7:00 pm EST, January 11, 2019

Where to donate your books when they start to take over your life

Do you have a book problem? Have you been watching Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up? If you’ve answered yes to at least one of these questions, this is the article for you.

The internet is ablaze with the sensation that is Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, but while most people are watching the new Netflix series and trying to apply its magic to their own lives, book Twitter got up in arms over the suggestion they get rid of any books that don’t “spark joy.”

I’m not here to argue whether or not Marie Kondo’s advice is valid. Probably because I can’t decide. On the one hand, I have so many books in my apartment, it stresses me out. On the other hand, Ron Charles makes an excellent point in his article for the Washington Post when he says:

That’s the problem with Kondo’s method. It presumes a kind of self-consciousness that no real lover of literature actually feels. We don’t keep books because we know “what kind of information is important to us at this moment.” We keep them because we don’t know.

Like Charles says in his post, Kondo isn’t suggesting we toss out our books willy-nilly. She suggests taking a look at each one individually and asking if it’s really worth keeping. You may disagree with the method, like Charles, but the intention behind the act is definitely one to consider.

If you’re looking to be a little more choosy when it comes to which books get the luxury of staying on your bookshelf, you may be wondering where you can donate those books you’ve decided to pass on to someone who may appreciate them more than you.

Where to donate your books when they start to take over your life

A friend

This solution might be so simple you overlooked it. If you love reading, chances are you’ve surrounded yourself with people who share similar interests. If you’ve got too many books on your shelf, whether you’ve read them or not, it could be fun to make a pile of titles you’re willing to let go and have your friends come over to pick through them.

If you’re looking to step up the fun factor, consider wrapping each book in brown paper and only labeling them with the genre or a wildly basic synopsis, then have your friends choose. Or, if you’re feeling particularly spontaneous, you can gift them specific books based on how well you know them, or have them pick blind. The possibilities are endless!

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No matter how you go about it, this is an excellent way to ensure your books are going to good homes. Just remember, since the objective is to get rid of books, make sure they don’t return them to you once they’re done!

Your local library

It’s an incredibly good feeling to know you’re donating excess books to a place that provides them to those in need. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you contact your local library and look into their guidelines for which books they accept and how they want to collect them. Most libraries have their guidelines on their website, but if they don’t, be sure to call them prior to just bringing your books in — otherwise you might have to turn right around and take them back!

If your library does take your books, chances are they’re going to sell them. Most libraries get the books on their shelves from specific vendors, so it’s likely your copy of The Hunger Games won’t end up with a barcode on it. It might end up in one of their book sales, however, which will help the library raise money and will make sure your treasured novel goes to a good home.

The prison system

Another way to put some good back into the world is to donate your extra books to prisons. Not only does it help those who are incarcerated to pass the time, but a lot of texts can help them with their education and to get jobs later on. However, as with libraries, there are a lot of rules as to what constitutes an acceptable donation.

There are plenty of programs that take books and donate them to prisons on your behalf. Once you choose your ideal program, be sure to read their rules thoroughly. It’s likely you’ll only be able to donate paperbacks of certain genres, and there are some kinds of books that are also strictly prohibited. But you can rest assured that any used books which fit the guidelines will be put to good use for quite some time.


If you’re looking to drop off your books at a thrift store instead, there are plenty to choose from. Giving back to a local shop will, in turn, help the community, but if you don’t have that option, you can always donate your books to Goodwill. For those who don’t want to give to Salvation Army due to their anti-LGBT history, Goodwill is an excellent alternative.

And yes, you guessed it, there are some rules here as well. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the the guidelines for donating to Goodwill, and then find the nearest drop-off point. The money raised here goes to funding job training and other services. Goodwill’s site is super informative, so make sure you read it thoroughly so you know exactly what kind of organization you’re supporting.


Got some teacher friends or want to support your local school? We all know how much teachers struggle to buy supplies for their classrooms on their own dime, so imagine how happy they’ll be to get some books from you! As with everything else, make sure you ask what the school needs and then strictly follow their guidelines. There’s no use donating something unneeded, especially if it means you have to keep what you tried to get rid of or it just ends up in the trash.

We all know how important reading it for children and adolescents, so if you’ve got some extra books, ask around to see if anyone you know can help you give them to kids in need. And remember, as important as it is to support your local community, don’t forget about other areas around the country or even the world that could benefit from your overabundance of novels.

Do your homework!

These are just five suggestions in a long list of possibilities, but it’s a good place to start. Above all, make sure you’re meeting guidelines and not wasting anyone’s time by donating something that isn’t needed. But once you find a place that wants what you have, work toward clearing out anything you might not need. It’ll do you and your home a world of good, and it’ll help a lot of people along the way.

And if you want to do something different with your books, the answer to your problems is only a Google search away! There are countless ways to give back, especially when it comes to gifting people books of all types.

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