Shelf Life: The Spring Clean

Books at work
Category: Reading

It's Spring again, the sun is shining, the birds are singing - it's the time of year to clean everything. But there's an elephant in the room all book lovers are avoiding...

The bookshelves.

You'll tentatively clean around them and kid yourself that if you spend more time rearranging the spice rack and your wardrobe then they won't need doing. But it's time to look the shelves in the eye and face the inevitable fact - you can't keep every book forever.

I know it's hard - they're your friends, you've been through hard times together and you've shared your house with them for years. You see them every day and they're there whenever you want to hang out. And when you're not reading them, they're there, just looking beautiful. 

But there are lots of reasons every book lover should cleanse their shelves on a regular basis. I'm particularly talking to you if your shelves are fit to bursting, you've bought more books this year than you've read or you just can't remember what's on your shelves.

As a book lover, you are responsible for loving books as they deserve to be loved and giving them the best possible life. Books exist to be read, enjoyed and shared and there's a high chance this isn't happening if you're keeping volumes captive on your bookshelves.

Here are some things to consider when deciding if you're giving your books the attention they deserve or if they could do with being rehomed:


It's been on your 'to read' list for years

This is an understandable symptom of being a book lover, you always know where your next book is coming from and you stockpile like the book apocalypse is about to hit. But if you're not going to read it in the near future, you should let it go to a new home. Unless you're planning on opening a library, you don't need a copy of every book.


You've already read it

Some books are like roots and you can't escape them: you'll return, re-read and re-love them, but the majority are one hit wonders you'll never open again.

Figure out what you really love and give the others to friends or pass on to charity shops for someone else to discover.


You're not sentimental about it

It's a fact that there are some books you just won't get rid of, these are books that prop up your shelf/life. These are likely presents, books you grew up with, or that hit a chord, but you are attached to them and they aren't going anywhere. But all those other ones, you can definitely get rid of those...


It's not beautiful

If it doesn't fall into any of the above categories then it has to be an exceptionally beautiful book to stay on the shelf!


Follow these guidelines and your duty as a book lover is done for now. You can sit back with a good book, satisfied you're loving and reading the books you own and have beautiful spring-cleaned shelves.

And if you need another incentive to clean up your shelves, think of all the room you'll make for another year's worth of new books!


Struggling to finish what's on your shelf?

Looking for ideas to creatively recycle your books? 


Image: Books at Work



Subscribe to our monthly e-updates for book lovers