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How to Declutter Books with the KonMari Method

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According to Marie Kondo, books are one of the three things that people have the hardest time letting go. If you are a book person who wants to declutter books, but just aren’t sure where to begin this post is for you! Let’s go over how to declutter books using the KonMari method.

Decluttering books with the KonMari method

Do you know how there are “people”?

Weird question, I know right? Stay with me here….there are people; cat people, dog people, exercise people, funny people, even people people!

For a long time, I was a book people…I mean book person 😉

That’s why I know how hard it can be to let go of books. After all, to book people, books are like old friends. They speak to us, they light our imaginations on fire, they are there to comfort us when we are sad, lonely, or just need to escape for a while.

Eventually, however, all book people reach a point where they just have to accept that their books need to be decluttered.

After all, there is only so much space in our home and time in our day. Often book people have eyes larger than their clocks; they purchase books with all the best intentions of reading them — and then just never get around to it.

If you are a book person, today I am going to walk you through all the steps to decluttering your books using the KonMari method so you learn how to surround yourself only with those books that spark joy in your life.

A large pile of books being decluttered

 Why you should declutter books with the KonMari method

Marie Kondo’s decluttering method isn’t just a method; it’s an entire philosophy. According to Marie Kondo herself:

The approach is rooted in a single question: Does this item spark joy? Identifying what sparks joy leads to a tidy home filled only with items you cherish. It’s also a path to self-discovery, mindful living and fulfillment.

That’s what makes the KonMari method so special.

You see, whereas most other minimalist philosophies focus on the getting rid of part, the KonMari Method is all about mindfully choosing to keep things that spark joy.

By focusing on what to keep rather than on what to discard, the process becomes positive and empowering. You might even experience grand moments of self-discovery while tidying up!

(Indeed, it’s not called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for nothing; it has literally changed my life and helped me move on after decades of grief. Behold! One book I will never get rid of 😉 )

 How to declutter books using the KonMari method

If you haven’t read the book (and you really should), you might find it beneficial to read this complete guide to the KonMari method, which lists out her method in more detail.

If you feel like you are ready to tackle books, here are the steps to decluttering your books using the KonMari method.

 Step 1: Gather and label boxes

Save yourself time and mess and have a few boxes laying around for the books you intend to “discard”.

Discard could mean you plan on selling them, donating them, whatever the option just make sure to have some boxes handy.

Label boxes:

  • Keep
  • Sell
  • Donate
  • Recycle

Step 2: Remove all books and place them on the floor

It may seem like a lot of work, but Marie Kondo insists that you should take out all books for sorting and place them on the floor.

By her reasoning, books sitting on shelves are “dormant”; by removing your books from their shelves you awaken them from hibernation and are ready to provide them with your full attention.

If you truly have too many books to lay on the floor all at once, you may separate them into categories as such:

  • General (books read for pleasure)
  • Practical (cookbooks, reference books, etc)
  • Visual (art, photography, etc)
  • Magazines
Decluttering books guide with KonMari method
Almost all my books — I did get rid of some textbooks already.

 Step 3: Take each book in your hand and see if it sparks joy

One by one, take each book into your hand and see if it sparks pleasure. Do you feel a thrill of joy when you lay your hands upon the book?

If so, that book is a keeper. If not, time to let it go.

Marie Kondo notes it is important that you don’t actually start reading the book, as that might cloud your judgment. Instead, ask yourself if that book makes you feel something — if that book has a place in your heart?

If it has a place in your life, it has a place on your shelf!

Holding a book to see if it sparks joy KonMari-style
Billy Collins is a keeper <3

 Step 4: Unread books count too

Don’t think that books you haven’t read are exempt from this decluttering. Be honest, how long have those books been sitting around, unread?

I can say truthfully I have owned books for YEARS and never touched them once.

I also had not one, but TWO giant plastic bins filled with old textbooks that had not been opened in 10 years.

If you haven’t read a book by now, likely you will never get around to doing so.

Kondo has this to say about unread books:

If you missed your chance to read a particular book, even if it was recommended to you or you have been intending to read for ages, this is your chance to let it go. You may have wanted to read it when you bouught it, but if you haven’t read it by now, the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it.

Wow, I love that amazing and validating advice! The acknowledgment that even books that have not been read have something to teach you. For whatever reason, despite your intentions, you never read those books — AND THAT’S OKAY!

It’s better to fill your shelves with books you treasure and adore than unloved books that collect dust.

Books decluttered using the KonMari method
My beloved books.

  Step 5: Discard and organize

Once you have gone through all of your books it’s time to discard the ones you no longer feel have a place in your life and return those few that you have chosen to their positions of honor, neatly upon their shelves.

Don’t feel sad for discarded books. They will always have a place in your heart and now you are free to send them on to bring joy to someone else!

If you are more than a little sentimental, you might find it beneficial to wish your books a little “Thank you”  and “goodbye” before sending them on their way.

A lot of people find this part of the KonMari method a little silly, but I love it! It really feels like you honor the place they had in your life and set them and yourself free at the same time, to move on to better and more joyful things!

A bookshelf declutter with KonMari method

* Update: you can read all my other posts about the KonMari method, including:

Ways to get rid of books after decluttering

Obviously, you are going to have a lot of books – and other stuff — to get rid of if you continue with the KonMari method.

Here are some options on how to discard your items with love:

Wait! Sign up now to get a FREE 5-page KonMari checklist and make sure you don’t forget a single item!

All finished decluttering books!

Now you know all the steps to take to declutter books with the KonMari method and maybe bring a little bit more peace, joy, and order into your life.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below for me! Feel free to tune in to Squirrel of a Feather periodically to get updates on my own KonMari journey and keep me updated on YOUR journey as well. 🙂

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Decluttering books with the KonMari method infographic

11 Comments

  1. I have started weeding out books in our house too and really don’t buy many anymore. I just keep reminding myself we can get whatever we need through the library. Unless it’s a favorite to read over and over and over again I have been donating them as soon as we’re finished with them.

    1. Yes! The library is a fantastic resource…and it’s free! My boys just need to be a little older to appreciate and “care” for library books!

  2. I have just decided to Konmari my bedroom because I am struggling with the clutter, I was looking at ways to organize my draws and I found your posts on Pinterest. Thank you so much for posting these they have really helped me understand the Mari Kondo method.

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