What do you do with used books?

That’s my question of the day. I seldom read novels a second time. Some I may want to refer to while doing writing research — i.e., why was the opening effective or ineffective, or how did the author make the protagonist so real? Those books stay in my office. But most other books, secular or Christian, end up stored on the shelves of an empty bookcase upstairs in the guest room.

At one time, just prior to summer vacations, we would gather up all the paperbacks and head for a secondhand bookstore to trade them for fresh holiday reading. I’m not sure when that habit fell by the wayside, but it got harder to part with volumes. Now the shelves are nearing capacity and I realize I’ve become a book hoarder. It doesn’t seem to matter if I loved or hated the stories. The books have taken up permanent residence here.

Oh, I’ve donated a few duplicate volumes to our church library… reluctantly. God may love a cheerful giver, but when it comes to handing over my books I mumble a lot… even grumble a little. Besides, our church library’s shelves are pretty well filled already.


I like sharing a good book, but I’d much rather stick a nameplate inside and lend it out myself. That way I can stare deep into the eyes of the borrower and make sure I’m acknowledged as the rightful owner to whom it will dutifully be returned. Very ungracious of me, isn’t it?


As the bookcases around my house begin to bulge, however, I’m either going to have to cull books or buy a bigger house, and the latter isn’t going to happen. My hubby assures me our next move will involve downsizing.

Do you have any advice or innovative suggestions for me? What do you do with your used books?

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8 thoughts on “What do you do with used books?

  1. Hi Carol –

    There’s a senior citizen complex near my house. They welcome donations. Most of the folks there can’t afford to buy books and have difficulty getting to the library.

    There’s also a used bookstore that takes donations, as well as thrift shops. Like you, I do hang onto my favorites. I’m at the point where I need to edit my collection. I’ve also given away books to writer friends and done book giveaways on my blog.


    • Carol says:

      Offering books to a seniors complex is a great idea, Susan. It would soften the blow of parting with them to know they were going somewhere they’d be appreciated.

  2. christicorbett says:


    I just hosted a BookTrade on my blog, where writers could post a list of books they no longer wanted, and then select from the list for themselves.

    It wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, but perhaps I’ll do it again next year. I ended up getting three really fantastic writing related books and clearing out my own bookshelf of unwanted books.

    Christi Corbett

    • Carol says:

      A book trade is a novel idea! (Oops… I think that’s an unintentional pun!) Like Susan, I’ve given the occasional one away on my blog, but a trade means everyone wins. 🙂

  3. Shari Green says:

    Gasp! Get rid of books?! *faints*

    Seriously, I really have to be in the right mood to part with books, and that mood doesn’t strike very often. But, if I’m determined to prune, I make myself honestly answer the question, “Will you read this again?”, then the No’s go into the box and out the door before I can change my mind! (For credit at the used bookstore, or if the timing’s right, donation to a fundraising book-sale.) I also find I lend more willingly now, knowing that if I happen to NOT get it back, my shelves are a little roomier. 😉

    • Carol says:

      Maybe it’s a sickness… a book addiction gone awry! I like your positive attitude to lending losses. If books aren’t returned we have space to buy even more. WooHoo! Lend away!!!

  4. Laura Best says:

    I’ve been known to donate books to library sales in the past. I’m quite particular as to which books I part with though. Many are used ones I’ve purchased at past sales and didn’t care to read them again. Usually, I keep the ones I buy at bookstores, and would never part with a signed copy. However,I ‘ve bought a few in book sales that were signed. It always feel a bit wierd though.

  5. Darlene says:

    I have the same problem. We live in an apartment and my husband complains there is hardly room for him for all the books piled here and there. I know I will have to get rid of some of them soon. It will be hard. When I do, I will donate them to the hospice. At least I know they will be going towards a good cause.

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