Culling Books & Curating Your Library

I used to be someone who held on to every single book I had from childhood until adulthood, regardless if I loved it or hated it. But once I ran out of room at my parents' house and then moved into my one bedroom apartment 8 years ago, it was time to change that philosophy. There's definitely been some missteps and regrets in my culling process (why did I give away my original Baby-Sitters Club books?) and I'm still learning new lessons (recently: don't cull just to make room on your shelves) but overall, I'm very happy with the library I've curated for myself. 

So I thought I'd share my personal tips for how I decide which books are keepers and which go into the donate pile! 

1. Evaluate each book and see if it sparks anything for you: joy (hi KonMari method!), nostalgia, a specific memory, or a desire to re-read one day. 
I definitely rely on my gut instinct and while it might seem cheesy to hold or look at each book to see if it sparks a feeling, I do think it's effective for a first pass at your bookshelves. Like, I'll never not want to re-read How To Love or Throne of Glass. I vividly remember buying Crow Mountain at The Winding Stair in Dublin and The Sun Also Rises at Shakespeare & Company in Paris (even though I don't necessarily love either book). I still remember how much I cried when I first read The Fault in Our Stars and that nostalgia is what makes me hold onto it. Books like Anne of Green Gables, The Harper Hall Trilogy, A Wrinkle in Time, and A Time for Dancing shaped the reader I am today and I want to own those forever. The list goes on and on! 

2. When you cull, don't immediately donate right that second. Store your "cull pile" somewhere out of sight for a period time (I use my car trunk) and then re-evaluate a month or two later. 
This is something I did because I would get lazy to drive all my books to the Better Books bin in the town over. Plus if the bin is full, you have to wait until it's emptied to donate. But it ended up being a happy accident for me! Because when I recently realized I was culling just to make room, this gave me a chance to "save" certain books and add them back to my shelves. 

3. The struggle for storage space is real! Consider storing books elsewhere if you don't have room (at the moment) so you don't have any regrets later. 
I feel very fortunate to live so close to my childhood home. My bedroom there is technically still "mine" even though it's turned into half-storage for me and half-storage for my dad. But when I was running out of space here at my apartment, I ended up storing books there temporarily until I could figure something out. 

4. Re-read books to see if they still held up for you.
Sometimes tip #1 fails and you just don't know. At the beginning of 2021, I started to do a re-read project (which I'll write about at the end of the year) but basically I made a list of 12 books/series and decided I'd read one per month to determine if I still loved them enough to own. It's been a ton of fun!  

5. Utilize the library, e-book deals or ARCs (if you're a book reviewer) to read the book first before buying a physical copy. 
Clearly I love books but it gets expensive! Especially now that I'm reading a lot more adult books, it's painful forking over close to $30 for a book I'm not sure I'll like or keep. Granted, sometimes I'll just pull the trigger and take my chances, but I will often borrow e-books from the library, rely on Kindle deals, and the opportunities I get as a book blogger to read the book first and then decide if I loved it enough to want a copy on my shelves. 


I hoped you enjoyed my tips!
Tell me, what's your approach for culling books?

1 comment

  1. This is a really helpful guide! I've been wanting to do another day of culling my shelves- now all I need is a day at home to do it!


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