I'd like to start by saying: I hate moving. I am known to be extremely dramatic when it comes to getting organized, packing up my belongings, and essentially living in a real-life obstacle course (dodging suitcases, stepping over boxes) while I await my move. But there was one aspect of my recent relocation—only 20 blocks, but in New York City that still feels like an undertaking—that was justifiably overwhelming: The Purging Of The Bookshelf.
Sounds like a horror movie, right? Or maybe that's just me. I would say I'm a bookworm, but I don't think that even cuts it—what is ten levels above "bookworm?" What does it mean when you essentially house an entire library in a studio apartment, but are incredibly selfish about what you lend out? What's the word for someone who uses every flat surface that surrounds her as an opportunity to display her favorite novels? That's me.
At one point, I had more than 250 books housed in my tiny apartment—a one-room, L-shaped studio that was sparse on furniture, but heavy on reads. When I moved from my first shared apartment (converted one-bedroom, my room was the tiny one with a fake wall that used to be a living room), I took an IKEA armoire with me. I wanted to throw it away or sell it—my studio had a closet. My dad, being brilliant and resourceful, had a better idea: Remove the doors and make it a bookshelf. It's now my most prized piece of furniture.
However, such furniture enables my book collecting habit. I do not discriminate when it comes to new reads. I have fiction, short stories, non-fiction, memoirs, biographies, poetry, and childhood favorites (Shel Silverstein! Dr. Seuss!). I wasn't kidding when I said that I had a library of content. But when NYC movers charge by the box, you have to start doing some serious Marie Kondo-level cleansing of your space. Donating clothes was no problem. Discarding unused or broken kitchen supplies? Piece of cake. Parting with even one single book? Impossible. Until I developed a system.
Below is my checklist for conducting a book purge that won't leave you huddled in the floor, clutching books close to your chest and mourning their disappearance. Use it and you, too, will have room for new ones!