The Bookworm’s Guide to Moving House

Something has to give, and apparently I can’t leave my clothes behind in order to stack the wardrobe with books.

Since deciding a year ago that we were going to move out of London, I’ve gradually been purging a lot of my possessions – including my books. And oh, I have been brutal.

If you added them all up, I’ve probably discarded an entire bookshelf worth of novels and poetry and biographies that a few years ago I swore I’d never part with.

Friends, colleagues and charity shops have all been the beneficiaries of my book cull – quite a few of them ending up with books they’d leant me in the first place – and my filled-to-bursting bookshelves have heaved a sigh of relief.

The thing about being a critic is that you get sent a lot of review copies and, while that’s wonderful, sometimes I feel like Mickey Mouse in The Magician’s Apprentice when his spell goes wildly out of control.

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We move in a week. There are 28 boxes of books, and that’s not counting the pile I need to read in the next fortnight which I have optimistically refused to pack yet. In comparison, my clothes only fit three relatively small suitcases.

While I dream of a personal library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves like in Beauty and the Beast, my budget only stretches as far as a two bedroom flat (but it has a view of Edinburgh Castle, so suck on that, Belle. Oh wait, you live in an actual castle. Never mind).

Something has to give, and apparently I can’t leave my clothes behind in order to stack the wardrobe with books.

I’m gradually learning to be pragmatic about what I keep, because the alternative is death by perilously unstable pile of hardbacks. My wife has quite sensibly transferred most of her collection to Kindle leaving only particularly nice hardbacks and her entire collection of Paul Auster to pack.

I, however, am still too in love with the ink-and-dead-trees format – luckily, since I left my Kindle in a café whilst I was flat-hunting the other week. I may be down one expensive electronic device, but at least I haven’t lost my entire library.

So how do you decide what stays and what goes? When I took the question to social media, opinions were mixed.

Horror that I could even think of throwing out my books, suggestions of selling them to second hand shops or on Amazon to make a few quid, keeping everything and double-stacking the shelves and the odd ‘do you still have that book I lent you back in 2007?’ suggested that everyone tackles this in different ways.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Having trouble going through all your books? Check out our 5 Steps to Purge Your Bookshelf!

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Bookworms! What do you do with your books when you move? Tell us in a comment!

About Kira Walton

Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

  • Kelly Ballenger

    I actually am getting ready to purchase my first home. I will be moving all of my books. Some are already in boxes and the rest will soon be stored in boxes as well. They are my love and I will move each and every box myself. The only time I let any of them go is if I don’t like the book and never finished it, the book is a duplicate (can you imagine?!) or I return the book to it’s rightful owner.

    • Congrats on your new home, Kelly! You’ll have to let us know when you get all your books situated!

    • Ouell Wilson

      Congratulations! I’m in the same boat I’ve only packed books. And debating which shelves if any,should join us in our new place.

  • DVG

    I am getting ready to do just that. I find that like other book addicts its hard to part with them. But I made a resolution that I have kept over the past four years: once read, its out of my house. So I donate to the library booksale, leave in hospital waiting rooms, cafeteria, or where I can usually find it on someone’s wishlist.

  • I have over 3000 books…and plenty of shelves to house them. I’ve moved twice in the past 4 years and I moved them all. I just will not part with my books. Next time I move, I’m paying movers. Can’t wait to see the looks on their faces. 🙂

  • Cynthia P

    Lol. You rock DVG! I was just going to suggest but you beat me to it. Great to see you here.

  • Edwina

    Hello MyssCyn & DVG. Great to see you both here!

  • Kate_at_RIF

    Kaite! I’m moving in a month and can’t even BEGIN to deal with the packing of the bookshelf. It’s so daunting.

  • peacesun

    When I moved with a room lined with bookshelves, the moving company underestimated the amount of stuff we had and had to get another truck to come, so it took 2 medium sized trucks to move. Some of them are still in boxes, yet the classics line the shelves again in a book-matched wood library. I have books everywhere and can not pass up a good sale.

  • marissa b

    A combination of (which can crosslist to ebay),, bookcrossing, and exhaustive cross referencing with the local library to see what i can and can’t get my hands on if i really need it.

  • I moved house to a place with less room, plus inherited someone else’s hoard of books. There was no way I could possible keep them all. I eventually gave the excess to charity.

  • Miawka

    I tried too to make some choice, but It was not that much. I have book everywhere (well it’s like that when you’re a bookseller, a blogger AND a critic ^^) and I can’t give them away. Too much memories, too much good stories. So, I had to find a solution : I bought more bookshelves ! 😀 Well, yes, I know, it’s not a good solution, but It’s all I can do. ^^ I admire you, such a brave decision !

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