Tame Your Book Habit

Another pile of books, crammed onto every shelf in the bedroom, the living room, the house, boxes of books in the garage. It’s frustrating. You can’t find the book you are looking for. You trip over the pile of books by the door. The kids have books strewn across their room because they can’t fit any more into their shelves. Sound familiar? This is the scene at the homes of many of the book lovers I visit.

If this sounds like you, take control! Give your books a second life – whether in the recycle bin (gasp!), in someone else’s hands, or consciously displayed.

You will enjoy your books more if you choose which ones really deserve a space in your home or office.

Why do we love books so much?

Books represent many things to us, memories of our childhood, a favorite story that made us laugh or taught us something, an experience we want to share.
Books also represent learning and knowledge. After all, books are one of the keys that helped us get ahead, reach a goal, learn something new.

How many of us still have old school books (guilty!).  Are we really going to pull them out of the box in the garage and look up something? Yet they give us a sense of security-that knowledge is still there, in the books, if we ever need it. Somehow, we think, if we keep the book, we retain that knowledge, experience or potential (or other’s will think we do). But books are only a tool.

What to do?

There are three types of books we keep:

  • Books we use for reference (like a garden book, cookbook, business book)
  • Books we are currently reading or going to read (within reason)
  • Books we are displaying or storing (memorabilia)

Unless books are actually being used for reference or current reading, they are as much memorabilia as a set of figurines on a dresser. Recognizing that we collect and keep books as memorabilia frees us to make choices about them.

There is nothing wrong with keeping books. It is only when they begin to take over that the problems begin. If we purposefully recognize why we are keeping them, we can decide what place they have in our lives.


A book that has been read and is not going to be read again becomes a keepsake and we can consciously decide if it deserves a place in our lives. Do we want to use it for decoration? Do we really have room to store books in an attic or garage?  Is it adding anything to our lives right now, or taking away?

Having too many books for your space makes it harder to appreciate the ones you use and love. Don’t become the frustrated person tripping over piles of book.  Books are ultimately just things.  They are only as powerful and meaningful as we make them.

Need help dealing with books or other belongings that are owning you?

Contact me at 650.654.7827