February 23, 2010

Decluttering my book shelf

While nothing is happening in our palazzo, I decided to do something in our appartment (where we actually live). Although the book shelf did not look too bad, I wanted to declutter it. Because I knew (what others could not see) that piled up pocket books were getting yellow behind more paperback piles. Travel guides were standing in two rows as well. There were books that I have read and will never read again. I only wanted to keep the books that I really liked - and maybe would read again.

So I started with the first cubicle and went book by book:
  • garbage --> pink box
  • give away to charity (or friends) --> white box
  • check and think again
  • keep --> back to shelf (after dust cleaning)
The pink box was filled up several times and I went several times to our paper recycling container. The white box was also overflowing at the end and I switched to a moving box. When I wanted to bring it to the church for a charity bazaar, I realised that most of the books where in English language. So I only brought the German books to the church and the English ones I gave a friend who works in the English liabrary and will use the old paperbacks for their own charity bazaar.

The only books I did not threw out were all my travel guides. Although there were lots of outdated Lonely Planet guides, I decided to keep them. Even the two from Cambodia, I kept them both. Maybe I am too sentimental. But aren't they documents of past times? My travel memories, including business cards of shops and restaurant.

Enough - here are my before and after pics:


before detail

Don't you see a difference ? Well, I have to admit, the second rows can't be seen in the before photo. But I know how many boxes I brought downstairs and how much lighter the book shelf feels now to me.

after detail
The travel section was not that easy : now I have Germany together with China, Italy goes with a rest of Italian books, rest of world and some Asia is combined while South East Asia has a cubicle for itself. There is potential for optimization. Next time.


  1. Good job. I love a neat book shelf, but I have to ask, you can seriously throw away a book? The only books I have ever had the courage to put in the garbage were literally falling apart---or the ones that I knew I shouldn't have purchased but just was too curious--you know the ones written by hacks. Guess those WWII movies showing the book burnings really had an effect on me!

  2. Ciao Diana e Guido,
    I agree!
    For me it is very difficult to throw away - anything. So the books that I threw out were mainly paperbacks that had become yellow and smelly - and were cheap novels or out dated books, like the one in the picture (world Almanach 1999) - okay, this one might become antique one day - but no one would buy it at a charity bazaar.
    The books with great content I keep of course, even when they became yellow, smelly and need a fixing.

  3. I thought I had done of good job of cleaning out my bookshelves before our big move but now that I'm unpacking box after box of books, I'm realizing I need to do it again! I like your system and will do something like it as soon as I have a free moment. Ha! I am the same as you with my travel guides. I have dozens and dozens but I can't part with them. I've only ever thrown one away and to this day I regret it. Like you say, it's like a souvenir.

  4. A girl after my own heart! I love bookshelves, and I love a good reorganization...I can definitely see the difference! I *still* don't have shelves in our new place, so my books are in boxes. And they're unhappy, I just know it...pian piano....

  5. To the Right Bank:
    "recycling" books helps. Keep the good ones, the ones that still speak to you - and give away / share the others. Throwing away is just for the smelly yellow cheap ones.

    To Michelle:
    Yes, some books have a soul and need a nice place in a bookshelf, not in a box.