TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten dos and don’ts of unhauling

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(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

One day, you’re going to need to get rid of some books. I agree: unhauling is the least fun part of being a bookworm! Sadly, not many people are privileged enough to have room for Beauty’s bookcase in their home.

Beauty's bookcase

Over the last few months, my personal library had gotten out of control. I was acquiring books far more rapidly than I could read, and the stacks on my floor had multiplied. It was getting to the stage where you couldn’t see the carpet for the books. So I decided enough was enough, and I started deciding which books I was going to get rid of.

I came up with some rules for myself, and I followed them strictly. I now have almost all of my books on shelves where they belong! Follow these ten dos and don’t, and your unhauling nightmare will become a breeze.

10) DON’T let emotions get in the way

This is last because it’s practically impossible.

“The cover’s too beautiful!” I wailed multiple times while weeding. “It looks so good on the shelf!”.

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
The most beautiful book I’m unhauling *sob*

It doesn’t matter how beautiful a book is if you have no intention of reading it. Gorgeous books are the most difficult to unhaul, but it’ll be satisfying to search for an even prettier replacement.

9) DO save books you love

Okay, so this contradicts the first piece of advice… But hear me out!

If you’ve read a book and you absolutely LOVED it, that’s something you need to keep. Yes, it takes up space that could be filled by a book you haven’t read yet. And that new book could be a book that you’ll end up loving even more than the original… But it’s important to surround yourself with things that make you happy.

8) DO keep books on subjects that genuinely excite you

Interested in creative writing, but haven’t read that guidebook yet? There’s no shame in that! Keep it, and browse it to your heart’s content when you have some downtime. Not interested in geography, but were gifted a book of world maps years ago? Get rid of it. It’s better for someone else to enjoy it than for it to take up vital space.

7) DON’T do it all at once

This contradicts most advice I’ve seen before, but it worked for me! I worked for a couple of hours a day for a week, and I got through my entire book collection. If I’d attempted to sort all of them on one day, I probably would have died. (That’s not an exaggeration. I have a huge amount of books).


6) Didn’t like it? DON’T need it

I have this uncontrollable desire to own every book I read. For a while, I’d buy every book that I borrowed from the library. Why did I do this? I have no idea! While unhauling, I got rid of every book that I’ve already read that I felt ambivalent towards (or really HATED). There’s no point in keeping books that are just going to irritate you.

5) DO catalogue titles as you go
Happy notebook
My happy book of books!

My mum gave me this notebook a few years ago, and I decided to utilise it while organising my book collection. Assigning a different letter to each page, I wrote down the title and author of every book I own. I also indicated whether the book was in hardback or was an advanced copy, and put a little star next to any of my signed titles. Nice and easy to keep track!

List of books I own

Eventually I’m going to upload all of the information to Goodreads, so I can look at average ratings and page numbers… But I can’t face doing that yet!

4) DO involve your family

If you’re anything like me, you’ll share reading tastes with your family. Instead of deciding what was staying and what was going, I conferred with my mum at multiple points during the process. She wanted to read some books that I thought sounded boring, so they were saved, but we agreed completely on the majority of titles. Having someone you can talk to makes you less likely to doubt your decisions (especially if you end up arguing really strongly one way or the other!).

3) DON’T keep random bits of series
A pile of books
A handful of the random parts of series that I’m unhauling

When you realise you have the fourth, ninth and twentieth book in a series, that’s NOT a sign than you should go out and buy the missing installments. If you’re still really interested in a series, unhaul the three you already have and start at the beginning. You must read the first book before you buy the second, and on and on.

2) DO discard terrible condition titles
Pile of dirty books
Look at these ex-library books I’m unhauling…. Ew!

I’m a snob. I like books with unstained pages and unbroken spines. Once upon a time, I could grab any book that looked interesting and be blind to its condition. Now, I won’t buy a book if it’s visibly tarnished. Considering I do all of my book shopping in charity shops, this can be difficult!

Get rid of any books that are in dreadful condition: they won’t make you proud of your shelves. If you’re still interested in reading the titles, put them in a separate pile and discard as soon as you’ve finished them. Love the story? By a replacement copy in good condition.

1) DON’T tolerate duplicate copies
Pile of books
Duplicates – the hoarder’s best friend

Since working in a library, I’ve developed a burning hatred for duplicate copies. You’re allowed to own favourite books in a few different formats (I have ARCs and hardbacks of every book in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy) but you don’t need multiple copies of EVERY book.

I still own all of these books, these are just the duplicates that I’m unhauling. Eek!

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! Are you a fan of unhauling, or do you want to own every book in the world?

  • Barb(Boxermommyreads)

    Great suggestions and I love your Happy Book! It’s too cute and a wonderful idea. I used to write all the books down I read but then started using Goodreads. I would like to catalog mine someday – but that’s not a priority 🙂

    • I’d never seen anything like it before: mum waited until I was having a really bad day and gave it to me, and it definitely made me crack a smile! I can’t remember a time before Goodreads… Where would we be without it?!

  • Jo Elliott

    I haven’t really ever done a major book unhaul, got rid of various books I’d grown out of here and there, but never anything huge, I’m not sure if I could!
    My TTT:

    • This is the first time I’ve undertaken anything like it! I’m proud, but I’m still apprehensive… If I go back through the bags before I donate the books I’ll definitely pull things back out, so I’m trying to resist the temptation.