Truism: It’s easier to prune someone else’s books than your own.
How do I know this? My husband recently retired. For part of our professional careers we shared a job so we have many books and reference materials that have relevance to both of us. So… when Jim was clearing out his office of books he asked if I wanted to keep any. It was relatively easy to say “No” to almost all of them. BUT, this didn’t absolve me from the task of finding good homes for his books.

My pruning process consisted of:
1. Categorize the books to be donated into types such as spirituality, family ministry, social justice, peacemaking, misc.
2. Find people who might be interested in these types of books.
SOLUTION: I took books to several upcoming meetings with friends and gave away about 10.
3. Find places that take used books
SOLUTION #1: I donated a large box of books to our Parish library plus an empty bookcase to put them in.
SOLUTION #2: Take miscellaneous used books to a local Half Price Book Store. I hoped to make a small profit from this. I did – I got 28 cents. At least they didn’t go into a landfill.
SOLUTION #3: Take miscellaneous used books to the local public library. I didn’t do this but it may have been a better use of my time than the Half Price store.

14 empty 3-ring binders

4. Bookcase related supplies: I found 14 empty 3-ring binders originally intended to hold workshop materials.
SOLUTION: The Cinti. Recycling and Reuse Hub happily took these to distribute to schools.
5. Beyond Jim’s books: This prompted me to consider all the other books we have in our home. Should I also prune them? This task felt daunting since we have 10 bookcases full of books. Pruning these remaining joint and personal bookcases will be much harder. This is more than I want to tackle right now.
SOLUTION: For sanity’s sake, Delay.
Copies of books I’ve written: I’ve written 5 books and one of the publishers sent me several boxes of my books that they are no longer printing. These are currently stored in boxes in our basement.
SOLUTION: I recently took a bunch of my books to a talk I was giving about marriage and family life. I offered them for half price. (Sold about 10). I’m willing to extend this offer to others plus shipping.
7. Additional Resource: 20 Places to Donate Used books by Joshua Becker (includes many of the usual places plus a few creative ones you may not have thought of)

The Bigger Question
Why save ANY paper books when the internet and public libraries exist?
I will explore this more deeply when I have the courage and credibility having tackled my remaining 10 bookcases. My short answer is to keep:
1. Books that are frequently re-used – for example cookbooks and books to re-read to children/grandchildren)
2. Personalized Books – such as personal journals or anything with personal notes or memories

What criteria would you use?