Clear Your Shelves

Help Your Shelves

If your family is anything like mine, the holidays resulted in a lot of new books. GREAT. And also: NOT GREAT.


My whole family loves reading books. Real books. We all have e-Readers but tend to use them for things like working-out or taking on vacation. We are all old-school, holding books, smelling books, turning pages in books readers. Meanwhile, our bookshelves are double and triple shelved. The shelves themselves are caving. We’re literally using stacks of books to hold our bookshelves up, which seems counter intuitive.


This year I resolved to clean out the old, the duplicates, the outgrown, the torn up, the got wet at some point, the no longer into, the no longer teen-approved, and the (as evidenced above) literally eaten by a book worms books from our shelves. In case you’re wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while, this was a monumental project. I have been booked solid working on this since we started. And in case you’re looking to tackle a similar project, I thought some of my findings might be helpful.


Here are some inventive ways to get rid of (er, I mean, recycle) the books that didn’t make your “keep” list:


The books that are beyond repair and impossible to read: Where we could, we recycled them. However, due to the glue binding, many recycling locations won’t accept all your old books. In lieu of that we made paper logs for the fireplace and fire pit. We also kept some of the pages from old favorites to make literature inspired crafts such as photo frames, and the bindings of others to make treasure boxes.


Books in pretty good condition: We donated bags of books to local schools, libraries, medical offices and hospitals, Goodwill, shelters, and thrift stores. And my daughter insisted on donating some to the place where we get our haircuts because “I can only look at those stupid grown-up magazines for so long, mom!”


Books in decent shape: We sent about fifty books off to be free in the world. We tried a number of pass-along techniques. We built a “Little Library” outside our house. These adorable little lodgings sit on the curb at mailbox level and hold books for folks to stop by and take. Keep in mind, our box is not actually adorable. We don’t actually have to have the skills to build anything fancy like they show on that website. All you need is a roof and walls to shelter the books from the elements, and a sign letting people know they can take them. Sometimes, people will leave books in your box as well.


We also set a few books free using Bookcrossing IDs and placed them in strategic locations, including ice-cream stores (again, due to child insistence, this time because I think they wanted ice cream). We look forward to seeing where they travel to.


Whatever you decide to do with the books, cleaning out the space from your shelves is bound to feel cathartic. Luckily, magazines take up a lot less room than books so there was no need to recycle our Cricket and Muse back issues, although we did place a few in our Little Library so other families can experience the same joy reading the stories and articles that we did.


Cricket Media Mom managed to free up two inches of bookshelf space. She’s already ordered 14 new books.