The essay below was originally published on AOL.
Prior to downsizing my life, I had a huge personal library. It contained hundreds of books; some were new and others were old college texts that I'd been dragging around for years. You never know when you'll need an Economics 101 book, right?
I love books, but my massive library was weighing me down and taking up way too much space. So after a lot of thought and deliberation, I decided to donate the majority of my books to the local library. Now I have a little, minimalist library. It contains a mere five books that I refer to constantly.
If you're a fellow book geek and want to create your own minimalist library (and you can always have more than five books!) follow these simple steps:
1. Evaluate the books in your home library.
- Make an inventory.
- Determine whether or not you've reread or find yourself referencing any of your books.
- Think about your consumption patterns: Do you have to buy every new book you see or can you check a few out of the library?
2. Separate your books into piles.
As you inventory your books, create three piles: a "donate" pile, a "maybe" pile, and a pile of books to keep.
3. Make space for your books.
Designate a few areas of your home for your books. Don't leave them lying around the house collecting dust. By keeping your books on shelves (or, as in my case, one shelf) you will save space and stay organized.
Remember to be creative. Books can be made into a really creative design tool. You can place them above doors, create a free-standing bookshelf or place them in a stairwell. Apartment Therapy has posted a number of intriguing examples.
- Above a door: A Garret Transformed
- In a stairwell: Veronika & Sebastian's Rooftop Victorian
- In a freestanding stack-style bookshelf: Laura's Inviting Live / Work Studio
- On a low bookcase, underneath some BIG art: Michael's Michigan Cottage
- On an entryway tabletop: Ingrid's Wood and Wool Wonderland
- In easily reconfigurable lightweight cubes: Julie & Iker's Marina City Heaven
- On shelves in the niche formed by a fireplace: Cesa's Recycled Home
- In some amazing moveable "walls": Sean & Daphne's Industrial Rustic Downtown Hideaway
- At the end of a sofa: Todd and J.R.'s Printer's Row Passages
- In bookcases that wrap a "room" in a loft: Sonia & Mike's "Quaint & Cozy" Loft
4. Find a few good boxes.
Go to the grocery store and pick up a few good boxes. Start packing up the books you're going to donate. For the books that landed in the "maybe" pile -- store them for a month. If you don't use the books in a month, donate them to the library.
5. Donate, donate, donate!
The recession and funding cutbacks have forced many libraries to scale back their operating hours, lay off staff members, and cut or reduce other core services. If you aren't re-reading or referencing your books, donate them to the library.
6. What about new books?
Most of my reading material comes from the library. But I still purchase new books. When I'm finished reading, I donate them or pass the book on to a friend. I've also started using the Amazon Kindle app for my iTouch. Reading digital books cuts down on book clutter and has saved a lot of space in my little studio.