How To Curb Your Book Addiction

Hello out there- 
A few days ago, this lovely letter landed in my inbox from my friend Carolyn Pinkerton.  In January, I wrote her to ask for help in reining in my book collection.  She's a doctor, so you should probably listen to what she says.  

I'll begin by sharing steps 1-3, which focus on assessing your book collection and embarking on the weeding-out process.  (Not easy at all, if you are committed to holding onto every single book that has ever come across your doorstep!).  Then stay tuned for steps 4-5, where we will discuss organizing your books.   

Dear Full-Time Stay at Home Mom Who Does a Little Other Stuff on the Side as Well,

In January, you shared with me the troubling news that your book population had become out of control. It is now February (perhaps I should set a monthly goal of dealing with my procrastination), but I’m betting your book situation is about the same. Never fear, dear friend, you can do this!

Before jumping into action, take a moment to assess and reflect upon your current situation. Step one involves you asking yourself these types of questions: Why does your book collection feel unruly? Is there not enough space for them all? Not that we’re trying to point fingers here, but are the books mainly Chicken’s and Monkey’s? Yours and/or the hubs? Are you regularly buying books, getting them as gifts, borrowing them from others? What types of books do you see when you look around?

Now that you’ve pondered long and hard on these questions, you can start step two, getting rid of books. This is not for the faint of heart, but as you spent January getting rid of things, you are a seasoned pro. Think of your criteria for determining which books stay and which ones get the boot. Perhaps you only want to keep books that you would reread, have deep sentimental value, are rare, or are used for reference materials. When weeding through possessions, I like to repeat the phrase “get real with yourself.” Yes, that cookbook might contain lots of pretty pictures, but if I’ve only made one recipe from there in the last two years which wasn’t even really that good, it’s time to get real with myself and let it go.

So now you have a big pile of books ready to exit your home. Step three is deciding just how you’re going to get them out the door. One possibility is to set popular and recent paperbacks to the side and become a part of the paperbackswap.com gang; this is a good website if you’re flexible with what you’re reading (not the best for trying to find a copy of your book club’s pick) and if you’re willing to buy the materials to package books and ship them out for the swap. Another option is to sell your books. During my most recent book sweep, I made about $200 selling books on Amazon, but it was a time consuming process. If there are cookbooks in the “gots to go” pile, consider selling them to The Seasonal Cook. They’ll pay you for your used cookbooks or give you a bigger sum if you take a store credit. The rest of the books can be donated to groups such as libraries, schools, and the Goodwill.

(To Be Continued...)

So we're off to a good start, aren't we?  Who's ready to purge some books?  Anyone else out there have a hard time getting rid of books? 
*image courtesy of hgtv.  you didn't think that was MY lovely home, did you?  please. 


  1. Thanks Katherine and Carolyn for this! I have been pondering the same problem! So many books, many of them academic, most of them I'm not ready to part with, but I'm feeling the need to purge... I'll try this strategy!

  2. I love the "get real with yourself" idea. I am going to use this, and for more than just books! I need to look at my clothes, for instance, and say "get real with yourself, are you really going to wear this jean skirt that you have had since high school?" This is going to help me weed out a lot of stuff! Thanks!

  3. i think it's the "classics" that get us around here. you'll have to wrestle them out of our cold, dead hands before we'll part with them. and by "we" i mean the hubs. because i would ditch that ragged dickens paperback in a heartbeat.

    there i said it.

  4. It's so true. It's hard for me to get rid of books that I feel like I'm *supposed* to have!

  5. This is having the opposite effect on me MK. I just want to look through all of your purged books to add to my mountains of unread novels. :)


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