Trunkroom Channel English

How to change your mind when you really want to get rid of a book but just can't bring yourself to make the call

Last time, I introduced the top three problems in organizing bookcases and the solutions for these problems. This time, I will dig a little deeper into the problem of not being able to get rid of a book.

You want to get rid of a book, but when it comes right down to it, you hesitate. You find yourself hemming and hawing at times, saying things like, “I can’t get rid of that one. Oh, and that one—yes, I might need that one after all.” This time I will introduce some ways to change your mind when you know in your head that you should get rid of a book but your heart won’t follow along.

1.You might read it again someday

This is the most common reason for being unable to get rid of a book. Even as you go to get rid of the book, as you reread a bit of it, sure enough, you hang onto it, and you end up putting it back on the bookshelf.
But how many books have you actually reread? I think nearly none is the truth of the matter. But if you have an alternative plan in mind when you need it—when you still feel uneasy about getting rid of the book that you aren’t in fact going to reread—then you can manage to get rid of it.
You can find the book at the library, for example. Or, you can buy it at a used bookstore. Conveniently, these days a great many used books are available to buy via the Internet.
This may seem wasteful at first glance, but it is far more economical than continuing to pay rent for keeping books that you don’t read. The space that you create that allows you to buy and keep new books is another benefit of getting rid of the old ones.

2.You haven’t read the book, or you aren’t finished reading it yet

I can certainly understand this reason, too. But if you still haven’t finished the book after a month’s time, there is probably another reason.
It could be that you no longer need that book. You were reading a diet book to get ready for a trip with a friend, for example, but before you had read much at all, the trip was over. I imagine you have had such an experience.
Then there are books that for some reason you just can’t engage and keep reading. I think everyone has the experience of buying some clothes thinking that they were just wonderful, but when you actually wear them, they don’t quite fit right somehow.
This goes for books as well—you come across a book that you unconsciously avoid because the writing style doesn't appeal to you, the layout is tiring, you can't empathize with the feelings of the main character, and so on. At times like these, don't force yourself to slog through reading the book to the end, but rather chalk it up to being a book that is not for you, and switch to searching for a book that you will enjoy.

3.You spent money to buy the book so it would be wasteful to get rid of it

A surprisingly great many people cite this as their reason. When they think of how much they paid for the book, they can't seem to part with it. I can certainly appreciate this feeling, but on the contrary, it is not such a terrible waste.
There are a lot of books that are certainly not cheap—such as certification test prep books—but the value in these books comes precisely from the use that you get out of them. If you haven’t made use of a book, you feel a bit guilty every time you see the book, you will feel bad about having spent money on it, and on top of that, the book is occupying storage space. Giving the book to someone who needs it, selling it to a used book store, and taking the money you get from the sale to buy a book that you can use—these are steps that could have merit for you.

What did you think? I hope that these points are useful for reference when you can’t quite decide what to do with your books. This is not to say that you have to get rid of every book that you have read once. I certainly think that you should keep and cherish the books that you need and love. On the other hand, you should bear in mind that your needs and preferences will change with different situations.

Now, cleaning up and organizing generally require decisiveness, more or less, and that is not limited to books. Among these, the timing is difficult for getting rid of books.
Unlike clothes and shoes and the like, your growth and change in body shape would not prevent you from using books. Unlike food there is no expiration date, and there is no spoilage. One characteristic of books is that, as long as you use them normally, there is no major damage, and there is no problem in leaving them on the bookshelf.

That is why personal decisiveness is vital in getting rid of books—more than in getting rid of other things. You need to decide for yourself the timing for getting rid of books by judging which books have served their purposes. Your mentality when you know in your head that you need to get rid of things but can't bring yourself to do it is the same as when you are putting off deciding things. When you come to determine firmly on your own that some books have served their purposes, whether you thoroughly enjoyed them or you were not able to use them well, your decisiveness will surely have improved.

Text: Shipshape Bookcase Institute (Hondana Sukkiri Kenkyujo), Hiroyuki Shimada

Page Top