Discussion: When Do You Get Rid of Books?

For those of you who’ve been following my journey through undergrad, grad school, and the job hunt, I have big news: I have been hired for my first librarian position! It’s basically my dream job and I’m crazy excited. Let me know if y’all are interested in hearing more about that and I’ll report back with details in another post.

As psyched as I am to be starting this new position, there is one teeny, tiny drawback. To avoid a hellish commute, I have to move to a new town…which means that I need to do a major overhaul of my personal library. As something of a hoarder/collector, I’ve got hundreds of books and I simply cannot justify bringing them all.

How many books do I have, exactly? Well the answer to that is…I’m too afraid to count. And also I became bored after I reached 500. So, yeah.

David is judging me

Clearly I cannot bring all of those with me, or my movers are going to laugh in my face. There’s only one thing to do: purge the collection. The problem with purging – or more accurately, pruning – my collection is that I haven’t done it in years. Not since the last time I moved, actually. There’s a ton to go through, because apparently I only get rid of books when I move house.

So where should I start? How to decide which books will stay, and which ones will go? So far I’ve decided to either donate or exchange all the books I no longer have any interest in reading and those that I’ve already read but will likely never re-read.

All those Sarah J. Maas books I bought before I lost interest in the series? Yeah, those are going to find a new home at the local secondhand book store. Adios to the Hunger Games series, ciao to the Under the Never Sky trilogy. No hard feelings to those books, but I’ve only got so much room in my new place!

My tattered copies of the Anne of Green Gables series, on the other hand…I will never part with them, no matter how many times I move and how rough they look. I may indulge in a new edition of the series at some point, but those originals are sticking with me ’til death do us part.

So what I want to know is this: when do you get rid of books? How do you decide which ones to get rid of, and where do you bring them? Or are you the rare collector who never gets rid of a single book? Are there any books that you will never get rid of?

Let me know your thoughts on getting rid of books in the comments below!

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  • Congratulations on your new job, I would love to hear more about it.

    I let go of a lot go books over the last years. About four/five years ago I kept all the books I read, I had seven big shelves full of books at that time (over 2000 books). Space wasn’t an issue, but looking at books I didn’t enjoy reading brought me no joy. So I decided to sort out all of the books I had already read but didn’t enjoy. Then I got rid of the TBR pile books I was no longer interested in. These two actions already helped a lot.

    But that wasn’t the end, because now my goal is to only own books, that really mean something to me, that I want to reread again and again, that make me smile just thinking about them. These books will forever stay in my life and on my shelves.

    So bit by bit I’m sorting out ok books, books I liked but didn’t love, classics that look pretty but that don’t interest me, and so on. Next I plan to sort out my historical romances, then romances in general. I will keep most of the books, but some will have to go.

    I still own a lot of books and always will, however when I now look at my book shelves I’m happy, because most of the books mean something special to me.

    Happy sorting out!

    • Chrystal M

      I donate some to library, some I drop at a Little Free Library near me, some I give to family and friends and others I take to used bookstore to swap for other books I want to read. I recently did a purge and found dead it hard. I got rid of tons that I meant to get to and thought I wanted to read, but had since lost interest. I also got rid of one’s I knew I’d never read again. I still have quite a lot, but it feels manageable. I’ve never had 500+ to deal with though so, good luck!

  • Congrats on the new job!!

    I try my best to get rid of books. I have sent a LOT to a friend and then she has sent some to me. Srsly, most be over 100, maybe like 150.

    I have also given A LOT to this book changing table the library has. Take one, leave one. I donated some to a small library in the area. I have given away books to people in my area.

    But still I have so many. And I would certainly never throw them away. Also second hand bookstore, eh, we have like one here now and they have so many books. I am afraid I’d get there and they would be all no thanks.

    The ones I save are the ones I enjoyed reading, and hardbacks. So hard to get rid of those for the most part. But I do confess that I have a lot at my parents, there is just not enough room here

  • Hmmm most of the books I have these days are e-books. I think almost all my physical books are back at my parents’ place, or on the shelves of my ~librarian partner~ (hahaha). The only books on my shelves in my current apartment that I brought with me from Canada are some math/physics textbooks which, truthfully, I’ve never used once since being in grad school.

  • I have stuffed shelfs and it amazes me because I have several hundred dollars credit at the used book store in town and have donated boxes and boxes of books on top of that. Without a major move forcing my hand I mostly just stare at my shelf every so often and say ‘wait, why did i keep that.’ I usually have another giveaway pile started in the basement at any time.

  • Yay for the new job, that’s fantastic! My answer is easy. I rarely if ever get rid of books. It just isn’t possible for me. I hear there are support groups for people like me? Or maybe medication?? I know the minute I decide to give something away I’ll regret it, even if it’s a book I have no use for. Like I said, I have a problem…

  • I recently did a small purge and donated to my libraries in my area. I am now trying to get rid of books as soon as I finish reading them by donating again. Congratulations on the new position.

  • This is a great discussion, I get rid of book son a rolling basis, since I’m always reading newer books. I let people borrow them and I donate to a books for prison program a few times a year.

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    Congratulations on landing a job that you know will be more a matter of doing something you love rather than simply working. 🙂
    As for getting rid of books, it’s a difficult choice, indeed when the subject of available space clashes with the love ties you built with the stories you read in the past. That’s one of the reasons I try to keep to e-books as much as I can: the storage space on my backup hard drive is practically unlimited, and only very, very special books still occupy my shelves. This way I can have the best of both worlds…

  • I have no idea, I don’t even want to think about it, to be honest! Until my husband builds me the shelves he promised me though, I have an excuse to simply let the books pile up with the reasoning that “I’ll get to it when the time comes.” So at the moment my linen closet is doing double duty as book shelves.

    When I do have to prune my collection though, I suppose I’ll start with donating the books that for years I’ve had the opportunity to read but still haven’t yet – because let’s face it, after all this time it’s probably not going to happen. Then with the books I didn’t particularly enjoy. The ones I’ll keep are probably the ARCs (I collect them), the signed books, and personal favorites 🙂

  • First, congrats on the new joB! That is awesome! So… I feel you, I have a very real book hoarding problem. And I also got bored around 500! It’s like once you get to that point it is no longer interesting 😉 I seem to be able to get rid of books that were only like, 3 stars or less, so my “read” shelves are a little more reasonable. But I can’t seem to let go of the unread ones! Like, they have some kind of power over me- what if it was going to be my next favorite book, but instead I messed it all up and got rid of it? That is definitely my biggest struggle! Good luck to you with your move! Oh- and as someone who has 13 editions of The Hunger Games series… I sob for their departure 😉

  • Congrats on that new job! Plus I would likely say goodbye to my Throne of Glass books too lol. But hmm I moved in June and most of my books are still in my old house. Once we get a bigger house, I will gladly bring all of those back. But I think I would give away the books that I hated or DNFd since who wouldn’t like to part ways with such books XD

  • Jessamine Julian

    Congrats on the new job! I am horrible about getting rid of books, but the rule that my fiance encourages me to follow is if I bring one in, I get rid of one (and vice versa). Thinking that way makes it a whole lot easier when it comes to pruning because then I can think of ones I may get in the future!

  • Congrats on the new job! That’s so exciting! I was really lucky that when I moved for school I was able to keep most of my books at my parent’s place. I’m terrible at getting rid of books haha. My strategy usually is I gift them away. But I think starting with you know you won’t re-read is a good start. Classic/sentimental reads definitely need to stay!
    Good luck!

  • YAAAAASSSSSSS, CONGRATULATIONS! You did it! I am so excited for you. =)

    OMG I am in the same position! I’m graduating in May, starting my new job in June, and also moving in June… I need to offload a ton of books. For me, it’s somewhat easy with the finished copies, because I can donate them to a number of centers around Baltimore City that will make sure the books go to underfunded libraries or low-income households (at least, that’s what they advertise. I think I trust them). But the ARCs… ARCs are different and not as many places will accept them. I’ll most likely start doing massive post-pub ARC giveaways, and just shipping them to winners. It’ll get pricey but I’d rather spend $10 getting rid of 15 books than have to throw them away or give them to a place that isn’t going to accept them and that place will then throw them away. :/

    Best of luck with everything, Danya!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    Congratulations! That’s so exciting 😀

    There are several ways I decide whether to keep a book or not. If I haven’t read it, then I ask myself: what is it about? If I can’t remember a single detail, that’s usually not a good sign. If the premise doesn’t really excite me, then it’s going.

    For books I have read, I think about whether I enjoyed them (if I didn’t, or they were meh, I don’t want them on my shelf) and whether they are part of a series. If it’s the first book in a series, and I didn’t love it nor do I have any plans on continuing with the series, I don’t keep it. I’m a bit more lenient with standalones 🙂

  • Greg Hill

    First of all, congratulations!! And as far as pruning the old collection, that’s a toughie. I don’t have a TON of books so it’s not a huge problem for me (I’ve been buying ebooks by the scads lately) but in college I had BOXES of books, some I hadn’t looked at much since I grabbed em in used bookstores, and I had to part with a lot of those when I moved. And frankly many of them I was no longer interested in… but it can be a tough call with some of them. 🙂

    I don’t have much advice since it’s hard to know sometimes which to keep, but good luck? 🙂

  • Hi, Danya! Sorry I haven’t been
    around lately, I’ve been really busy with classes in my PhD program. And I mean
    to answer you lovely comments on my blog. If only I had more than 24 hours in
    my day…

    I’ve already congratulated you
    on Twitter, I’m happy for you. I hope this job would live to all your
    expectations! I’m definitely interested in hearing more about that. In truth I
    know close to nothing about librarian job in the US and Canada. Good luck with
    moving!

    No judging for collecting books
    from me. I’m a hoarder too. The only reason I still have space to live is that
    I read mostly e-books. It’s so hard to get rid of books for me. It physically pains
    me. Lol. I think it’s easier for me to part with those books that I’ve already
    read but will likely never re-read. Those I no longer have any interest in
    reading though… What if I change my mind? There are several books that are
    close to my heart and I will never get rid of. They are mostly in
    Russian.

  • Bookworm Brandee

    Congrats on the new job, Danya! That’s fantastic!! 🙂
    As for when I get rid of books…well, when I’m running out of space! Haha Honestly though, I always ask myself if I’ll re-read the book. If the answer is “no” then I get rid of it. I think taking them to a used book store, where you can earn credit to be used later, is ideal. But donating them is also great!
    Good luck with your move and starting your new position!

  • Oh dear, this hard one 🙁 I usually let go when have no choice as well and then I am ruthless. The books I keep are the ones I can’t do without, and that’s not more than 10 I think and they’re really the ones I NEED to have close to me. And then there’s the most recent ones I haven’t read. I once carried books from Sydney to Toronto to Amsterdam and back to Sydney, so I am absolutely serious when I say I only keep the ones I NEED 🙂

    • And, I hit enter too fast 🙁 I am also so jealous of you right now because working in a library is ties with owning a bookstore as the BEST job ever. Nods. Congratulations! They’re lucky to have you!

  • Congratulations Danya!! I’m so happy for you! *virtual cake and hugs* And yes I’d love to hear more!!

    I’m a crazy hoarder when it comes to books and I reread a lot!! So very truthfully I haven’t gotten rid of many books..But when I did get rid of books, I think i gave up thrillers. ( My logic is with a thriller once you know the final secret, rereading is impossible for me. Once the secret’s out, you can’t go back to not knowing!) At least with fantasies like HP, there is so much more than the ‘final secret’ and I can reread HP a million times! Also when I was younger, I gave up a whole load of books while moving and donated them to an orphanage nearby ..That made me so happy <3

    I hope you figure out the book problem Danya <3 Good luck with everything!

  • I’ve been saving this post to comment on for a while (congrats, btw, I know I said it before but you know always good to say again). I am terrible at getting rid of books. I have big clear outs every so often but the books tend to just get shifted around the house where I can’t see them. I would take them to the charity shop but since I can’t drive it’s always a bit of a mission. I do try to give some to friends and those I know will appreciate them. It’s a nightmare really.

    There will always be books I will keep forever, even if I never read them again. Harry Potter will live pride of place on my shelves (yes, even Cursed Child) and Pride and Prejudice will live there as well. I’ve got romance which I will never get rid of even if the covers make me cringe. Then there are books I bought because I wanted to read and really enjoyed, like Me Before You, but know I will never read again. It’s all about judging the book quickly. Don’t think on it too long and fingers crossed you feel no regrets afterwards.

  • Lynn Williams

    Well done on your job – and yes, I would love to hear more about that aspect if you get the chance to post.
    As to getting rid of books, take me back a couple of years and I probably would have been horrified. These days, not so much. That said, I still own a lot of books and the thought of getting rid is tough – I think because I feel like I want them to go to a good home!
    Lynn 😀

  • Kelly

    I don’t get rid of books…ever. I’m not on your level though, so I can’t speak to if that will always be the case haha

    I think the last time I did give away a handful was when I was so upset with the way the series was going, it made me angry to see them on my shelf! Haha

    Congrats on the new job – and good luck with the pruning. I read somewhere that it’s easier to start with what you know you NEED to keep, and then whittle what’s leftover from there!