Day 5: Books and Magazines

Even in the age of eBooks and the Internet we still have not outgrown books. There’s something almost magical about turning pages and many writers and poets have waxed lovingly about the feel, texture and even scent of reading materials.

All of this book love can make it difficult to part with books. Our homes become libraries housing tomes of literature we fell in love with. Letting go of a book sometimes feels like saying goodbye to a friend.

And while letting go of books can present one problem, organizing all those well-loved books can sometimes be a challenge as well. Different shapes and sizes can be hard to store, plus they are heavy and take up a lot of room. Unfortunately, paper can yellow, fade, and attract dust mites and mildew. Storing endless paperbacks is not feasible or necessarily even healthy. As with all organizing, pare down to the things that are really important to you.

First ask yourself if you, or anyone in your house, will be reading the book again or will reference the book. If you can’t commit to sitting down with the book for another go, it’s time to pass it on. Libraries, schools, and churches will often take book donations. Also consider building a Little Free Library or another outside-the-box organization/donation method for books.

Magazines and other periodicals can also be clutter disasters. Digital subscriptions and services that offer access to several magazines (like Next Issue, for example) can really cut back on the clutter. For print magazines, make it a policy to read them once and then pass them on, or tear out the pages you like and keep them in a single binder.

Start a magazine exchange with a few girlfriends that have similar tastes or donate extras to a doctor’s office or another business’ waiting room area. (Mechanics and salons are often grateful to give customers reading material, just black out your subscription information first.) Unless you truly reference scholarly journals or instructional magazines, most things can be found online or at a local library and there is no reason to save periodicals beyond their date.

Objective: A collection of books and magazines that you enjoy reading, stored in a functional and organized space.

Assess the current situation: What is the current state of your books and magazines? Do you have too many? How are they currently stored and organized? What are your biggest clutter struggles when it comes to books and magazines? What would you like to change?


DAY 5(1)

{Get Day 5 De-cluttering Checklist here}


1. Toss or recycle any magazines you no longer wish to read. There is no point in holding on to magazines you have no intention of reading again. If you are holding on to a particular magazine because of one article or recipe, simply tear out the page and create a binder to store your saved articles. (You could also consider taking a picture of the page and storing it digitally!)

2. Declutter books. Gather all the books in the house and bring them to one central location to sort and declutter.

Keep only the books that:

  • You or a member of your family plans to read or refer to again
  • Are in good shape
  • You absolutely love and want to display

 Do not keep books that:

  • You don’t read
  • You don’t like
  • You feel obligated to keep because it was expensive
  • You feel obligated to keep because it was a gift

3. Donate unwanted books to a local library or thrift shop. Many libraries welcome used books, if not to use in the library then to sell for additional fundraising. Most secondhand stores also accept books. Alternatively, you could try selling your used books on Amazon Marketplace (though I recommend getting rid of items as quickly as possible.

4. Create a functional storage area for your remaining books and magazines. Be sure to sort them in a way that makes sense and makes them easy to access, such as like books together. Label shelves or bins.


 1. Light & Lovely Library (WestElm.com)
2. Clutter Free Library (RealSimple.com)
3. Modern Magazine Storage (WestElm.com)
4. Color Scheme Storage (BHG.com)
5. Bench Book Cubbies (HomeDepot.com)

Ruth Soukup

Ruth Soukup - LIVING WELL SPENDING LESS. Practical solutions for everyday overwhelm. Food Made Simple, Life Etc., Home 101, Smart Money. Start organizing your whole life today!