Sustainable Life

What to Do With Old Books

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Last Updated on March 25, 2023 by Carolyn

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What to do With Old Books?

In my basement, I have boxes of books.  Boxes gathering dust.   Boxes of books that haven’t been read in years, boxes of books that need to find a new home. Oh, how I cherish those books. Opening each box is like opening a window into my past life.

All Creatures Great and Small

The oldest box has books from my childhood (yes, I’ve held on to them THAT long).  There are probably 100 books that were read by a horse-crazy kid who longed to have a horse of her own and lived vicariously through the characters in those books.  And then there is the James Herriot series (for those who haven’t read them they are a MUST READthey are tales about a young country vet getting started in a Yorkshire practice in the early 1900s. Humorous and delightful.  Start with  “All Creatures Great and Small“)

 I pick up each book and the memories come flooding back.  How many hours of my childhood did I spend nestled in the crook of a branch of the enormous weeping willow that graced our backyard? I remember reading theLittle House on the Prairie series propped in the elbow of that great willow, pretending I was Laura and living out all those stories she wrote about.

Then there is the box of Western Novels that belonged to my late husband. I feel guilty thinking about sending the Sackett’s down the road, after all the adventures they shared with him.

But as Marie Kondo  (of “The Life-Changing Method of Tidying Up” fame) would say, “Does it bring me joy”?

Truthfully it DOES bring me joy going through these boxes of books.  But is the joy worth it? How often have I moved these books? Oh, the miles they have logged!  And how often have I pushed them out of the way to vacuum around them? How often have I looked at my basement in dismay and shaken my head at the disarray? I have aspirations of making the basement into a pretty living space, perhaps an apartment, but how can I with all that junk there? Yes, though my books are treasures to me, the harsh reality? Junk, clutter, that’s what they have become.

Goodbye to the books

So today, the process has begun. I took one box of books and sorted through it.  At first the “to keep” pile was rather large.  I asked myself

“Really? You’ve had these books for how many years? How many times have you looked to read them again (or even for the first time)?”

I moved some books over to the “send” pile and then reviewed the ” to keep” pile. It was way too large.  I flipped through a couple of books and thought “This is a really nice little book”,  and then practical me replied, “Then how come in the 10 years you’ve owned it, you’ve never read it?”  The books were moved over to the “send” pile.

Used Books Can Be Worth Selling

Today I listed many of those books on eBay and Amazon, and I was pleasantly shocked that some of them actually are still worth something! That sure makes the pain of saying goodbye a little easier.   And always pragmatic, I also am thinking of the environment.   For every book that I sell or give away, perhaps one less book will be printed.

A great tool to see if your used books are worth anything is They will search to see if your book is worth anything, and connect you to bookstores who are buying. These book stores will actually buy your used books that are in good condition, and pay the shipping too. You just have to fill in an online form, box the books up, print a shipping label, and drop them off at UPS or whomever their shipper is. Most will pay you for your books via PayPal.

For those books that aren’t worth selling, there are other avenues for them to keep on entertaining other eyes. is a book-swapping site I’ve used for years. You can also donate books to libraries, schools, and thrift stores, or you might have a local second-hand book store that will be happy to take them off of your hands.

The E-book Switch

  In the spirit of minimalism, I very rarely purchase a print book anymore, I switched to reading ebooks.  It took me a while, reading an ebook just wasn’t the same. I must admit it’s not quite the same feeling cuddling up with my tablet at night, but you know what? I’ve got over it. And it’s awesome when I travel, I have my library literally at my fingertips.  And frugal me rarely actually buys an ebook;  I’m a member of several local libraries, a member of a lovely Facebook Group which often shares freebies “We Love Memoirs” and a pre-publishing website “” where readers can request downloads of books in exchange for truthful reviews.  Needless to say, I’m never out of reading material.

And for those wondering, “All Creatures Great and Small” no, it’s not in the “send” pile, but it’s not back in the box either, it’s on a bookshelf. And do you know what? I think it’s time to reread it.

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