Clear Out Old Books With This Triage System

Clear Out Old Books With This Triage System

If you’re the type to keep a lot of books around, you know they end up often being more of a pain to find space for than they’re worth. Over at Root Simple, they offer up a simple triage method to help clean out the clutter from your bookshelf so you’re left with books you actually want.

Picture: Casey Fleser/Flickr

When you’re clearing out your old books, it’s tough to decide what’s worth keeping around and what’s not. Root Simple’s method is pretty straight-forward:

The book was released to the universe if:

  • I had read it and absorbed the information
  • The library has a copy
  • It does not give me joy
  • I don’t think I’ll ever read it
  • My interests have changed
  • I read part but don’t think I’ll read the rest

I kept the book if:

  • It’s a volume I refer to for reference on a regular basis
  • It gives me joy
  • It’s especially beautiful as an object (only one or two books actually ended up in this category — I’m not a book collector)
  • I really intend to read it
  • I want to re-read it

It’s a pretty simple system, and it could probably be modified slightly to cover other media that might be wasting space on your shelves (or hard drives). Head over to Root Simple for the full post.

Everything Must Go Part II: Books [Root Simple]


  • Keep the book if: it was signed by the author, or is in some way a valuable collector’s edition.

  • Buy a bigger bookshelf.

    Books are like photographs, they’re ornaments. Don’t throw them away. If you must get rid of them, lend them to your friends.

    Don’t do it for yourself, do it for your children – there’s a very strong positive correlation between children’s intelligence, and the amount of books their parents have in the house. Sure, it might not be a causal link – but why risk it? (Levitt, S. and Dubner, S. 2005. Freakonomics.)

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