Six rules for giving away your books

August 24, 2017

Moving house sucks. And as much I love my book collection, I’ve used the opportunity to give away some of my books.

But how can I give them away? For many of my bookworm friends, parting with a book is like parting with a limb. It’s an emotional, traumatic experience. What if I need that book later?

I used to be like that. I used to keep every single book I ever bought. It got too much – random books purchased on the spur of the moment on the history of Latin America lay dormant for years. I thought I’d read it, one day.

Well, let me tell you, if you haven’t read it already, it’s time to give it away. I came up with some rules for giving away my books to help me break the bond with paperbacks.

1. If you have two copies of the same book, give it away

This is the easy one. You don’t need two copies of Lord of the Rings or L.A. Confidential. Unless you’re an academic scholar assessing different translations, give those extra books away.

2. If you bought it more than five years ago but haven’t read it yet, give it away

The book you bought because you liked the cover. The book you got because it would be ‘good for research’. The book you bought when you went through a succulent obsession. If you haven’t read it five years after you bought it, get rid of it. You are not going to read that thing.

3. If you’ve read it and thought it was terrible, middling or okay, give it away

You didn’t like it and yet you’re letting it take up valuable real estate on your bookshelf. Why?

4. If you’re not going to read it again, give it away

You picked up this entertaining book in the airport and it was fun, but now it’s time to break up and leave it for someone else to enjoy.

5. If you got it for free but it’s not your type of book, give it away

Just because you got a book as a gift does not mean you have to keep it. Unless your author friend wrote a special dedication in his 700 page self-published epic fantasy novel. He’ll notice when it turns up in the charity bin. It’s got your name on it buddy.

6. If the book is out of date, give it away

You don’t need to keep that 1991 guide to building a website. The exercise journal from 1985, complete with lycra leotards. The travel guide from your first backpacking trip. This is why the internet was invented. To be honest, if it’s really out of date, I’d recycle the book.

Finally, one extra rule

If the book is damaged, mouldy, falling apart or eaten by meeces, put it in the recycling. Don’t give away books you wouldn’t want to keep. It’s creating extra work for charity shops.

Using this method, I’ve been able to get rid of five big bags of books. I still have heaps of books, but they’re ones I value. I encourage you to donate your excess books to charity or give them to friends who might enjoy them. If you find it hard to part with your books, start small and chip away at it. Once you start, you’ll feel lighter. And who doesn’t want less boxes to carry when they move?

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