I am trying to pare down in many ways right now. We're to the point where we either buy more bookshelves, or I get rid of a few books. There are books piled on top of the shelves, shoved in on top of other books, and then there was the catastrophic failure of some bookshelves downstairs. The new bookshelves aren't in the budget, so we need to go with the other option. Many of the books are beloved, but some of them are those crappy literary equivalents of friends who you've lost track of and really aren't that interested in reconnecting with.
Here are some ideas (starting with a list I got from Lucky Magazine quite some time ago):
As I go through my shelves, I am able to donate or recycle paperbacks fairly easily.
Donate: Central Market has a can to donate them to the family library for MD Anderson. What could be a more appropriate place to send chick lit? Those people need some fluff!
Swap: I have recently been sucked into the PaperBack Swap cult. I am more interested in sending off some books and hoarding the credits for those chick lit books that the library never gets and I want to read but don't want to keep.
Hardcovers are a little harder:
Book Rescue will take hardcovers that can be used in schools. They'll also take random hardcovers to be recycled with a $5 donation.
Book Thing takes books and gives them to people. How cool is that?
The Housing Works Used Book Cafe in New York takes donations by mail.
Books for America takes many kinds of books (except hardcover fiction)
Reach Out and Read gives books to kids
Of course, I am also trying to (gasp) buy fewer books. Do I want to keep it forever? Can I get it from the library? If I can't get it from the library but I don't want to keep it forever, can I donate or share it? Can I wait until it's in paperback/on the $5.99 table? Can I get it from PaperBack Swap and then send it away when I'm done with it? I've gotten tired of the tower of books I haven't read yet. I feel guilty about spending the money and making a mess in my home.