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How to Declutter Your Book Collection (Without Throwing All Your Books Away)

Photo: courtesy of the Retailer

If you’ve decided to declutter your book collection, you don’t have to limit yourself to an arbitrary number of titles, like Marie Kondo’s slim, 30-book collection. Keep your piles upon piles, but make sure you have enough space for what you have. That’s why all five professional organizers I spoke with also recommended sorting your books before you start organizing, buy a bookshelf, or build new book storage. Realistically, even if you think you have a fabulous library full of serious volumes, there’s probably a couple books you could donate or give away. Duplicates are easy to eliminate, and according to Patty Morrissey, a KonMari–certified consultant, “Marie does advocate for getting rid of books that you tell yourself you’re going to read one day.”

“Once we know what the volume is,” says Karin Socci, a KonMari Master Consultant and founder of The Serene Home, “then we really have to be strategic about space-planning, especially in New York.” To make sure you don’t end up with unruly piles of books everywhere and help you find a stylish book storage solution that actually works for you, we spoke with three KonMari–certified consultants and two professional organizers about their favorite book storage ideas and products.

Wall-Mounted Book Storage Ideas

“In general, across all categories, vertical storage is recommended for most things, because it makes it more alive and less stagnant,” says Morrissey. That’s why most of the organizers recommended some kind of wall-mounted solution, though Socci emphasizes, “We really look to making sure that it’s appealing and beautiful and restful and peaceful to look at” in addition to functional, especially in the KonMari method. Lisa Zaslow, a New York–based professional organizer and founder of Gotham Organizers, likes modular, wall-mounted shelves, but notes that it’s important to be careful. “They kind of float, which looks great and is very minimalist, but your books can fall off the end if you don’t have bookends,” she warns. That’s one reason she likes these floating shelves from Italian company Teebooks, which have built-in bookends.

Though shorter than the ones from Teebooks, these metal wall shelves from Urban Outfitters have a similar floating feel and practical brackets that’ll also keep books in line.

If you do need bookends for a floating, wall-mounted shelf that doesn’t have them, Zaslow likes these simple metal ones.

“In KonMari, there’s the idea that like things should be together, but also that things should be where you use them,” says Socci. “So if you read at night, then obviously you’re going to have some rotation of books by your bed, or at your nightstand.” To wrangle books in that corner, Laura Cattano, a Brooklyn-based professional organizer, likes the Umbra Conceal bookshelf. It’s an easy-to-install storage solution for the couple of books that you’re in the middle of, so you can avoid piling them on your floor or nightstand.

Another option, straight from the kids’ section, is these shallow book racks, which are especially helpful if you’re trying to show off or store oversize books. It’s similar to a trick Ann Dooley, a KonMari–certified consultant and the owner of Simple Joy With Ann, has used before. “I had one client that had two layers of books on the same shelf, plus some sideways, stacked on top. It’s packed,” she explains, adding that the client eventually realized that she just liked some of the books for their covers — and that’s okay. For those, Dooley explains, “We displayed it kind of like in bookstores, where the cover is facing forward, and using that as a divider between sections. I do it that way, I think it makes it a beautiful display.”

Cattano likes these shelves from Restoration Hardware’s children’s line, noting that the shallow design is great for a tight kitchen or above a desk. Cattano describes it as a “little rotating library” for books that you’re currently referencing or reading.