Danielle writes in …
What do you two suggest about giving away books that you have not read yet, intend to read, and never get to. I have so many books hoarded from library sales, sidewalks, and forays into used book stores, but I have not gotten into many of them. I want to donate them, but I feel like that means I am giving up on those books I haven’t even read yet! What are your suggestions about giving up on books that have been around for too long?
Mallory: From one book hoarder to another, I hear you. There are so many amazing books in the world. It’s hard not to pretend you’re a dragon, make a giant pile of them, and roll around on it. But if you’ve had a book for years and still haven’t gotten to it, it’s probably time to give that coveted shelf space to a book that you’re actually going to read. Set a year limit. For me, it’s three years or one move. If I haven’t read a book three years after I’ve bought it, or I’m preparing to move with it for a second time and it’s still unread, it’s time to say goodbye.
Brea: I have to agree with Mallory here. Good intentions don’t make read books. There’s a reason Marie Kondo’s book had everyone talking—it was because she was right. Take those books, hold them in your hands, and ask yourself if they bring you joy. Maybe you were on a great friend date when you bought them, or maybe you were supporting your favorite bookstore. On the other hand, maybe you feel a little guilty for not reading it. That is a book that needs to go away. You know, deep down, the books you are going to read. Time to be real with yourself, Danielle. (Also, if you do pick up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, maybe just get it from the library so you aren’t adding to your hoarding issue.)
Mallory: If this book-shedding process makes you sad, you can alleviate that by donating the books to a good cause, like the Women’s Prison Book Project. Knowing that those books will be out in the world—doing some good rather than sitting for years on your shelf—might help you part ways. You can also check to see if your local bookstore buys used books. My local bookstore, The Last Bookstore, buys used books and gives you store credit. When I have a bunch of books that have been sitting around untouched for years and I know I can sell them and replace them with books that I’ll be excited about, it really motivates me to clear that stack off my shelves.
Brea: If all of this is too scary, do the old standby that my mother taught me. Put the books you may not want in a box and put them away. Open it again in a year. If you haven’t thought about those books, trust me, they haven’t been thinking about you either. Move on and make room for books you actually do want to connect with.