It's spring - book sale time at many libraries, and the time when many well-intentioned people bring their old books to libraries so they don't physically have to do that gut-wrenching thing and throw them in the trash themselves. Yes, I just let a secret slip - sometimes, libraries throw out books.
Before I go furthur, I feel obligated to say that, OF COURSE, do these things first:
If you love the book and want to re-read it or it has HUGE sentimental value, keep it.
If you love or like the book but won't re-read it, share or donate it.
If you hated the book but think someone else could like it, share or donate it.
If you loved, liked or hated the book, it's in great condition but you don't want it cluttering up your life, share it or donate it.
Regardless of your love for it, if the book is in bad condition, moldy, smelly or falling apart, throw it out.
If someone gave you the book and you feel like you need to hang on to it for that reason, share or donate it. They won't know and it will help de-clutter your life.
Contrary to what you might think, most librarians I know are NOT in love with all BOOKS. Really. Yes, we may love the ideas, the words, the covers, the smell. We may collect some for a variety of personal reasons just like you. For the average person, just because a book is a book, it does not make it a treasure to hold on to for a lifetime. Sure, some are. But that 10th reprinting of a James Patterson best-seller in paperback from 1999? Nope. That thousand-pound cookbook from 1954 that even you did not make a single recipe from? Nope. That copy of The Giving Tree that your old college roommate gave to you but you never really liked it anyway? Nope. Obviously I am not speaking to people in third world countries or a child in a homeless shelter whose books may be her lifeline. These people are why we donate books.
I have maybe six bookshelves in my house, and after I write this, I'm going to purge those and bring the good ones to the library book sale. I'm getting rid of the old hiking trails books that we really don't use anymore, the parenting books we have aged out of, and some gifty books that I haven't looked at since they were gifted. I'm keeping a few books my mother-in-law passed on to me for that day when I'm desperate for a book to take in the car, craft books on writing, a book that a friend wrote and included me in the dedication, and two boxes of children's books in the basement that were my kids' favorites. Everything else I can get at the library or borrow or buy if needed. Then go through the process again.
Librarians serve, among other reasons, to give you access to books and information. Our job is not to save every book in the world from destruction, nor is it yours. Re-read the rules at the top.
What I am saying is, I GIVE YOU PERMISSION not to have to hold on to every book that has crossed your path.
DON'T FEEL GUILTY.
DE-CLUTTER, DONATE and DO yourself and the world a favor.
"Sharing education, sharing a book...that's what
changes the world." - Brad Meltzer
Besides your local library, here are some places you can contact to possibly donate your books:
How to Donate Books to Prisons - Book Riot