Guys and gals, for a lifelong book lover and publishing employee, books were almost impossible to tidy. Honestly. This has been one tough category. Here’s how I got through in the end, plus my tips for bibliophiles undertaking this challenge.
what did i do?
Books is the second category in Marie Kondo’s magic formula of tidying (for the first category, click here). And I’m telling you, this category took me a long time. It’s been weeks since I finished clearing out my clothes – which took me no time at all. But books has had me going back, and going back and going back, never quite happy with where I finished.
I have loved reading since … forever. I was always happier as a child, with a book, than a Barbie. And I’ve followed my passion for books into working in publishing. Needless to say, I have a lot of books. Not only on shelves in my living room, but also in storage boxes. At first I wasn’t going to pull all my books off my shelves (as is Kondo’s recommendation), but then my task felt half-hearted so I took them off, but shelf-by-shelf rather than all in one go. And then I tackled the storage boxes. Trust me on this – taking everything off the shelf helps. I did my first cull just by looking at the spines and barely took anything away. Once I pulled everything off though, it was like books had been hiding and I couldn’t understand how I hadn’t culled them the first time around.
I didn’t donate a lot of books, but I did donate some duplicates, or books I know I really will never read again and didn’t feel any sort of attachment to. I also culled recipe books I didn’t like, and school books I had no need for.
what didn’t i do?
Marie Kondo takes a pretty strong stance on not keeping a lot of books. It’s still all about joy in the end, but she’s firm about discarding books you haven’t read yet, books you wouldn’t re-read, and books you wouldn’t purchase again. I couldn’t bring myself to throw away books I haven’t read yet. Mainly because I still plan to do so! And some books I can’t part with because, although I don’t plan to re-read, they made a big impression and they are books I would recommend to others.
what did I learn about myself?
I learned I am sentimental and nostalgic (which doesn’t bode well for when I get to the sentimental items category). For instance, I made a small pile of children’s books I felt I was willing to donate. I say ‘felt like’ because I was trying so desperately to find something to discard (probably not how it is meant to feel). But on opening them and seeing a note from my parents/neighbour/sister wishing me a happy birthday, I suddenly couldn’t let them go. I have gone back a few times to see if I could cull further, but I really can’t. Books make me happy, and my full shelves are a feature wall, of which I am proud. And that’s ok. It makes me happy and that’s the whole point of the exercise.
Something else I have learned, is once you start this journey you’re keen to finish it. And it can take longer than anticipated. And you desperately want to find a home for all your things, but can’t get there until you’ve finished discarding and therefore know where all your space is. So if you’re taking on this challenge, you’ve been warned. And some categories will give you a greater sense of satisfaction than others.
has it changed anything?
Sure. Culling even just a few titles has given me space to take some books out of storage and display – like my Golden Books, and my collection of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books (ok, and Baby-sitter’s Club Little Sister). It has also given me a chance to arrange my shelves with a bit more purpose. Although, that is a work in progress since I didn’t cull any accessories – that’s still two categories away.
I’ve also created a to-read pile on one of my bedside tables, to tackle the amount of books I haven’t had a chance to read yet. And I made a promise I wouldn’t buy any more print books until I’ve read those. Which I have kept. So far.
Papers. Lots and lots of papers. Too much paper, even.
And possibly more shuffling of books until I am truly happy.
Have you recently styled your shelves? Or had a go at Konmari-ing your book collection? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below.