A Bookworm’s Guide to Spring Cleaning your Bookshelves


Spring is here! Which here, on the East Coast means putting away puffy winter coats, iced coffee, and spring cleaning. Spring clearing is definitely one of my favorite parts of this time of year but if you’re a bookworm who loves to hoard books like me spring cleaning your bookshelf, can definitely be a challenge!

Before you object, I just want to say that I am not here to say that there is an ideal number of books you should keep in your house in order to spark joy in your life. I’m not here to call you out on your book collecting habit, (because trust me I’m not one to judge, my own TBR is out of control) and I’m definitely not here to tell you that your beautifully curated shelf (how do you do that? Please teach me!) has to go. In fact, if you are content with your book collection, you can stop reading right now. 

If you’re still here reading this and are looking for ways to make Spring cleaning your book collection a little earlier I’m here for you! I am one of those people who would love to have a home library filled with my favorite books and a giant TBR pile on a polished floor-to-ceiling shelf with a rolling ladder. Sigh, a girl can dream. Until that day comes however sometimes practical constraints require the occasional bookshelf purge. 

Over the years, I’ve moved quite a few times and learned a thing or two about spring clearing my books. As a result, I’ve begun to devise a method or rather a set of questions I ask myself when I am Spring cleaning my bookshelves that can help me determine whether or not to keep a book or find it a new home. If you too are thinking about giving your shelf a Spring cleaning, I’m here to share my secret process, who knows, this method might work for you too!

First, choose a level (one, two, or three) depending on how deep a Spring Clean you think you’ll need. Next, go through each book and ask yourself each question about that book, if the answer to any of the questions is yes, then it goes on the keep pile, if not, it might be time to say goodbye. 

Level One: A Light Dusting

These are good questions to ask yourself if you are looking to spruce up your TBR and your bookshelves but are not too concerned about getting rid of a ton of books. If you answer yes to any of the questions below about a book when going through your shelves, you know it’s a keeper! 

  • Am I still somewhat interested enough in reading this book if I haven’t already?
  • Did I read and like this book?
  • Is this part of a series I’d like to continue? 
Level Two: A Good Scrub

If you are looking to make a more substantive dent in your bookshelves or you want to keep a more curated collection of books that is meaningful to you, this level is for you. These questions can help get to the heart of the question of whether each book is a meaningful part of your collection or not. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you know the book has earned its spot on your shelf! 

  • Does this book hold significance for me?
  • Do I have good memories of or about this book?
  • Is this a book I will re-read or reference in the future?
  • Am I planning on reading this book within the next year or two?
Level Three: Heavy Duty Cleaning

This is the hardest level, and one that works if you are truly looking to drastically reduce your bookish pile to just the essentials. These questions can really help you hone in on which books are truly your BAEs. You know these books are your favorites if you answer yes to the following questions: 

  • If I could only keep a boxful of books would this book have a spot in that box?
  • Do I feel excited to read this book right now?
  • If I lost this book, would I pay to re-acquire it?

You did it! The hard part is over. Behold your squeaky-clean shelf! Hopefully this method will help make your bookish Spring cleaning a little easier. This is definitely not the only way to go about Spring cleaning your book collection, there are plenty of organizing guides and philosophies out there that can work for you depending on your own personal preferences (the Mari Kondo method is a personal favorite of mine). This is simply the method I’ve developed over the years. You can definitely change up the question in each category to fit your own preference, use different levels for different bookshelves or adapt the method in other ways that work for you. Do YOU have a Spring Cleaning method for your books? Let me know in the comments below!


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1 thought on “A Bookworm’s Guide to Spring Cleaning your Bookshelves”

  1. I hear you and definitely need to reduce my books. However, there are too many to go through and too many that are part of collections. Sadly ?! I was in charge of sorting book donations at our library when I worked there. As a result, I acquired many books and found any new authors I was interested in. Even though I no longer am a librarian, I am still acquiring books. I do give them away, but I still have enough to read until I am 150, even if I do not acquire more. I just sent 4 boxes to a prison project and hadn’t read half of them. I regularly send books to the local VA hospital.
    Your article is a push I need to get more serious about weeding my book garden. It is just hard to part with such “good friends.”

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