5 Questions to Help Get Rid of Books

Recently I got rid of an entire trash bag full of books to donate. Anyone who has ever stepped foot into my bedroom at home knows that this is a surprising feat because I rarely part ways with books. Books are something I’m usually very sentimental about, which makes it hard to get rid of them when there are so many stories behind them all. But with the help of these five questions, I finally purged my bookshelf! Like I’ve been saying I would do for so long! 

Question 1: Have you read it?

Ah yes, we’ll start off with the easier question to answer. Of course, this does come with two branches of further questions. If you have read it, did you enjoy it? If you didn’t enjoy it, then you’re likely next step is to throw it in the donate bag. If you did enjoy it, move onto the other questions. If you haven’t read it, why not? Are you going to read it? If you have no plans whatsoever to read it, then your next course of action is simple: toss it in the donate bag.

Question 2: Will you read it again?

For those who don’t often reread books, this may seem like a bit of an irrelevant question; however, as someone who loves rereading books, this question is essential. To me, the sign of an excellent book is the desire to read it again at some point in the future. If I don’t want to reread a book, is it really worth keeping it on my shelf?

Question 3: Where did you get it?

If you’re a sentimental bookworm like myself, then you know that where you got a book can matter just as much as the actual book itself. Books that I was given by friends, that I bought while traveling, or that remind me of specific scenarios or times in my life are very unlikely to find themselves tossed in the donate bag.

Question 4: Where could you find it again?

This question is an attempt to challenge my pack-rat ways. Let’s say there’s a book that I liked but won’t read again, but for some reason I’m clinging on to. Where could I go to read it again? Would I have to buy a new copy, or is it likely that a local library would have it or that I could easily buy it used for cheap online? If it’s easily accessible, then chances are that it doesn’t need to be kept on my bookshelf.

Question 5: When was the last time you thought about this book?

I like saving this question for when I know that I should get rid of a book from a logical standpoint, but can’t seem to part with it emotionally for some reason. If I haven’t thought about this book in months or even more than a year, then chances are that whatever emotions I’m feeling in this moment won’t last. Basically, if I haven’t missed this book already, then I probably won’t miss it much in the future.

42 thoughts on “5 Questions to Help Get Rid of Books

  1. I love this! These are basically the same questions I ask myself. The biggest one is definitely whether I enjoyed it and whether I would read it again (even if I never actually DO read it again, or if I take 15 years to read it again, do I think it’s good enough I can IMAGINE reading it again?). And then, yes, is it sentimental or have some other value besides the actual content of the book that would be a good reason to keep it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a good point–it’s more about whether or not I like it enough TO read it again rather than how soon I actually end up rereading it. Glad you enjoyed this!


  2. Suuuch a good post. Parting with books is something I struggle with as well. Especially ones I’ve had for years. It’s the reason why I’m rereading my library – if I’ve read it and gave it less than 4 stars, then I better have an excellent reason for holding on to it.

    Also? Super proud you were able to unhaul so many. All the high fives!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! 🙂 Rereading through your library is a great strategy for weeding out books. It’s difficult going off of just memory of reading a book, especially when it was a long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Precisely. The downside is, it takes a lot of time. With responsibilities to ARCs I don’t think I’ve picked up an actual book I’ve bought for pleasure in MONTHS. Not complaining 😁 but it does slow things down.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Um.

        About 700 now.

        But I’ve read through 80 total and donated 31 of those so… very slow progress? 🤣 I keep buying secondhand books I’ve borrowed as audiobooks from the library and liked.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. These are great questions. And while most times I am good about donating books I don’t plan to read again, I also like the thought of a giant library and some books are just perfect for that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I feel the same way, I often think about how lovely it would be to have a sprawling library some day. But my tiny bedroom just can’t accommodate that at the moment haha. Hopefully in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is actually so very helpful, Holly!! Thank you so much for this. I’ve been thinking about doing a little spring cleaning, but I’m so, so sentimental when it comes to books, it’s so hard to part with them ahah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh that’s always my problem, too! I’m such a sentimental person… but I’ve been meaning to go through all of my books for so long that I think I mentally prepared myself for it haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post is going to be so helpful for when I cull my books, which my boyfriend has been begging me to do for forever because we’re running out of shelf space for both of us. I especially like your questions of how accessible the book is and when the last time you thought about it was. I think those will be super helpful for my unread books shelf

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad this post is helpful!! Those are some of my favorite questions as well–I feel like the rereading ones are pretty common, but the others make you really think about your relation to the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great list! This might work as a flowchart too. I’ve been wanting to pare down my book collection for so long but it’s hard to know where to start, and I have such a difficult time parting with books. These questions get down to the simplicity and logic of whether to keep or not to keep.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! I mostly use #2 to decide whether or not to keep a book. Sometimes I’ll unhaul unread books, but I tend to keep them to give them an honest try. If a book is not for me or I don’t think I’ll read it again, it goes on the donate pile. I’ve got 5 bags of books ready to be donated to a local school! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Inge! And that’s awesome that you’ve already put aside so many books to donate! With unread books I’ll usually get rid of them if I’ve owned them for several years and haven’t touched them, or even thought about them. But other than that I usually give them a try 🙂


  8. great questions! I don’t usually re-read books, because I read very slowly and always want to get my hands on new things haha so numbers 1 and 5 are the ones I usually use! I’ve recently cleaned my bookshelves and gotten rid of books, so I’m not planning on decluttering books any time soon again, but next time I’ll try and use the other questions to see how much the number decreases o:

    Liked by 1 person

  9. After a long time I saw this post come back, and a good thing it is too! I am always happy to be in the amidst book lovers. About this book, The Great Gatsby, I presented it to my nephew who graduated with top grades. Also of the other books, sometimes we have to give away some to accommodate new ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good questions! I’ve become more selective in the books I buy in hardback (unless I get them for cheap at a used book sale or something). If I buy them on Kindle, I don’t have to worry about getting rid of them! But I have so many books that I need to do something with some of them. That’s not even counting the books in my garage! I really should go through those at some point. I don’t need to keep them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s a great point about Kindles–although I find that I really miss the feeling of paper books when I read ebooks, so I guess there are pros and cons either way. Best of luck going through all of your books! 🙂


  11. I love these questions! It’s always so hard for me to get rid of books, and I also recently got rid of a huge pile of them. I even brought a few out to show to my sister so she could argue against keeping them to help, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

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