Running Out of Bookshelves

I’m no big fan of shopping. Crowded shopping streets; making my way through crowded shops; standing in an initially fast moving line that turns into a living hell because the person being served is arguing about an imagined discount; and perhaps worst of all, coming home and realizing I forgot to buy what I originally went out for! But going out to buy books is a definite exception.

For the first time I can relate to all the people out there who face the problem of needing more closet space because I’m running out of bookshelves. My shelves can’t handle any more books (seriously, they’re caving in) nor can my living room handle any more bookshelves. But I still have piles of books that have to go somewhere.

The System
Now we have something of a system. The impressive and sophisticated (looking) books have a prominent spot on the top shelves. Books that were a good read and might be read again or suggested to others are on the more eye-level shelves (okay, they are on eye-level for me). On the bottom shelves are books that are okay-ish but not necessarily mind-blowing.

Once in a while some books shift from a shelf (except for the prominent books on the top shelf). Occasionally we move books from a low shelf to the bookshelves in the bedroom. Here we keep the books that are not really worth having on display.

More Books than Shelves
The problem we’re facing right now is that we’ve got more books heading to the bedroom (even though we’ve already began double banking shelves), but there’s no more shelf space in the bedroom either. That leads to the following question: what to do with the books?

I thought of three things:

  • Throw them away
  • Sell them to second hand bookstores
  • Give them away

It is very unlikely I’ll ever be able to throw a book out. Disposing of them at a second hand shop is somehow not something I can do. I tried it once but I left the shop with the books still safely in my bag and in the company of some new ones.

I don’t mind giving them away to others, though it does depend on how I acquired the book. For example, I won’t be able to give away a book that I got as a present even if I really don’t like it. It’ll be sitting on the shelf of my bedroom bookcase until time turns it into dust.

What do you do with your unwanted books?



24 thoughts on “Running Out of Bookshelves

  1. What do I do with my unwanted books? Unwanted. Unwanted. No, sorry, this doesn’t seem to be a word in my vocabulary, not when it comes to books. Personal friends, you see.

    1. Really? That’s incredible 🙂 Unfortunately, I do have some books I’ve got mixed feelings about. I either received them as a present once or had to read them for one of my classes. And it does happen sometimes, that I bought a book that had a lot of potential, but turned out to be not as good as I had expected. Perhaps unwanted was a rather strong and negative word 🙂

  2. I hoarded my books until I could hoard no more. I have given them away to other book lovers, donated them, or sold them at used book stores. Good luck finding a way to either keep all your books or send them on their way. 🙂

  3. I have the exact same problem (except I’ve graduated to triple banking and stacking on top 🙂 ). I recently did a pretty thorough weed trying to be honest with myself about what I was ACTUALLY going to read (especially if I also had an eBook copy), but even this barely made a dent. I know it can be hard to sell to second hand stores (especially for the paltry amount you get back), but this is where so many of my books came from that to me I feel a little good about giving back, about giving someone else the opportunity to get something cheap and interesting.

    1. Triple banking, wow, no my book cases aren’t deep enough to allow that stacking on top, however, is something we end up doing a lot. Yes, I think it will be inevitable going to the second shop to sell some of my books, that is, if they want it, because most of the time they refer to the bins in the alley behind the shop. :S

  4. Some I donate to our local annual book sale, especially since in France its not that there is an abundance of outlets for English language books, but I also save the best of my give-aways for a little village library exchange in Cabrieres d’Aigues that happens once a year, basically the number of books you bring is the number you can leave with, a fabulous concept! Tea and cake go down well, as do wonderful conversations with other readers whom I rarely get to meet in person.

    I lend books and never ever expect them back, and my absolute favourite books I just repurchase, because I prefer that they are being shared and read and passed on than that their delights are kept on my shelf gathering dust. That said, I’m not doing very well at the moment as the shelves are heaving and I am only saved by the fact I now have a kindle so I should in principle be accumulating less, but since writing a blog, it is true I do seem to be reading even more and books keep coming at me!

    1. That’s a wonderful concept indeed 🙂 I wonder if the number of actual books will be going down in time now that you have a kindle. If so let me know, I might settle for an e-reader too 🙂

  5. I can’t part with books ever. I have 4 bookcases most doubleshelved and I still buy more books. The only thing that slows the amount of books coming into my house is the local library (I can rent a book and not buy it unless I love it) and my Ipad (I can download a 500 page tome). Good luck!

    1. Maybe I should go and join the library again. I suppose the library of The Hague should have plenty of choice. I’ve been thinking about it for a while so I should just do it 🙂 First thing after returning from my holidays

  6. I recently gave a huge pile to a family who had lost all their possessions in a house fire. It felt great. I take a few each month to a book exchange and swap them for others. My dad, when he moved house, had to get rid of a third of his books. The previous move had required a separate moving van just for the books. He gave his to a local library which started the English book section of that library – they had to get more book cases in to accommodate them.

    1. I never thought about donating my books to a library I’ll have to check if they’ll accept. If they do it would be a wonderful way of creating more space on my own shelves. Thanks 🙂

  7. Our library has a sale shelf. Books (hardback or paper) are 25 cents each or five for one dollar. I recently gave two huge boxes to the library since they didn’t sell in our yardsale. Unfortunately, other folks have donated books that I have not read and deem them worthwhile. So I end up buying more. I wouldn’t think of throwing a book away. Sacrilege!

  8. I completely understand your problem – too many books, not enough space! At some point, I do give my books away, but other alternatives I’ve done in the past: create night tables out of books (this was when I was a college student), and, more recently, I got rid of an armchair and replaced it with a new bookshelf (very exciting). Hope you find a solution to your problem… in the meantime, happy reading!

    1. Thanks!

      I used to do that too. Somehow I stopped turning books into night tables as soon as my student days were over. Probably because after I moved my night tables could actually be used as night tables instead of kitchen cabinets. I like the idea mentioned by Toddfoley and turn books into shelves but most likely I’ll end up buying more book cases and pass books on to others interested in them.

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