EP02: Downsizing Your Home Library

Trying to downsize the items in your home can be difficult. I’ve recently finished unhauling most of my home library and I wanted to share tips with you to help get the project done. Feel free to share your tips with me as well.

Mentioned in the Episode

Episode Transcript

Hello, and welcome to Mel Talks Books. I’m your host, Mel, and I like to talk books around here. So let’s just go right into it.

This is Episode Two. Yay. So excited that I’ve made it this far. I know it probably sounds silly, but most people quit these things after like three episodes. So I’m two thirds of the way to being a little bit more successful than the average.

Now in today’s episode, I am going to be talking about downsizing your home library. This is something that I have personally done. And I know that it can be a bit overwhelming for those who are thinking about doing it themselves. So I just wanted to share my story of downsizing and offer some tips to you who might be interested in managing this project yourself.

So like many objects in the home, books can add up, they’re heavy, they take up a lot of space. And trust me, if you moved around as many times as I did, and had to lug around all those boxes of books, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And you know, your reading habits also change over time, the books that I really enjoyed 10 years ago, I don’t necessarily enjoy them anymore. So I needed to make a change and look at what I had.

Now, the beginning of this year was you know, we had some free time. And I finally got to finish doing my own haul and downsizing this library. I’ve been trying to minimize my bookshelves for over two years. So it was nice to really get that final push and complete that project. Over the years, I had been working on becoming more minimalist and I had found myself overwhelmed by the items in my home and I wanted to make a change the items didn’t hold a sentimental value to me. And that included my books.

So I didn’t feel too guilty about, you know, deciding to get rid of items. But there was always that you know, voice in the back of my mind telling me that I should keep things like all those your books that I probably never looked at or home picture albums, and even just the books because to be honest, growing up, I had always wanted this big extensive on library. And you probably all know what movie, you know really gave me that idea.

But either way, it took years for me to build. And by the time I was done, I had an entire room because we were lucky enough to have the space. So I had an entire room full of books. I think there were about six floor to ceiling bookshelves and I had slammed full filled every single one of them. And for quite some time I was really happy with it.

I took the time to cultivate collections. I got classics, I went to giant book sales and found items I can fill it up I tried to find some rare books. So yeah, it was a process to build it just like it was a process to downsize, I decided to minimize my home library and keep only the books that I loved and would reread in the future. So by the time that I was done this year, I had narrowed down from six bookcases to half of one’s basically three individual shelves.

I have chosen to keep only titles that stood out novels that made me smile. I like that I can extensively talk about each item on my bookshelf. So if you picked one out, I could tell you all the spoilers. And as I go forward, I want to only add items that are my favorites. So I try not to buy things anymore, unless I’ve gotten really attached to it.

And I understand that not everyone has the same feelings that I do if having a large home library makes you happy. That is fantastic. Happiness is the main goal, especially when it comes to how we curate and build our house and our rooms. And you want to be comfortable in the place that you live.

But if you feel like minimizing your collection or you need to downsize for space issues, I would like to share how I went through that process and just share a few tips that might help you out.

Take Your Time

Now the first and probably one of the most important things to remember is that you need to take your time with this process. Anything can be overwhelming if you tried to rush through it. And downsizing The library is no different, especially if you feel an attachment to the books that you own.

So as long as you’re not in a time crunch, because I do understand that some people move and maybe they don’t have the same amount of space and you have a limited amount of time to get this done. But if you have the time to space out your process of going through things, then please take the necessary time. As I said before, it took me about two years to go through everything that I had.

So I really made an effort to go through have reasonable amounts of sections and make choices that made sense and that I hopefully wouldn’t regret in the future.

Set Goals for Your Final Library

Alright, so my next tip is to decide what your goals are for your final home library. What is the purpose of having this library? Are you trying to create something of only your favorites? Do you want to have a larger or semi large library that covers the basics, the classics, or the ones that are on the top 100 list?

Do you have to downsize because you only have so much space and so you need to only pick the items that are going to fit into that? Or maybe you’re trying to create a library that’s more aesthetically pleasing or more decorative.

And so the choices that you need to make are going to be based off of those goals to really think about what you want, and how you’re going to get to that. And once you kind of decide on your main idea what you’re trying to accomplish, then you can set parameters for the items that you’re going to keep, I wanted to create a small library that only included my favorites. But that might not be your goal.

Ask Questions to Narrow Down Choices

So think about what you’re trying to accomplish. And then think about the questions you need to ask to get there. So for me, I thought have I read this book? Did I intend to read this novel? Ever? Because honestly, there were some where that answer was a big no.

Did I like the book or series? Why am I keeping something that I didn’t even like? Is the book in good condition? Why did I own the title? Was it gifted to me? Or did I just pick it up off the side of the street? I don’t know, I wanted to discern whether or not I should keep the book.

So having these questions really helps me make the right decision.

And based on those answers, I could sort my book into one of five piles:

The first was the discard pile. This was for items that were of low quality or falling apart, I also had to add in any of the printed art copies that I owned, because you’re not allowed to resell those, or at least it’s a gray area that I didn’t really want to get into. So all of those just went immediately to the discard pile.

My second pile was the keep pile, those were books that were going to be staying. And based on the questions that I had. And the goals in mind, these were each titles that I’d already read and knew that I would probably reread again in the future.

The third pile was a TBR pile. Now, these are novels that I’d never read, but planned on getting to. And I actually set myself a one year rule. So if I don’t get around to reading those books within the year, they’re also going to go out the door.

My fourth pile was my sell pile. I used Decluttr to sell some of the books that I owned, I’ve used them many, many times, this isn’t an ad for them, I’ve just actually used them. And all you did was scan the ISBN and it tells you whether or not they would accept it and I got about 50 cents to $1 for each item. I would say about 10% or so of the items that I didn’t want to keep, I was able to sell and I was happy to get a little bit of extra money in my pocket.

And if it couldn’t be discarded, or kept or sold, then it went into the Donate pile. And those were items that I wanted to give to different organizations in the area. So whether it was a daycare at the library, a school or a thrift store, you know, whoever would maybe accept those items, it got donated there.

I found it really easy to just go through shelf by shelf and sorted out. Add these piles box everything up as I went so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed or feel like there was just a big giant mess everywhere. Because I know that can happen when you’re trying to rearrange or downsize is that it just gets a little crazy. And it almost looks like you’re never going to finish it. And I really didn’t want to have that feeling.

Things to Remember

It was also important to remember that the memories that you have about the books that you liked, you know, they’re not in the books, they’re in your mind.

And there are many, many ways that you have access to materials. Even after it’s out of your house, you have your local library, you have friends or family who might be book collectors themselves, their digital copies, you can buy digital one that won’t take up physical space, you know, there’s ways of getting books after they’re gone.

And if you happen to regret a decision, you can always buy it back later. And you know, I just don’t feel bad about it. There’s a reason why you want to downsize and you shouldn’t regret that you’re doing that and making that choice. And at the end of the day, you can always get stuff back.

If it’s really rare, or it really does mean a lot to you. Then maybe like I said set it aside, create like a one year or five year rule and reevaluate at a later date so that you don’t feel like you made a rash decision.


Thank you all for listening to this episode. I hope that there were some nice tips in there for you. And let me know if you’ve ever downsized your home library or if you have any advice for other listeners out there who might be going through this process.

You can find more information about our podcast at meltalksbooks.com and my Instagram handle is @meltalksbookspodscast. I know it’s a mouthful, but that’s what it is.

And super exciting. You guys can actually send me voice messages that I could play back in future episodes. So look in the show notes for a link to that which I’m really excited to hear from you all.

Next week we are going to be discussing, let me look, let me, let- The Frozen Crown, which is a fantasy novel by Greta Kelly. So read that book that way you can come to our full discussion. To my full discussion. I act like there’s more than one person. And that way I don’t have to spoil the book for you because you’re already going to know what’s going on.

All right. I will talk to you all next week. Bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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