A Professional Organizer Shows How to Declutter a Bookshelf

I consider myself a highly organized person, but even I need to declutter now and again.  Sometimes new purchases are being made faster than I am getting rid of old or unused items.  Also, my aesthetic changes over time.  I am definitely in a less is more stage and I’m applying that to many areas of my life. An avid reader, I consider books as friends. But my bookshelf was looking a little crowded. In this post I show how to declutter a bookshelf.


How to Declutter a Bookshelf


How to Declutter a Bookshelf


Over the years I have purchased a lot of books over the years and I consider them valuable.  Now, however, I tend to use the library.  I assumed I was sentimental about all these books from my past and therefore had to keep them.

I assumed I was sentimental about all these books from my past and therefore had to keep them. Click To Tweet

Yet looking at my built-ins in the family room made me claustrophobic!  It was time to declutter a bookshelf! Here’s a before picture.  I have a little silly look on my face because my daughter took the picture before I was ready.  So try to ignore me 🙂


Daria Bookshelves Before


(I made a little video I put on Facebook introducing myself and my bookshelf project.  My dear daughter filmed it for me.  It’s the first and only take.  What you see is what you get.  Click here if you didn’t get a chance to see it:  Facebook video.)


What Books Did I Get Rid Of?


First, I removed all of the books from my bookshelf and gave it a good dusting. Then I asked myself some hard questions about my books.

  • What purpose were these books serving?
  • Would I read this book again?
  • Did I want my children to have this book some day?

When I waded into the stacks I realized a few things:

  • Some of the books I found interesting but if anyone were to be interested in the topic now, they’d probably go to a more recent source (for example, my “Soviet Women” book)
  • Other books I flat out did not remember what they were about so how could I really say I was sentimental about those?
  • A few were good old fashioned coffee table books-which I don’t use in my decor
  • Some books I enjoyed fairly well but no one else in my family would


What books Did I Keep?


The books that made the cut were ones I remember reading.  I remember when I read them, the stage of life I was in.  The writing was outstanding and the ideas within changed my perspective.  Letting go of these books would be like losing a friend.  Just for fun, a few titles:

  • Anything I own written by John Irving including my favorite “A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • To Kill A Mockingbird”  My daughter and I started a mother/daughter book club when she was in third grade and it survived until they were in 7th grade.  The moms decided we would let the girls choose whatever they wanted.  It wasn’t school.  And one of our darlings chose this book.  What an eye opener for them, what an incredible teaching moment.  My next greyhound is going to be male and I’m naming him Atticus.
  • Angela’s Ashes”  How can a book be so heartbreaking and so funny at the same time?  Masterful writing.
So now I’ve got only my favorite books on the shelves and some of my favorite objects.  I feel like I can breathe now when I look at my bookshelf.  Plus, this area of my home is now more meaningful. Before the declutter, it was merely a storage area. Now, it is a reflection of our family.
Here’s the after picture.  What do you think?

 Let me know if you decide to tackle a bookcase. What books did you keep?
Happy Decluttering,
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