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13 Guilt Free Items to Declutter From Your Bookcase Now

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON May 19, 2024

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Feeling overwhelmed by your books? It’s time to declutter them and make some space. Use this handy list of items to declutter from your bookcase to go through your own collection and let go of what you can. Purge everything from fiction to non fiction (and including any other book related items that may also be there), and get the clutter-free bookshelf you want, starting today.

Lady carrying a pile of books - with post title overlaid saying 13 guilt free items to declutter from your bookcase

If you’re an avid reader, chances are your living room (or bedroom, or hallway!) bookcase is overflowing with books and probably lots of other book related stuff that you’ve stashed there and long forgotten about.

And while books can be a source of joy and knowledge, having too many of them can make your living space feel cluttered and overwhelming for sure.

Decluttering your bookcase will not only make your home feel more organised, but it can also help you rediscover books that you didn’t remember you had.

And let’s face it, you can also free up a lot of valuable storage space, which is a huge bonus.

Lastly, as the second in line of the big categories that Marie Kondo suggests tackling – you can be sure that it’s one of those areas that we all have to look at at some point!

So – how do you go about it, and what should you look out for?

Let’s get started…

Related: Want To Declutter? Not Sure Where To Start? Take The Free Quiz Now!

How To Declutter Your Bookcase

When it comes to decluttering your bookcase, it’s important to always be intentional about what you keep and what you let go of.

Start by taking all of your books off the shelf and sorting them into piles.

These piles could be based on several categories – depending on your criteria for books:

  • Whether you’ve read them or not
  • Used regularly – for reference etc…
  • Genre
  • Whose books they belong to
  • Sentimental

Having them in piles will help you to break up the big decluttering task into smaller and more achievable sections.

TIP: Don’t try and sort through other peoples books – you need to let them make decisions on these. Creating their own piles will help with this.

When you declutter you need to decide what you will keep and what unwanted books you will let go (and then, whether you’ll sell or donate these).

Start with the easy decisions, and then work from there.

If you have space restrictions in your bookcase, keep going until you have enough space to keep everything you want.

Then you’re done!

So – what types of things will you be able to declutter?

Let’s look at the full list now:

13 Categories Of Books To Declutter From Your Home Today

#1 – Books you’ve never read and won’t ever read

#2 – Books you have read but have no intention of reading again

#3 – Damaged books that are hard to read

If your books aren’t in good condition, then it can stop them being readable. You may not be able to open them without pages falling out, for instance.

#4 – Books you’ve got more than one of 

When I moved in with my now husband, we found that we had quite a few duplicates of books we’d both bought previously. 

We kept the copy that was either the most valuable (in terms of sentiment i.e had a note from a family member inside), or the one in the best condition – and then let go of the rest.

#5 – Manuals for tech items you have

In todays world, you can find the info online really quickly. Just type in the make and model and voila! 

You’ll get the most up to date information as well, and maybe you’ll see others that have had the same issue and how they fixed it.

#6 – Outdated reference books

For example, travel books and maps can have wrong information in them from even a year ago…, or what about those long forgotten telephone directories, and old shop catalogues.

#7 – Notebooks that are mostly used but full of notes you don’t need

Just be sure that you’ve checked them for any personal information, as that needs to be shredded rather than just thrown away – for security.

#8 – Recipe books you don’t use

There are usually only one or two recipes that you use from a recipe book, so why not write those down in a recipe file and let the bulky book go.

Plus, you can easily find recipes online…

#9 – Old Magazines

There are usually quite a few magazines in a pile or two hanging around most homes and creating a cluttered mess. 

If you really want to keep articles, then rip those out and create a folder of your own. Then you can let the unwanted items go.

Also – don’t forget to cancel any magazine subscriptions that you don’t read any longer

#10 – Kids books they’ve outgrown

#11 – Text books from past studies

#12 – Finished sticker books / puzzle books / colouring books etc..

#13 – Books related to hobbies you don’t do any more

Lady carrying a pile of books - maybe decluttering or organising them

Considerations for Decluttering Books

Space Constraints

One of the most common reasons for decluttering a bookshelf is to gain more shelf space. 

If you find yourself running out of room on your bookshelf, it’s definitely time to declutter books!

Related: How To Organise Books – Tips And Tricks To Try!

Decorating and Design

If you’re decluttering your bookshelf for design purposes, it’s important to consider the aesthetic of your space.

Take a step back and evaluate the overall look of your bookshelf.

If you have a lot of books with bright, bold covers, and your decor is more neutral, then consider removing some of them (or even just their dust sleeves) to create a more cohesive look.

Alternatively, you may want to create some white space on your bookshelf to let your collection breathe a little, or for adding some decorative items to the shelves.

Sentimental Value

Some books hold sentimental value and can be difficult to part with. If you’re struggling to declutter your bookshelf because of sentimental attachment, should this book actually be in your memory box instead of the bookcase?

Or, can you display it in a different way – like on your coffee table?

Future Reading Plans

If you’re an avid reader, it can be tough to part with books that you plan on reading in the future.

However, if you’re running out of space or want to create a more streamlined bookshelf, it may be time to be realistic about whether you’ll really read them all.

Any that you definitely will read may be better off kept separately from the rest, so you can see them and they don’t get lost amongst the others.

Lady carrying a pile of books - maybe decluttering or organising them

There you have it – all the categories of items to declutter from your bookcase now.

How many of them do you have?

Yes, decluttering your bookcase can be a daunting task, full of guilt, but it can also be a liberating experience.

By removing books that no longer serve a purpose in your life, you can create space for new books that will inspire and motivate you, space to create a book collection that truly reflects your interest and passions, or just some extra space!.

Remember, the key to successful decluttering is to be honest with yourself about what you need and what you don’t – and don’t be afraid to let go of books that you no longer enjoy or find useful.

Your local charity shop will always be grateful for new titles to sell!

Finally, don’t forget to regularly review your book collection and continue to declutter as needed.

By doing so, you can maintain a clutter-free bookcase that brings you joy and inspiration for years to come.

Read Next: 17 Sneaky Things That Are Making Your Home Feel Cluttered (Still!)

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This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on OrganiseMyHouse.com (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...

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