When it comes to decluttering, books can be one of the hardest items to let go of. Often we associate strong feelings with books because they hold many memories — of how we acquired the book, our feelings as we read it, where we lived at the time, etc. I recommend a helpful exercise developed by my colleague, Judith Kolberg, for decluttering your book collection.

The exercise is called FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES, & STRANGERS. Let’s define each….

  • Friends are people we like, trust, and enjoy spending time with.
  • Acquaintances are people we know, but they’re not ones we lean on for support or know well enough to say we have much in common.
  • Strangers are unknown to us. We are neutral and have no established feelings or commitment towards them.

So, when decluttering your books do this exercise:

Pick up one book at a time and ask yourself, “Is this book a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger?” Very quickly you will realize you have a much stronger attachment to some books more than others! Make separate piles for each. The books that are strangers you can release (donate) to someone else to enjoy. Do the same with as many acquaintances as you can. Just imagine how wonderful it will be to have a book collection filled with just your friends!!!! By the way, this helpful exercise can be used to declutter many groups of things.

What if you have a book(s) you don’t have an attachment to, but you feel may be worth something? Check out a website called AbeBooks.com.

AbeBooks accepts new, used, and rare books, as well as art and collectibles for sale on their site. The nice thing about selling your books, comics, or art on a site like this is that you can be pretty sure that whoever is buying the item really wants it.


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