How To Approach Spring Cleaning Your Ex’s Book Gifts

Spring cleaning is never fun, especially when it involves a book gift from an ex. Read on for advice about what to do with that once-wonderful gift.

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Two hands breaking apart above two books.

Breakups are difficult, especially when you’re reminded of them every time you glance at your bookshelf. You may think about getting rid of things that remind you of them, but that book has stayed in your collection, and you aren’t sure if you want to get rid of it. On one hand, it’s a memory of a person you want to forget. But on the other hand, it’s got a perfect spot on your bookshelf, and you don’t want to lose it. Keep reading to learn how to resolve this distressing dilemma.


The first step in spring cleaning out the books your ex gave you is to give yourself time to heal from the breakup. There isn’t a set amount of time for this; you know your emotions better than anyone. No matter how the relationship ended, breakups are tough. It’s difficult seeing and feeling the love you shared with a person dwindle. The only thing that can help you push through to the other side is time. Give yourself time to recover, and don’t rush it. Sit with that feeling of heartbreak.

A pile of small rocks with healing written on the center rock.

I don’t suggest sitting in that dark place for malicious reasons. It’s important to the healing process to let yourself be hurt. You aren’t less of a person for it. This feeling marks the beginning of a new you. Let this breakup mold a version of you that you wouldn’t have become without the breakup. This is a chance to rebuild yourself into something new with the experience you’ve gained. You weren’t asking for too much, didn’t say anything wrong, and won’t feel this way forever.

Book Memories

Looking into that box of memories and things with your ex is difficult. You’ll want to throw the box away completely, ignoring everything inside and what it stands for because it reminds you of them. But don’t be hasty. Not everything needs to be tossed aside and forgotten about. That book they bought you is important. Maybe it’s written by your favorite author or from a genre you have been experimenting with. Yes, the book reminds you of them, and it hurts to remember. But try to think of it a little differently. When you hold the book in your hands, remember how you felt when they gave it to you. The smile on your face as you read the cover and the hug and kiss you shared right after you thanked them. The excitement you felt with each turn of the page. The small feeling of emptiness as you finished reading it for the first time.

A sign that reads "Memory Lane."

Those memories are what the book means to you. Not the breakup and heartbreak that ended your relationship. You weren’t feeling those negative things when the book was given to you. It’s a reminder of the friendship you shared with this person and the glee you felt when they gave it to you. An ex of mine gave me one book, and that’s how I feel when I see it on my shelf. I think of her and the day she gave me that book. I remember how happy she made me feel and the way she loved me. Ironically, breaking up with her was the hardest breakup of my life. But I will never get rid of that book. It reminds me of the good times and that I’m capable of being loved.

Book Recycling Options

If you need to get rid of that book because the breakup has left a scar on your heart — trust me, I get that — then there are options to recycle the book without simply throwing it away. While it’s probably easiest to toss the book in the trash and be done with the trash person who gave it to you, the right thing to do would be to donate. There are groups near you that will happily accept used books as a donation.

An open book with the logo for recycling on the pages.

As you collect items from your relationship to dramatically burn with a lighter and you come across any books, throw them into the toss pile if you really can’t stand them. There aren’t any laws that require you to treat all books with loving care. If you can’t look past your ex giving you that book, feel free to get rid of it. Nothing is stopping you. Moving on and getting yourself into a comfortable spot in life is the most important thing. Don’t let something silly like a book stop your healing process.

Ultimately, the important thing while debating what to do with that book is to do what’s best for you and your healing process. Breakups are emotionally draining and difficult to bounce back from. But, as cliché as this sounds, time heals all wounds. Don’t let your current frustration toward someone influence judgments in your life, especially when it involves a book gifted to you. In a year or two, you might regret having tossed the book away, or you may feel relief never seeing that book’s spine on your bookshelf again.

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