I love books, not only for the innate way some authors can articulate the landscape of life but for the way texts can pinpoint unique times in my life. Just looking at a book can remind me of when I was in love, when I was struggling with grief, or when I was infatuated with architecture, climbing, wilderness survival, or edible landscapes.
Years ago, my brother gave me Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I highlighted portions of it and scribbled in the margins. It became an annotation of what I was experiencing as a twentysomething and of what I thought about as I hiked and camped in the Cascade Mountains. It also became a chronicle of my puppy's early chewing phase, as she essentially devoured the cover of it and a copy of my book, The Big Tiny. As Sir Francis Bacon said, "Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly."
I've held onto that chewed-up copy of Walt's work and a few other select books over the years, but now I turn to the library to get my literary fix.
The best way to minimize book clutter is to assume that books are meant to move through your life, but it's your memories of them that will stay with you for the long haul. If you want to do one thing to declutter your book collection, pick out the books that are truly sentimental, or that you can keep growing with for years to come, and donate the rest to your local library or free store, where others can come love them too.