No matter how digitally advanced the world gets, books are (or ought to be) a timeless part of our lives. Between iconic cover art and their sweet smell locked inside the enriching pages of generations, books are incredible. No electronic version can ever replicate the magic of a physical book. Which is why, as long as there’s Strand, you’ll swing by, picking up bargain books for 50 cents like the educated boss you are.
Your apartment, however, probably isn’t big enough to store all the books you’ve collected since childhood. Unless of course, you live in a penthouse that has a bookshelf with a secret revolving door to a secret room filled with towers of bookcases that’d make Belle from Beauty and the Beast jealous.
Until that happens, though, what are you supposed to do? Before you attempt these creative book storage hacks for small apartments, you have to decide what books to keep or get rid of. Because more important than the sanctity of your bookshelf is the sanctity of your space.
Here are 10 ways to decide what books you should eliminate from your home:
1. Get rid of a book that’s been adapted into a bad movie.
If a book’s movie is worse than the book, which it usually is, it might be time for the book to take a backseat. If an author doesn’t stand behind the sanctity of the written word over the cinematic, should you?
On the flip side, you might want to keep the book and read it again a few times to help you forget that its movie ever existed. The choice is obviously yours.
2. Let go of any books in a series that you don’t love.
Pick the one book in the series you love the most and let that shine. If you rock with the Half-Blood Prince, let that be the star, and donate, gift, sell, or recycle the rest.
3. Recycle magazines that you haven’t opened within the past month.
Ok, so magazines aren’t a book, but surprisingly, they can still be tough to throw away. Especially if your celebrity crush is on the cover. The next thing you know, you’ve got five issues of US Weekly chilling like Leo in Waikiki before you can say, “Stars — They’re just like us!”
Take a few minutes to sort through your magazines and then recycle the ones you haven’t read within the past month. If you haven’t opened a certain magazine within that timeframe, chances are you won’t open it next month either.
And if you really want to save the cover, you can always take a picture of it and save it on your phone. Or rip the page off, frame it, and hang it on your wall. Both of which takes up zero space on your coffee table.
4. Choose contemporary over classics.
Shakespeare. Hawthorne. They’ve sustained the English language throughout the centuries with their iconic tales of romance, love, and friendship.
All of them will always have a special place in your heart. And in your brain, because you can quote lines from their work with ease. Which means you don’t necessarily need their books taking up space on your shelf.
Consider giving those books away, and make space on your shelf, and in your mind, for a book from an emerging writer who produces incredible work.
5. Give cookbooks whose recipes you’ve mastered away.
You’ve mastered all of Bobby Flay’s and Giada’s recipes. Awesome! But has your friend who eats the majority of his/her meals from a microwave or restaurant on Seamless?
Give those cookbooks to someone who needs them. Because when it comes to food, there’s nothing more satisfying than a delicious meal you cooked for yourself and your significant other.
What happens if you forget one of your favorite recipes?
There’s always the internet. That, and your phone in which you can save your recipes forever.
6. Recycle college textbooks, or give them to a college student.
Depending where you live, any college and post-grad textbooks you paid for cost more than your rent. And if you don’t use those textbooks in your current profession, it’s time to recycle them, donate them, or depending what year you graduated, sell or give them to a student in need.
Besides, there are plenty of ways to relive your glory days as an undergrad. Like by turning your living room into a part-time Barcade.
7. Get rid of your Steve Jobs biography and any book by Marie Kondo that you already finished reading.
There’s no question that Steve Jobs was (and through his legacy, still is) one of the most influential people in the world. The same goes for Marie Kondo, the famous organizing consultant who TIME named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2015.
At the same time, both Jobs and Kondo were/are quintessential minimalists. If you’ve finished reading their books, follow their leads. Recycle, donate, sell, or gift the books to someone who could benefit from their life-changing knowledge.
8. Store your books, magazines, and comic books in Clutter.
Ultimately, only you can decide what books to keep or get rid of. So, consider these tips as guidelines for helping you come to that conclusion.
At the same time, things aren’t always black or white. You might have trouble deciding what novels, magazines, and comic books should stay or go. And even then, you might get rid of a book in that gray area, only to regret it a week later.
For those books, and anything else that you love, but don’t necessarily need within arm’s reach right now, store them in Clutter.
This article was written by Robert Wohner, a writer from Queens, New York. He is an avid supporter of Spotify Premium, the Museum of the City of New York, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.