Simple Books


Sorting all of my books into keep, or don’t keep

I suspect I am not alone in my love for books! It’s easy to have anything we love take over our lives. This year, with our annual declutter, I found that my books needed a little help, so I’m sharing my process with you.

With books I like to use the Marie Kondo method of gathering up all of my books from everywhere in my house. Ideally once we are done, the books can be in one or two spots vs in piles everywhere.

I pick up each book and ask if it brings me joy as Marie Kondo suggests. I know, I probably lost some of you out there. This even seems a little woo woo to me, but it is worth trying and it’s a practice that I have kept. You see, if you just look at an item (book or otherwise) you are gathering the information from your mind. By holding it and asking “does it bring me joy?”, you actually are listening to your body. I believe the body has more wisdom than the mind. The mind has all these rationalizations and reasons…”but I read that in grade school” or “I paid good money for that, I can’t let it go”, or “Aunt Susie gave that to me, she’d be miffed if I donated it.”

As you go book to book, Kondo guides you to create two piles…the “Yes” and the “no” piles. But, in my true Gemini way, I sometimes have a “maybe” pile as well. I later go through that pile again to get to my own yes or no answer. Most “maybes” become “nos” like a Meetup response often does, but use whatever process works for you.


Take time to wipe down the clear surfaces prior to sorting your books

Books in good condition can be sold. I like to go to Powell’s Bookstore where they will look them all up for you and then offer you cash or store credit for those they will buy. The store credit is a higher amount, but ask yourself if you want more books prior to saying yes to that. You can also sell your books to Powell’s by going online and then mailing them in. If you need the money, or you’ve never sold books, I suggest giving it a try just to see how the process works.

If you don’t need the money, I like to donate my books to the library. Our library system in Portland is so amazing, it does my heart good to give back to them. I also imagine that my book will be in the library system, should I change my mind and wish to read it. They don’t always keep them however, but I have yet to want to check out something I parted with.


My pile of unread books

This year, I had a big pile of unread books. I have been labeled as one of the students from the “suffer in silence” group, so I decided to break that pattern and reach out for help. I asked my declutter group for how they manage unread books and here’s their great advice:

  • I give them away after I’ve read them.
  • If I’ve read 50 pages and it’s not drawing me to read more, I donate it.
  • We’ve got a donation spot at work, where we can donate our books to others.
  • I’m reassured by how much information is online these days. This helps me let go of books I’m no longer using.
  • I set a deadline for reading the books that I have. Having to return books to the library is the biggest motivator for me.
  • I use space to contain my books, so once a bookshelf or shelf is full, that’s my limit. I then apply the “one in, one out” rule when I want a new book.
  • I use Goodreads as a way to prioritize my books to read along with deadlines for doing such.

I decided to take a pause from technology for a day to ponder what to do with my 20 unread books. It ended up that the pause from technology was one of the best things I could have done. Not only did it allow me to figure out a plan, but it actually gave me time to read. My mind was able to slow down and focus on reading while having fewer distractions. I was able to read two books that day and to figure out that the two partially read books were “done”, meaning I declared I’m not going to read them and I am done with them. So, I’ve now got 16 books and I’ve put them into Goodreads. My goal is to continue with tech-free days once a week to encourage more reading and to not buy more until I have finished the 16 that remain.

Wish me luck with this plan and a big thanks to my group for their ideas and support! Please share any other tips you have in the comments below.


  1. Amber Lewis says:

    I really like your tech free day a week idea. Thanks.


  2. Debi Hertert says:

    Hey Kathy! I love reading your solutions! Can you explain how you use Goodreads for your book supply?


    • Sure, I did 2 things – I put all unread books in one location physically. I also put them into Goodreads as a way to see them there and prioritize which ones I would read…then to watch that list shrink.

      One final thing is I told myself, no more books until this list is zero. And I’m putting reading time on my calendar along with the no-tech days. Hope that helps!


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