Our nonexistent social schedules have inspired many of us to dive into books to find as escape from the safer-at-home doldrums. And whether you’ve supported your local bookseller by purchasing a title (or 10) or you’re sprinting through your library’s e-book holds list, one thing is probably true for most of us: There are a few books on our shelves that are just taking up space at this point.
I’m not talking about the tried and true, well-worn and well-loved titles you return to over and over. I’m talking about the novel you bought on a whim at the airport that one time, or the gift you read and enjoyed but don’t think you’ll ever revisit or the gift you will never read and know you won’t enjoy.
It’s time to declutter your bookshelves, readers. It’s the easiest stuck-at-home task you can tackle because you don’t actually need to clean or make anything— except a small pile of the books with which you are willing to part. You definitely need that extra space, either for your new books or the houseplant collection that has become your obsession during this period in the great indoors.
Although just about everything is closed right now, your nearest Little Free Library may still be open for “business.” These community run book boxes allow you to drop off titles or take new ones without coming into contact with humans. There may be one closer to your home than you’d expect: you can search the official map here.
If you want to donate some of your books, take a walk first to see if your Little Free Library is still housing them: Some hosts may have chosen to close them temporarily for safety’s sake, or may have switched over to using them to collect and share other items during the pandemic, like nonperishable household goods. It suck to lug your books to a box that’s full, either with books or with rolls of toilet paper and canned goods.
If your Little Free Library is open, here are my tips for using it wisely:
1. Contribute no more than five books at a time—you don’t want to overtake the collection with your stuff!
2. Don’t contribute anything you wouldn’t be proud to give to a friend (nothing with ripped covers or stains, for example).
3. Take no more than half the number of titles you contributed.
4. Tidy up the shelves before you leave.
It’s as easy as that. Declutter your shelves, take a walk, maybe get a new-to-you book along the way? It’s three hacks in one, people.