Emboldened by my success in de-cluttering my clothes, some months ago I started to de-clutter my books.
The wise Ms. Kondo, in her Life-Changing Magic of Tidying advises de-cluttering books, after clothes, and this is good advice. If I had started with books, I would never have moved past them. But de-cluttering my wardrobe has enabled me to view my books more dispassionately.
I think we have to build up our de-cluttering muscles over time.
I found going through my books a lot harder and far more personally challenging. I love my books in a way I could never love my clothes. But when I started to question why I had so many, I found quite a parallel with the reasons I had been hanging onto clothes:
- Many of my books bring me a lot of joy and certainly add value – but not all of them.
- I like to re-read many of my books – but not all of them.
- Some of them were purchased new on impulse but I didn’t reach for them – instead I re-read an old favourite.
- I was reading 20% of my library 80% of the time.
- Some books I had for years and years – and I was no longer the same person who once found value in them.
- If I liked a book that was in a series, then I had to collect the whole series, regardless of whether I liked each individual book or not.
- My tastes have started to lean more and more to non-fiction, yet most of my books are fiction – they don’t align with who I am as much as they used to.
When I moved from Ireland to the UK some years ago, I paid a lot of money for each and every book I owned to be transported over – a costly and time-consuming exercise. Then they were stored in boxes for months and, to be honest, I would have had a hard time remembering what I had. But when I eventually opened the boxes and saw my books again, I was flooded with joy and relief. Looking back, I can see I tied up a lot of my identity with my beloved books. Moving to a country where I knew no-one reinforced my books as friends and anchor points.
I have quite a few books on my Kindle also but am always mindful of digital clutter – it can be far more insidious than physical clutter as it’s almost invisible and so harder to spot.
I had three book-cases and now have one. There are some books I think I could never give away but that’s fine – I know now what brings joy and I’m happy with what I have. Some favourites include:
- Edith Holden’s The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady – beautiful drawings, that could never be replaced by a Kindle version.
- Pamela Brown’s The Swish of the Curtain – a children’s book that started my life-long passion for the theatre
- Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – a timeless classic and all-time favourite
- Somerville & Ross’s The Irish RM and his Experiences – written in 1899 and still hilarious
- An old, grimy textbook published in 1814, An Easy Introduction to the Arts and Sciences – it’s described on its first page as ‘useful and polite learning’ – how can you not love that description?!
- And of course Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – a constant source of inspiration!
Have you had any similar experiences? Have a great week 🙂