5 Easy Ways To Give Back When Unhauling Your TBR

The worst thing about having a big TBR is the buyer’s guilt over the books you bought years ago and haven’t gotten to yet. Luckily, there are some ways to alleviate that buyer’s guilt and also do some good for your community.

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Two people exchanging books.

There are many reasons you could be looking to de-clutter your TBR: a New Year’s resolution; a big move coming up; some spontaneous room cleaning; or a dilemma of no space on your brimming bookshelf. Whatever the reason, it’s common for readers to come face to face with all the books they’ve sworn they’ll get read and haven’t yet.

As an impulse book buyer and an admitted book hoarder, I understand the guilt that sets in as your TBR only grows instead of shrinks. As much as you would like to get to every book you’ve sworn to read, there simply isn’t enough time, especially as more and more books are released each year.

It can be hard to let go of books, especially unread ones. What if you’ll love this one that’s been waiting for you? What if this is the year that you finally get to them all? What if your friends start reading one you just got rid of?

Fortunately, there are some ways to combat all these vicious what-ifs that have you hanging on the titles you know you’ll never get around to. Best of all, these methods not only cleanse your TBR but also allow you to give back to your community with the best gifts: books!

Donate to Your Local Thrift Shop

A lot of folks hunt through thrift shops to affordably fill up their homes. Why not help them stock up their home shelves with your unread titles? Thrift books are great because they have a variety of titles, old and new, usually for under ten dollars. Sometimes for even as low as fifty cents per book! Paperbacks, hardcovers, mass market copies — thrift stores will have them all!

A section of items from inside a thrift store.

The next time you’re headed to Goodwill or your local thrift shop with the results of your recent closet cleaning, throw in your discarded books as well and give your fellow readers a good deal on books.

Turn In For Credit At A Bookstore

Table displays and bookshelves inside a bookstore.

Many independent bookstores sell used books as well as new ones. While the owners likely do some prowling at thrift shops for used books, some stores accept used books from readers! If you have an indie bookstore in your town or nearby, stop in and ask if they accept donations. Several bookstores have some type of policy for used books and may even offer cash back or credit in exchange for your donations. So not only are you helping a local small business, but you’re also getting some money to use toward your next book purchase!

Gift to Friends and Family

A person holding two presents wrapped in brown paper and green bows.

If you’re a reader, some (if not all) of your social circle is likely made of readers as well. If there’s a book on your TBR that appeals to your bookish friends’ interests, brighten their day by giving them a new read. Gifting books to friends and family guarantees you know that the book is going to a good home, and who knows, maybe hearing a loved one talk about it will renew your interest in reading it!

Start A Little Free Library

A Little Free Library outside a home in Traverse City, Michigan.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that aims to build community and provide book access for readers of all ages. First founded in 2009, the organization currently has over 150,000 libraries worldwide and has shared over thirty million books! Check out their site to learn more about their values and see how you can start a Little Free Library in your community.

Rehome To A Community Organization

More likely than not, there’s an organization in your town that’s looking to take your unloaded books. Try checking in with your public library or any community shelters to see if they’re open to taking donations. 

Close-up of a green cart holding a stack of picture books.

Most public libraries have their own rules and conditions about accepting donations, so be sure to call your local library first to make sure they’re currently accepting donations and what type of titles they need. 

Many community shelters also take donations in the form of books. Check-in with a local shelter and see if they’re currently taking books and, if so, what types of books they’re looking for. There are shelters for all types of ages, genders, and living situations, so you may be able to donate to several at once, depending on the type of books you’re looking to rehome.

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