My Big Book Purge

IMG_2013After 11 years in full-time ministry, one collects many important books. One also collects many seemingly important books. After the books sat in our storage room in the same boxes they arrived in 8 months before, I decided it was time to get them out of here. I took the books from my old office, combined them with a number of books already at our house, and piled them up.

As Marie Kondo says in her book, there are 2 simple steps to tidying up.  You pick up an item and answer two questions:

  1. Do I keep this or not
  2. Where does it go

In my great book purge, I expanded on this slightly and asked:

  1. Do I keep this or not
  2. If I don’t keep it, where does it go
  3. If I do keep it, where does it go

We are FBA sellers and have the ability to sell items on Amazon.com. Including this option, I had 4 possible destinations for my books. Sell on Amazon.com, take to Half-Price Books (and hopefully get a few bucks for them), Recycle, or keep.

Selling my books on Amazon
Books bound for Amazon

With this in mind, I went through the stack and started sorting.  And here’s where I had to get serious because the old mind tricks were hard at work.

“Well, I still might want to read that sometime!”

Many times when we sit down to process a pile of stuff to get rid of, these thoughts surface and slow us down. We end up only purging a small percentage of things and resolve to defer our decision to purge until a later time.

I knew better. These mental protests had to be captivate and ignored.

This ended up being easier than I thought. As I went through my books, I found dozens of bookmarks between the pages of these books. Many of them were not even placed past the half-way mark.

Sure, I could take the time to read any book that is important to me. However, it was clear I was more inclined to have “good intentions” to read a book than I was to actually read it.

Who was I kidding. I wasn’t going to read any of these books. I didn’t need to keep them to look back on for reference. I wasn’t going to read any a second time.

I combatted these thoughts of resistance with some truths based on reality. I can always get books from the library. I can purchase audio books that take no space and are the format in which I prefer to consume books anyway. I can always borrow books. I can always purchase a book again if I want to read it. With no more excuses, I found the freedom to get rid of these books for good.

In the end, here’s what I came up with:

  • 88 books went to Amazon (Decent profit, will sell relatively quickly)
  • 32 books went to Half Price Books where I made $25 – a great offer!
  • 27 books went to the recycle bin, which seemed wrong in some ways, but I did it anyway
  • 30 books remained

Overall, I’m very happy with the result. $25 from Half Price Books is really good compared to what we usually get. I have been steadily selling my books on Amazon for additional income. And the books I sent to the recycling bin, well, I can’t even remember which ones they were.

I now have less books taking up shelf space and storage space! It feels great. And next time I go through the exercise I will only have 30 or so books to process.

Have you ever done a book purge? How did it go?


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