Get Organized: Books

On day two we work on how to tidy your bookshelves

Photo by Emily Minton Redfield

This is day 2 of the Get Organized Series, and I hope that when you were getting ready this morning you opened your closet, and it brought a smile to your face. So let’s keep up the good work and move on to the next category: books.

There is a misconception about this process suggesting that you should discard all books. If that idea terrifies you, it’s a great indicator that books bring you a lot of joy! And don’t worry, keep as many books as you want, just make sure they pass the joy check.

Much like clothes, and all the categories we are going to sort through this process, you want to remove all the items from their original space and create a pile. For books, you want to divide them into subcategories: general books, cookbooks, coffee table books, reference books, educational books and magazines. It’s also important not to open them while you are sorting. The goal is to hold each book and see how it makes you feel, by flipping through it or reading it, you will shift your emotions and get distracted from the process.

If you are not sure a book “sparks joy,” ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this book in my life?
  • Would I read it again?
  • Do I feel guilty for not reading it?
  • If I didn’t own it, would I buy it?
  • How did I feel when I read it?

For the books you are letting go, express gratitude for the joy they once brought into your life and pass them on so other people can enjoy them.

As with clothes, you never know how much they will be worth if you try to sell them, but I always give it a shot. If you can’t make any money from them, consider donating to libraries or schools. There are also many organizations that will take used books, like Books Through Bars and Operation Paperback, which provide books to prisons, troops and hospitals.

The last place you should send your books to is recycling, and if you do, remember that paperbacks can be recycled whole, but make sure to remove the cover on hardcover books, as they often contain non-recyclable materials. Books with water damage can’t be recycled, so you can offer it to artists working with papier-mâché or similar mediums. What about magazines? Many hospitals, nursing homes, retirement communities and prisons will take your donations.

And just like that you are done with one more category. Before putting your books back in their space, do a deep clean of the area and have fun decorating. You might choose to keep them all together or separate subcategories around the home. However you choose to do this, make sure it’s visible, accessible and brings you joy!

See you tomorrow, when we will take care of your papers.


How to Get Organized: A 3-Day Series

Get Organized: Clothes


For more information about Fernanda’s work, visit or find her on Instagram @fernandasckirk.

Categories: Books, Interiors