How To Declutter Books and Organize Your Shelves

Quick and practical tips to letting go, decluttering, and organizing your bookshelves!

The Ultimate Guide to Declutter Books

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of clutter on your bookshelves?  Do you want to start book decluttering, finally get organized, and make space in your home for what matters most?  When you decide to declutter books, start downsizing, and organize your bookshelves, it can seem daunting.  But, with a few helpful tips and tricks, it doesn’t have to be!

If you are anything like me, your bookshelves are overflowing, and you have stacks of books strewn across the floor.  There is no room for new books to be added, and there are books you have not seen in years.  You might be going through a reading slump or experiencing what to read next paralysis.  This may be because there are too many options, and it might be time to purge your bookshelves.

So how do you start book decluttering?  What books should you keep or let go of?  We will talk about how to purge your bookshelves, declutter books, and organize them.  We’ll also cover organizing the space in your home where you keep your books so that it becomes a pleasant place for you to read or browse through when looking for a new book to read next or add to your collection.

How To Declutter Books and Organize Your Shelves

Declutter Books

The first step is to take everything off your bookshelves and lay them out on the floor.

Taking the books off your shelves will give you a good idea of how many books you actually have and what condition they are in.  It might also inspire you to read some of those books collecting dust for years.

Sorting your books

Once you know how many books you own and you’ve started to think about which ones you want to keep, the next step is sorting your books.  First, start sorting them into categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc.  You can also group them by genre or author.  Also, separate those books that have sentimental value or are collectibles — these books will not be on the chopping block.

Now it’s time to purge your book collection!

Start with the category or genres you are least attached to or don’t read as often.  For example, if I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, I would start by getting rid of those books.

When deciding what books to keep and let go of, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I read this book?  If you haven’t read it in over two to three years, chances are you’re not going to.
  • Do I love this book?  If you don’t love it, why keep it?
  • Am I likely to reread this book?  If the answer is no, then get rid of it!
How to Start Declutter Books

To donate or recycle?

Books that are in good condition but you don’t plan on reading again can be donated to your local library or secondhand bookstore.  Books that are damaged or moldy should be thrown out or recycled.

Organizing your books

So now that we have gone through how to purge your book collection and bookshelves let’s talk about organizing.  Once you’ve decided on the books you plan to keep on your shelves or in a box somewhere else in the house (not where they are currently).  Here are five populars ways you can organize your books:

  • Organize books by color
  • Organize books by authors’ last names
  • Organize books by genres/subject matter
  • Organize books by subcategories within each genre or subject matter etc.
  • Organize books by read and unread

Organizing your book collection does not need to be complicated or time-consuming – it can be really fun.  There are so many possibilities when it comes to organizing them which means there isn’t one right way!

For more information on book organization, check out our “10 Ways To Organize Your Book Collection” article.


So there you have it – quick and practical tips to letting go, decluttering and organizing your bookshelves.  While it can seem like such a daunting task, especially if you have a lot of books on your shelves, the sooner you get started, the faster you’ll get through it.

The best part?  The space in your home where you keep your books will become a pleasant place to read or browse when looking for a new book to read next or buy new books for your collection.


How do you declutter books and organize your bookshelves?

Do you have a system or method that works for you?  Let’s talk about it in the comments.

How To Declutter Books and Organize Your Shelves

Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle

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