to successfully complete this project over the course of one day and am left with books I truly love and want to read again.  I’d love to know if you decide to attack your book collection.  Feel free to share your process if you like!
Happy spring cleaning!

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49 comments

49 thoughts on “Book Purge & Organization”

  1. Hey Jen,

    Love your purging series!
    Have your interest in purging rubbed of onto Don, so that he has started purging clothes and books himself?

    With Love

    Lea, from Copenhagen, Denmark.

    1. No, Don hasn’t been inspired to purge any of his things, but then again he’s been pretty preoccupied with his back issues. We’re focusing on getting him better. That’s the priority!

  2. find a school that could use the books. Or woman’s shelter. Maybe a children’s orphanage. You really are amazing thank you for everything that you do.

  3. I like donating my media to the library. They can either add them to their collection or sell them to raise money.

  4. My public library accepts books to sell for fund-raising (all throughout the year) and has a kiosk for magazines to donate and take as wanted. Some public libraries do not accept book donations though (my main Central Library does not). Worth a try.

  5. What an inspiration you are. I am exhausted just watching your videos. You have been on the move with the purging. I am getting so motivated by you to start with my rooms. Please continue to show your purge and cleaning videos. Really enjoying the process. Keep up the great work Jen. In my area, Goodwill has a separate store for only books. You may want to check that or check your local library for book donation. Every area is different, but just a thought. Take care.

  6. Will your local library take them? Our library has a “Friends of the Library” group who go through the books and then hold a book sale twice a year. The funds they make on the sale help the library buy new books, etc.

  7. good job on your book purge! I loved how you used that basket to charge your laptop and tablet. What a great idea.

  8. I live in Chicago (and I know you are from the area), the only book donation place I know of specifically is Open Books. They sell the donated books to fund their programming http://www.open-books.org/give/donate-books/ I have never donated with them but a couple of friends of mine have in the past. Otherwise a local women’s or transitional living center might be interested in your books for their residents.

  9. I just took a load of books to our Public Library for donation and they were very happy to get them. Might be something you could do with your books. I find books very hard to part with so I was glad to donate to the Library.

  10. You could always donate to a goodwill or maybe a school? Maybe do giveaways on them for people interested. You have a lot of books!

  11. Think about donating some of your books, at least, to the local VA hospital. They have lots of long-term patients that would appreciate them.

  12. Thanks! It looks awesome. I have way too many books and they get heavy too heavy to keep them all. I keep too many recipes. How do you deal with paper? I can’t seem to part with them. Trying but not fast enough. Love your photos.

    1. Paper is on my list this month! I’m hoping to get ride of most of it and just scan what’s important.

      1. Have you heard of littlefreelibrary.org ? We have quite a few in Minnesota, in neighborhoods and Ijust saw one at the gas station. “Take a book, return a book” It’s an awesome idea.

  13. wow thats a lot of books, i wish i could afford to buy books like that 🙂 there is a charity that donates books to children who can’t afford them, i know our town isn’t very forgiving when it comes to that because our kids don’t get much in terms of books ( i volunteer for the middle school/ high school that helps bring books in ) but i love charities like that.

    1. I also meant to say that I don’t read magazines anymore either. I just don’t have the time to sit and page through them.

  14. Hi Jen, I like how your book shelves turned out. I really like the cookbook area. I just wanted to say that color or blouse you have on looks so pretty with your beautiful skin.

  15. When I purge books and magazines I give them to my local library. They have book sales with the proceeds going back to the library. Most places like Goodwill will take books. Not sure about magazines. Women’s shelters might need books and magazines.

    Remember to take all identifying information off the magazines.

  16. Jennifer, I was so excited to see you kept your Emily Giffin series. She definitely is an author to revisit in years to come. I took your suggestion to read Liane Moriarty’s “The Husband’s Secret” and so enjoyed it. It is making the rounds of my Cross Stitch Club. It was so thought provoking. I am now reading “The Hypnotists Love Story” also by Moriarty. Your purge series is wonderful. I also hope we will see everyday Vlogs as well. They are my favorite! Wishing all the mother’s in your life a very special day!
    ..

  17. In San Diego the United Way often has a book drive — sometimes a children’s book drive but you may try them none the less. You may also try women’s shelters. Lastly you might contact a local hospital or detention center. Congrats on your efforts.

  18. Hello Jen,

    I work in a nursing facility by evanston, illinois in rogers park and it’s so hard for me to find books for them and they love to read we have a shelf in our dayroom that has hardly any books. We walk pretty far to the library so they can rent the books they want. We would greatly appericatie it.

    Krystal

  19. I think the whole purge idea is much easier if you have a good library you can access! Then the question is- can I get this at the library? When the answer is yes – out it goes! By the way, I’m not sure, you may have to google it, but I think they are still rebuilding the libraries of Louisiana that were devastated by Katrina. I know it has been a long time, but you might want to look into that . . .

  20. I really enjoyed to watch your wonderful “Book organization”,great tips you re giving us..and lovely way to do the things well.
    Thank you for sharing.

  21. Could you come to my house and help me organize? Toronto is a shirt flight from you. I’m being totally serious, not creepy! I need your help!

  22. Donate them to a low income school district library in your area. I know our school libraries are always struggling to find the resources they need and never turn away donations of this kind.

  23. Hey Jen,

    I really enjoy your blog entries. I discovered your blog when I was searching for people who applied the KonMari method and posted videos about their experiences on YouTube. It’s been so liberating to apply Marie Kondo’s method on my own stuff.

    Since so many of your books are great for teenagers (I enjoy YA too), I think students would benefit greatly from your book donations. I did a quick search for you and found the following organizations in the Chicagoland area that collect books for students who don’t have easy access to libraries/personal book collections:

    http://berniesbookbank.org/donate-books/

    http://www.books4cause.com/books-for-schools/

    http://www.helpcps.org/freethingsinfo/

    Best wishes! I’m so happy to see your enthusiasm for donating. It’s so encouraging.

    Cheers,
    Christina

  24. Hi I loved seeing your purg series I recently have been thinking of getting rid of some of my books since I manly read on my nook now. So far I’m having a hard time getting rid of them have you ever read broken silence I found it to be a really good book. And definetly intriguing and moving

  25. I am a school teacher and I am always needing of books. You have books like shiver linger and forever that my past students have loved. I want the kids the love reading as much as I do and you have some awesome books that you can donate to my library.

    I also am starting a book club for young adult and adults in my community and donate books are always a plus.

    Just a thought!! 🙂

  26. Hi, i actually just found out your book review channel and more recently and i really enjoyed it. i am an english literature college student from my country and you can say that english book is a little bit hard to get in here, which is very sad because we really need it for our study. it would be nice if you help us by giving some of yours. Thanks ^0^

  27. I would gladly take every single book that you don’t want to keep. I love books and I want any book I see regardless of if I can read it or not. I may be a bit addicted.

  28. This is a really good idea! I also need to do a book purge because I have too many books that I will never read again. When I was doing the annual spring clean I tossed and donated many clothes and books but still the bookshelves need to be cleaned out! Thank you for sharing! You really had a huge collection!

  29. Ohh the Irony!! I was thinking about decluttering lately… Especially since I am working with such amount of space. Then I found this post and now I ordered The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m one step closer to figuring out this tidying up thing… I grew up with a bunch of pack rats!

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