Baby Boomer Series ~ What To Do with Too Many Books

Real Estate Agent with Prudential CT Realty

Baby Boomer Series ~ What To Do With Too Many Books

What to do with too many books

In previous posts, we have dealt with the process of downsizing possessions especially if people are thinking about moving to smaller homes. In addition to cleaning out the attic and sorting through old photographs, another special category that must be addressed is what to do with book collections. Like photographs, books often have sentimental value so people may not be able to part with them.

I just spent the last two weeks going through my book collections so I know how difficult this can be. I had a full range of book types, from old paperbacks to beautifully-bound editions, from text books to coffee table books. Some I look at frequently, and some I haven’t glanced at in decades. The task of deciding what to keep and what I could part with was daunting. Here are a few ways to make the task manageable:

Sort Books into Categories 

The first step is sorting. Depending on your collection, you may come up with different categories but mine fell into these categories:

  • Textbooks
  • Paperbacks (fiction and non-fiction)
  • Children’s books
  • Reference books
  • Library-edition bound classics
  • Business books
  • Hard cover fiction
  • Coffee table books
  • Instructional books

Separate Each Category into Three Piles

For each category, I further separated them into three piles: those I wanted to keep, those I might want to keep, and those I didn’t want to keep. The smallest pile was the last one, so I knew I had to eliminate some books from the first two piles.  By asking myself a few questions, I was able to bring myself to part with many of my books:

  • Will I ever read it again?
  • Is the information still current?
  • Can someone else get more use out of it than I currently do?
  • Will I regret giving it away?

From there, I was able to really downsize my collection. I ended up keeping many of my coffee table books, some reference books, some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books, most of my travel guides, a few instructional books, and the gifts that people gave me. So I will still have all the books that I use frequently as well as enough books for a small bookcase.

What To Do with Books You Don't Want

That left hundreds of books that I wasn’t sure what to do with, but I still wanted them to go to good use. So I searched for options for the books and found several great outlets.

  • I asked friends and family to take what they might be interested in.
  • I donated books in good condition to my local library for their Friends of the Library book sale.
  • I donated many children’s books to local literacy programs.
  • I found a religious organization that ships encyclopedias and textbooks (which the library won’t accept) to other countries. I’m not sure where they will end up but I felt better that they were going somewhere.
  • I sold some textbooks on eBay. You can also sell all your books on eBay, but I decided that I didn't want to do that so I chose other options.

If you want to know whether the organization you are donating to (for books or other items) is reputable, check it out on Charity Navigator or another charity-ranking site.

Sorting through old books was another time-consuming task, but it will make your next move easier if you decide you want to downsize.

Other posts in the Baby Boomer Series:

Hey Baby Boomers! Have You Had Enough Yet?

Cleaning Out the Attic

Thinking Ahead 

Sorting Through Old Photographs


Posted by



Did you enjoy this post? Click here to subscribe to my blog by email.

   Go to my Winksite



Peggy Chirico



Peggy Chirico, REALTOR®
Serving the Greater Hartford Area
Prudential CT Realty


If you are buying or selling a home in Hartford County or Tolland County, please call me, email me, or visit my website.  I would be happy to help you with your home search or provide a market analysis for your home.

Find your dream home now!


          connect-with-me-on-facebook        follow-me-on-twitter         linkedin          search-homes      




Comments (9)

Peter Preston-Thomas
Real Ottawa - Kanata, ON

Peggy - I'm a book hound and have recently gone through my collection as well.  Great ideas.

Jun 06, 2012 01:50 AM
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Hi Peggy -

When we were in Alabama for Christmas Debbie cleaned out all her mom's books.  I never saw so many book this lady loves to read!  Anyway we made four yes four trips to the local nursing homes first seeking out avid resident readers then delivered the books to them.  They were like kids in a candy store and all promised to keep the books circulating throughout the nursing homes.  It was a win -win for everyone. 


Jun 06, 2012 03:25 AM
Peggy Chirico
Prudential CT Realty - Manchester, CT
REALTORĀ® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate

Hi Peter - It's a tough but necessary chore!

That's another good idea, John. I have given some to the local senior center too and they circulate them.


Jun 06, 2012 04:47 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Peggy I use to have a ton of books but through the years have given many of them away to friends who I know put them to good use.

Jun 06, 2012 10:13 AM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

What a great topic. We have been donating books for many years, but we haven't been buying hard copies, as a Kindle has been our library of late.

Jun 06, 2012 07:55 PM
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

Being an avid reader I don't get rid of a book. I may read one 3 or 4 times.

Jun 07, 2012 01:24 PM
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas


Great topic and great information here!!!!!  I have so many books and many I've never read yet.  Any that I do read though, I pass on to the Friends of the Library!  I buy a lot of used books from to so that would be another place to sell your books.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Jun 08, 2012 01:43 PM
Barbara Altieri
Better Homes and Gardens RE Shore and Country Properties - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Peggy - Great post. You just can't keep all those book around.  I like your idea about the encyclopedias.  I had not thought of that. I have a set in the basement because, as you said, I can't find a home for them. I will have to check that out. Thanks. 

Jun 09, 2012 09:23 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Peggy, with e-readers today, we won't have this problem in future years.    Thank you for this list, as I have LOTS of books to deal with someday too!

Jun 11, 2012 09:13 AM

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?