When I shared my last post on tidying clothes, I got an overwhelming response with many sharing how they struggle with arranging clothes, problem of plenty, holding on to clothes that do not fit in the hope that they will fit one day and loving the technique of folding that frees up space. As promised here I am with Category 2 (books) of Tidying up the Marie Kondo way.
As I was expecting, books are a really tough category to tackle. As per Marie, we must absolutely keep only those books that spark joy in our lives and that we wish to carry into our future. It wasn’t as easy as that when I started. Here are some of my learnings through the process:
Lay all the books on the floor:
I have two large book shelves that are filled with books. One is for the kids and the other for us. Since all four of us in the family have books that we own, love, have read and re-read, have read one after another, it was a tough task to start somewhere. Marie says hold the book and see if it sparks joy, don’t begin reading it. So that is how I began.
Give away books that you have no idea about
I was surprised to see titles I had no recollection of. How did they get there? I hadn’t bought them and neither did the other members. I am assuming they were pass ons. Imagine that! So those were the books that were first to go. If I had never heard of the book and did not know they existed, I would never pick them up. I understood why she asked to put everything as a pile on the floor. That gives visibility to all at once. Also, I gave the books that I no longer had the taste for or would not re-read. Holding them brought me no joy. I was surprised why I had picked up some titles.
Keep the Favourites (Hall of Fame)
First, I picked up all the favourites. Books that had brought me joy when I read them. Books that have not yet been read but have been bought after much thought. And books that I would love my kids to read. So we have volumes of comics, Enid Blytons, Harry Potters, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon and so many others that were picked up. Henry Denker’s Physicians is a favourite book of mine that is in tatters, but I’ve re-read it many times and so I was loathe to let it go. This part was surely easier. The kids pretty much kept everything they liked except books from a time when they were tiny tots.
Ask the Owners:
The husband had a bunch of tech books that he reads like fiction. He quickly decided which ones were outdated and came up with a huge pile to give away. The children decided on what books they wanted to give away, and their pile was the smallest. 🙂 It is important to respect the wishes of the owners while telling them why we were doing this exercise.
Give Away the Manuals, information brochures, diaries etc.
I had so many manuals that I threw away. All the information is now on the net with videos so there was no reason to keep them. I had never referred to them anyway. Also I had so many old diaries that no one was using. I kept a couple to use at a later date. Rest I put in discard pile. Information brochures and some self-help books had run their course as I was no longer in the stage of life where I needed them. If an unread book was years old, I decided to give that away too.
Children’s books, cookbooks and magazines
We gave away a bunch of old school books, note books and also books that we had for an age group of 4-8 years that they would no longer read. We, however, took loose unused sheets from notebooks and made rough books out of them. I had many cookbooks that I had never looked at. With amazing blogs and videos on the net, I frankly never need to consult cookbooks, so I gave them away.
I also gave away magazine collections that I realized were dear but never re-read.
After this entire process, I had quite a few books to give away. I reached out second-hand book stores to see if they’d take them, to my local library, to my community email and finally all the books that had no takers were given to the paper guy for selling/recycling. My large bookcase is only half full now. And there are still books in there that I was iffy about that I kept.
Why Decluttering Books is Important?
- Space concern: We all have finite spaces in our homes. Keeping books that have outgrown their usefulness only serves one purpose – snob value. Taking stock of books once in a while is a good exercise because you may not believe it but your reading tastes and choices evolve.
- Mindfulness: It is sad to see that there are so many books that I hadn’t touched after buying that I had no interest in reading anymore. Definitely sobering to not go overboard with book buying sprees.
- Get rid of junk: All those manuals, brochures and magazines were just gathering dust and needed to be given away.
- Can be utilized better: It is better to give away the books so that they can be in circulation again and someone who wishes to read that book gets an opportunity.
I thought it would be difficult to give away books that I owned. After all, as an avid reader, books are my pride. But holding them and really thinking about them made me realize that some of them meant nothing to me anymore except numbers.
The only area where I struggled was books gifted by friends and relatives. I think I have held on to most of them since they were a pretty small pile, and I felt guilty giving something that was giving to me with love.
Two Myths about Marie Kondo Books Decluttering that saw many spewing hatred:
- Keep only 30 books at home: She has said that she can manage to do that but nowhere that this is what you should do. Hoarding books for the sake of keeping them makes no sense. So go through each one and see how many you can give away. No one is discarding them or showing books disrespect. They are just changing owners.
- Tear books and keep pertinent information: For some of us books is vidya or knowledge and we can’t bear the thought of someone being so merciless with a book. All she was mentioning is that she thought that she would go back to certain important parts of some books, and it made sense retaining only those parts. But when she filed those parts in a folder, she realized that she never once went back to them. This just shows that some books have passed their expiry date in our lives. Can we let them go?
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Overall, I am happy with the decluttering we did. We have more room and now I have books that I have chosen to keep. A few years down the line when the kids are older, we will do this again. Meanwhile, I think having a healthy mix of ebooks and borrowing from library along with selective buying is the right step forward.
Share with me your thoughts on decluttering books. Next post will be on decluttering Paper.