The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up | Decluttering & Selling Books

I mentioned recently how I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and, although it took me a while to get into it, once the author, Marie Kondo, got down to the actual decluttering process, I ate it up!  In fact, I’m rereading it a second time to soak up all the bits I might have missed by reading it so quickly.  It inspired me immediately to start decluttering our own home and I’m someone who already thinks I have a pretty good handle on organization.
Since reading the book, I tackled our linen closet, kitchen drawers, and also got a big start on our Playroom (which I plan to show you soon).  One huge area that I had never given much thought to decluttering or tidying was the books, and we have what feels like a million.  We are big book lovers over here and, honestly, taking a trip to the bookstore is one of our favorite things to do.
Kondo recommends beginning by “removing every book from your shelves and putting them on the floor.”  We have books in nearly every room of our house, starting with the floor to ceiling bookshelves in our hallway, to the living room, kitchen, my office, our bedroom, James’ room, the playroom, and my husband’s office.  But, she says, “you cannot judge whether or not a book really grabs you when it’s still on the shelf . . . books that have been left untouched on the shelf for a long time are dormant or invisible.” I definitely agree with that, and think that had I not removed all the books from their current spaces, I wouldn’t have discarded nearly as many.

One of the parts of what made Kondo’s tidying up method work for me is you go about the process of decluttering by deciding what to keep, as opposed to deciding what to get rid of.  For me, it really is a different way of thinking.
So, once you have your books on the floor, you pick up each individual book and ask yourself whether or not it sparks joy or gives you a thrill of pressure when you touch it.  She asks you to envision having a bookshelf filled only with books you really love.  Those are the ones to keep.
This passage in the book really helped me part with books that no longer sparked joy:  When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life.  You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role.  By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order.  In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure.  To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. . . . Let them go, with gratitude.  Not only you, but your things as well, will feel car and refreshed when you are done tidying. 
The “giving away things with gratitude” part seemed to give me permission to part with things I might have kept out of obligation or would otherwise have felt guilty about letting go.
I ended up making three trips (that’s 3 trunkfuls of books) to Half Price Books to sell the books I no longer loved or had already thanked for coming into my life.  This was a long process, but in the end so worth it!  Not only did it free up so much space in our home and breathe new life into our home, I actually made $175 on my books!


Luckily, they have a small shopping cart I could load the books into so I didn’t have to make so many trips from the car.  Books are heavy!

Half Price books pays cash for books (and movies, music, games, consoles, and e-readers).  They pay higher prices for recent best-sellers, but are also interested in good books of all kinds.  The primary factors considered when buying used merchandise are condition and supply and demand.  Don’t forget to bring your valid photo ID for payment.


The hard part about selling your books back is waiting in the store for them to calculate their value.  I could have easily spent all my money on more books, but I resisted!  And of course, my son wanted to take something home too, but I used the trip to explain that we were there to sell our books and we could read the ones we loved and already had at home.  He’s also checking out books from his school library, so he’s getting to read a new book every week.
Depending on how busy the store is, it can take about 30 minutes or so to sell your books.  If they aren’t interested in purchasing your books, they will donate them to nonprofit agencies around the world and strive to recycle what they can’t donate so they don’t end up in a landfill (and you don’t have to cart them back home).
So funny that I saw the book that prompted my sales on display at the store.  I actually bought the kindle edition though.
If you don’t have a retail store that will buy books from you, check out your local library or school as those places often accept gently used books as donations.  Other places that accept book donations are Salvation Army, Goodwill, and thrift stores.
Do you have tons of “dormant” books sitting on your shelves too?  It can feel like a big, daunting task to start the decluttering process, but it really is worth it.  It took me about two weeks from start to finish (removing all the books, deciding what to keep, three trips to Half Price books to sell, then sorting the books and placing them back where they belong).
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Decluttering the BOOKS
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 and I’ll show you the result of our newly tidied up spaces!  We (and our beloved books) are so happy with the outcome!
For more posts on how we keep our home organized and running smoothly, check out my ORGANIZE tab at the top of my blog.  Here’s to a productive week!
keep in touch! 

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Meet Megan

Hi! I’m Megan, mom to a thoughtful teenager and spunky young girl. We call Houston home and recently moved into our dream home. I traded my lawyer hat to become a full-time blogger in 2010. I love sharing my passion for affordable fashion, home decor, organization, & fitness to help inspire you to take care of you!


  1. We took all of the books off our library/living room shelves last year and went through them. We gave away tons. Unless they meant something to us, or even better…we would read again, they went!

  2. I'm surprised you made so much money at Half Priced Books. I recently did a similar decluttering, and I took in two laundry baskets worth of books, plus more than 150 DVDs. Most items were more than five years old (bought before we had kids), but most were popular items (blockbuster movies and best-selling hardback books). I got $25 for the books and $75 for the DVDs. I'm glad to clear out the clutter, but knowing I got less than $0.50 per item (when I had probably paid at least $20 per DVD and $15 per book) made me sad. The next time I get rid of items, I will take them to a retirement home, a place for kids or some kind of charity where other people can enjoy my old items for free.

  3. Love to read too. I have switched though to my public library online digital library so I can get many of my books electronically now and for free. It's not the same as feeling the book and smelling the paper but I have had to sell and donate so many books over the years that I felt I was being wasteful. The electronic format is really more convenient and I am slowly getting used to not having the actual hardcopy in my hands

  4. I still have too many books but I go through them once a year and donate the ones I declutter to my local library for their book sale.

    My rule of thumb is to buy only non-fiction books like home repair, cookbooks and travel guides. For fiction and non-fiction biographies and histories, I get them from my local library so that I can read them once and then give them back to the library.

    I don't have a Kindle and haven't gotten into digital books yet but I might try them again now that the iPad I have now is much lighter than my old one.

  5. I finished my clothes and now the daunting task of going through the books is calling my name. I am both excited and nervous about going through all of these categories in Kondo's book. Thanks for your inspiration that it can be done!

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