Guys, I am liberated. I have given away or sold 60 books and 25 candles.
A year ago I would have fought tooth and nail to keep all my books, and in various sort outs over the years I have always managed to keep the majority and only give away a small pile. This time round I knew something had to give, and it was either my books or my bookshelves.
This time round though I had a new method- the Marie Kondo method.
How adorable is this woman?
According to Marie’s method you should pick something up, hold it in your hands and look into yourself to see if it sparks joy. If it does you keep it, if it doesn’t you thank it for it’s time and let it go.
The thing I found so therapeutic about this method is you aren’t denying that that object once gave you joy, you are just assessing how much joy it still brings you. In the past I would often keep books I knew I had enjoyed once, but there is a difference between keeping books you actually do have a sentimental attachment to- and therefore still bring you joy- and books that you did enjoy at one time but you know you’ve moved on and will probably never read again.
Part of Marie’s philosophy is that you should put all things from the same category in one place before you start organising what stays or what goes. I believe in some kind of method to shock you for how much stuff you have.
Unfortunately for me after clearing these shelves it was apparent I would never be able to put the other shelves books on my bed all at the same time so I had to do it separately.
As you can see here, it was a mess!
The action of thanking each book I was done with also made the whole experience feel a lot more like an ending of a journey- I was done with these books but happy to have had them in my life- then just a callous dumping of them into a bag for charity. I’m happy to think that they will have a new home where hopefully they will be able to be appreciated all over again!
I now have three completely empty shelves, and it has made me feel a lot lighter. I know I no longer have the same kind of physical baggage I used to have hanging around every surface in my room, and I couldn’t be happier!
One thing the Marie method really helped with was letting go of ‘rare’ books. I have been a bit of a book collector for a while now and I have quite a few books which are signed or first editions. Obviously some of these do make me happy, and these ones were kept, but some I just have for the sake of having them. Keeping to Marie’s rules I will be selling these or passing them on.
In defense of Marie’s book philosophy
Marie got a lot of stick in the book community after in an interview she seemed to suggest owning a maximum of 30 books.
Here’s what she said, a quote taken from her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up-
“I now keep my collection of books to about thirty volumes at any one time.”
Never once does she say she believes everyone should limit themselves to 30 books at a time.
She later cleared this up by adding in an interview;
“The most important part of this process of tidying is to always think about what you have and about the discovery of your sense of value, what you value that is important… The question you should be asking is what do you think about books. If the image of someone getting rid of books or having only a few books makes you angry, that should tell you how passionate you are about books, what’s clearly so important in your life. … That in itself is a very important benefit of this process.”
At the end of the day all Marie is asking you to do is assess if an object brings you joy or not, what’s so threatening about that?
Don’t keep books that no longer make you happy, and keep books that do make you happy.
And on a personal note, I’m a lot happier now that my bookcases have been sorted out and I have new space for growth. I can’t wait to see what new books end up on my new shelves over the coming year!