Where the Wild Books Are

One of my top tips for getting more out of reading, is knowing which books you have. It’s hard to remember what’s in all those piles of books, messy bookshelves, and overstuffed e-readers. 

There are many things in this world we can’t control. That pile of books that doesn’t fit on your bookshelves anymore isn’t one of them.

Image of a shelf with books stuffed between potted plants.
Photo by Huu1ef3nh u0110u1ea1t on Pexels.com

If it seems like your books have become feral and have started breeding in your home, now is the time to take action.

This doesn’t have to be painful. Sorting out books can be fun!

Getting started

I’m an author, so I know getting started is often the hardest part. My advice is to collect all your books in one place. Everything may seem fine when you are only looking at one pile of books. The trouble is the other six piles hiding around your home. Not to mention the virtual pile on your e-reader. But ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.

Remember, no-one is judging you. We are all book lovers here. 

Don’t forget any places you only keep a small number of books. Like in a bag, on the seat of your car, or next to the bed. 

Now you have your book mountain ready, it’s time for step two.

How many is too many?

This is a question only you can answer. I recommend comparing the size of your total book pile, to the available space. By available, I do not mean the space you just took them from. I mean the space you originally allocated to books. Like your bookshelves. And part of the coffee table. Don’t forget, you should still be able to fit your coffee on there too.

If you mainly read on an e-reader, the issue of physical space might not be your primary concern. But if you rarely read physical books – and you still own some – you could free up some space for something else.

Break the task into smaller chunks

Smaller tasks are quick and easy to complete. And completing tasks gives us a sense of achievement. And a hit of my favourite hormone – dopamine. See, we’re having fun already! 

An easy way to break the task down is to use the basic reading categories: currently reading, to be read, and finished reading. You may need more categories depending on your lifestyle. Books for studying, or work reference books, for example. These types of categories are easy to sort out. You either need them – or you don’t.

The Currently Reading pile

This is not to be confused with how many books you have started. 

How many books do you read at one time? That’s how many books should be on your currently reading pile. For most of us, that’s one book. You can put this one back now. Before you move the rest into the To Be Read pile, deal with those books you started but did not finish. 

Why didn’t you finish them? What has changed since then that makes you think you will get round to reading them in the future? If you have a good answer to this – great! You can move them into the next pile. If you stopped reading because you weren’t enjoying a book, now is a good time to let go of that book.

Life is too short to read books you don’t like.

The To Be Read pile

If you are anything like me, you may need to remind yourself what’s in your To Be Read pile. Particularly if you have an e-reader or reading app. Read the book description (also known as the blurb). And if needed, you can read the first couple of pages too.

Now you just have to decide whether each book is actually going to be read all the way through. Or if it’s just taking up space. It’s OK if you’ve changed since you bought a book, and don’t feel the same about it anymore. You don’t need it sitting on your shelf making you feel guilty for not reading it. It’s time for some of your books to move on.

The Finished Reading pile

Now, you might think I’m going to tell you to get rid of most of the books in this pile. But it really depends on how much you love them. There are some books I have read several times. So the question is – are you going to read them again?

What to do with the unwanted books

Books are precious. Even if you don’t plan to read them, someone else will love them. So let’s make sure your unwanted books go to a good home. There are several options available. These include giving your books to people who need them more, and even getting paid for them. Either way, this part can make you feel good.

People you know

Most of us know someone who reads. Maybe you have a friend or relative who would like some of your books. Don’t be offended if they turn your offer down. They may be trying to get control of their feral books too!

Charity shops

Donating books is a great way to help a charity – if you have a store near you that takes them. Check first because not all charity shops sell books.


If you have any kids’ books in good condition, there may be a local school that could put them to good use.

Little free libraries

I’ve never seen a little free library in the UK. If anyone has seen one here, please let me know. I know other countries have them. 

These are great for people who can’t get to a main library on a frequent basis. They are also great for people who have a book they need to rehome.

Second hand bookstores

If you have a special book, it’s worth seeing how much you could get paid for it. Look for old books in good condition, and special edition books with cloth covers or illustrations. Anything collectors might be interested in could earn you some extra cash.


There are book-buying apps now. If you have several books to rehome, these are well worth a try. Knowing you can get something back lessens the sting of realising you made a bad buying choice. Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

Apps are good if you have kids books that you, or a family member, have outgrown. They might not be worth much individually, but if you can fill a box, you can still make some money.

Time to organise

All that’s left is to return the books you are keeping to their proper place. There are a number of ways to organise your bookshelves. But that’s a conversation for another day!

Have you passed any books on to new owners? What methods have you tried?

Enjoyed this post?

You might also like What’s on your Wish-list?

Why not check out my travel mystery series on Amazon. Or follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads or Bookbub.


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