Weeding Your Personal Book Collection

Seriously, so many books to read . . .

I suppose I should wait and write about this in January, when it’s time to look at resolutions for the new year. However, it seems like good timing: I’m catching up on some Book Riot posts, and I just started unpacking my own books after my recent move to the St. Louis area.

The November 19, 2015, post on Book Riot has some helpful advice on how to weed your personal collection of books. As a librarian, I’m used to weeding the collections in the public libraries I’ve worked in, but I’ve somehow not always applied those tactics to my personal collection of books. Jessica Pryde’s post has some helpful tips, and she starts with: “Set aside a weekend to be able to dedicate yourself to your books. Get a lot of reusable grocery bags (I would suggest not getting the ones from Costco). Select some good music or movie favorites that you won’t need to pay a lot of attention to, make sure you have snacks and libations (but NO DRUNK WEEDING), and know where your trouble spots are.” Sound advice, from my perspective. And, the steps for putting books into categories are:

  • “Never gonna read it. Give someone else the chance to enjoy it.
  • Read it and liked it. Would loan it to a friend.
  • Read it and enjoyed it. But it doesn’t necessarily leave any kind of impression.
  • Did I read that? What was it even about?
  • I haven’t read it yet.
  • I have to keep it. I can’t express why, but this book cannot leave my house.”

Pretty simple, right? If you have a large collection of personal books, I’d suggest reading the whole post and taking a look at what you have, and what you could remove in order to make room for new books. Because let’s admit it:  those of us who are book junkies know that there are always new books that we need to bring home. And with a new year approaching, it’s a good time see what you might be able to take out of your own collection, and gift to someone else (a friend, a family, or even a used bookstore for someone else to discover and delight in that book).

And, on a completely personal note: I would recommend evaluating your personal book collection before you decide to move anywhere. In fact, maybe do it once a year. I should have been doing this, but, in fact, just kept adding to my personal collection. It was so easy: I worked at a public library where I had full access to what was being weeded, and to the book sales (as staff, we got access before the sale actually opened to the public), so I would see books and just grab them, pay for them, and take them home. And then there was the totally awesome used books & CD store, too, which I couldn’t stay away from. And, I thought, I’ll get to them. Someday. Then, I got a new job, which meant moving to a different state. That meant packing, which meant evaluating my books. I started off strong, and I did it ahead of time. And then, I ruthlessly did it as I was packing up the boxes. Many, many boxes. I wound up sending about 100 books to Goodwill and giving others to friends and family. And now that I’ve physically moved those boxes into the new house and up the stairs, and have started unpacking them, I have vowed to never again wait until the last minute, like I did before. Instead, once a year, I plan to follow Jessica Pryde’s steps. Having access to a great public library means I can focus on keeping what I truly love, and gives me the option to let go of the rest.

How do you handle your own personal collection? Any helpful tips to pass along?


About centerforthereader

St. Louis Central Library, Center for the Reader, is where you can find fiction, reading suggestions, author information, and much more!
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