If you’re a writer, you are surrounded by books. It’s part of what we do as readers and writers. Then, one day, for some reason like moving to a smaller space or a change in circumstances, some or all of those books must go. For me, it was discovering that I was allergic to old books and book dust, and most of those book had to go. This is how I did it.
I was an English major through three degrees so I had easily a hundred hard cover and trade paperback novels from that part of my life. If these books were in public domain or I didn't care for them emotionally in the first place, into the library book sale pile they went. As a specialist in the 19th Century, I pretty well cleared out my hard cover and trade paperback shelves.
The more current fiction that could be bought as ebooks if I ever wanted to see it again went into the library book sale piles.
All those nonfiction research books I collected for a book I would write eventually about the States during WWII, the novel in Victorian England, etc., etc. I knew deep in my heart that eventually would never come so those were given to the nonfiction librarian to keep or give to the library sale. The book on the tunnels underneath London was the hardest because TUNNELS UNDER LONDON! WITH MAPS! All the first editions of North Carolina writers and books on NC suffered the same fate, but the North Carolina Room librarian got those.
The paperbacks were both harder and easier. They were also the most toxic to my nose so I had to be brutal. The books that remained went into plastic, air-tight bins. After a hurricane destroyed the library in one of the state’s coastal towns and my library asked for popular books to stock the shelves of a large mobile home, I sighed as I realized that all but a few of those books would make others far happier during miserable times than they made me in plastic bins. Off they went.
What remained. A really good, huge dictionary suitable for research and flattening things, books I refer to often in my writing blog, a few research resources I still look at, books of extreme sentimential value like the novel dedicated to me and signed by the author who died several years later, and the cookbooks my mom and I used for many family meals. The cookbooks are coming apart so I'm slowly making copies of the favorite recipes to share with the siblings and their kids.
Now, I’m down to one small bookshelf in a room I never use, a plastic bin for the paperbacks, and another small shelf of cookbooks and other resources.
So, moral of the story. If I can do this, you can, too.