The Dilemma of Too Many Books

I recently bought a new bookcase, or new to me at least. It’s actually a used one I got from neighbors who were moving. The bookcase is teak with three sections, wide center shelves flanked by two narrower sections.

The bookcase was meant to replace two well-worn white Ikea bookshelves on one wall of my dining room. Well, ostensibly to replace the old ones, and therein lies the dilemma.

I removed all the books from the old bookcases, most shelves had double and triple rows of books, and moved the bookcases to another wall in the room temporarily so we could put the new bookcase in place. After sorting through the books and grouping them by subject, I set aside stacks of books to be donated and then put the ones I wanted to keep back on the shelves. They filled the new bookcase and one of the old bookcases.

Do I get rid of my old Ikea bookshelves as I had planned? If I do, I will have to sort through the books again and donate more of them.

What I had thought of as the dilemma of the bookcase has become, really, the dilemma of having too many books.

Now I’m not new to donating books. Last year I sorted through two large bookcases in my bedroom (Does it sound like I have too many bookcases in my home? I think that’s a topic for another post!) and donated more than a dozen cartons of books. The cartons were small of course, we had to be able to lift them, but we did pass along many, many books.

So in my quest to have fewer books in my home – not a quest I’m wholeheartedly behind, by the way, because I would like to keep all the books I have – I decided to find more places to donate my books.

A look online for some suggestions led to the list below of places that welcome donations of books; some are old favorites, ones we’ve mentioned in a previous post, and some are new to me.

Better World Books

Recycles books to raise money for global literacy.


Recycles children’s books and gives them to children in need.


Give books away. Get books you want.

Books for Africa

Education is the great equalizer in the world.

Books for Soldiers

For direct donation of books to soldiers serving overseas.

Global Literacy Project

Committed to helping people become literate.

Green Textbooks

Recycles textbooks, DVDs, CDs.

International Book Project 

Changing lives through books.

Having too many books is, as some say, a high-class problem. Being able to pass them along to people in need through these wonderful organizations is green living at its best.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

5 Responses

  1. Besides worthy thrift shops (such as Housing Works Book Cafe) many public libraries also have a book shop in the back or basement. Money raised through the sale of books there goes to underwrite local programs at that branch. My local branch (Webster Library at York Ave & East 78 St) raised $100,000 last year.

  2. […] post, by my coauthor, has some great tips for other places that welcome used books, many of them places that share books with people who can really use […]

  3. […] living with less. We’ve also talked about how to get rid of stories – at least the ones in the many books on our […]

  4. […] Most of the information in reference books is dated or can be found online. Donate to one of the places listed here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: