Book lovers unite! Yes, I’m going there… I’m talking about books! It’s funny how books seem to be one of the hottest buttons of minimizing. Readers love their books. (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
So let me say first, if you love your books, each and every single one of your books, keep them. No one is making you get rid of anything.
BUT, and this is a big BUT… I want to tell you what happened when I decided to consider minimizing my book collection. I was and am a book lover. I was a published author and I was also a partner in ownership of a publishing house. So, believe me, I know books. And my shelves were full of them.
When I decided to consider minimizing my books, I was hesitant and didn’t really think I’d remove any. But once I stopped looking at them as a whole – one collection, but instead looked at each individual title and asked myself the questions (that follow below), it was shockingly easy to decide which ones needed to stay and which ones I could part with.
The thing that happened that I wasn’t expecting was the release of feelings of guilt. I had no idea that I had attached so much guilt to my books. Books I meant to read, but hadn’t got around to yet. Books I read that I hated. Books that I SHOULD read because they came highly recommended. Books that I might read again, but don’t because I have so many other books to read. It’s amazing how much guilt piles up in those pages.
- I let go of books that I tried to read and couldn’t get into but thought I should try again one day.
- I let go of books that I didn’t like. Books I’d tossed across the room because they were written so badly! (Why did I hang to those ones?)
- I let go of books that I’ll never read, even though my intention was to do so when I bought it.
- I let go of books that I liked but had no intention of reading again.
I always remember feeling that guilt fall away when I didn’t even know it was there in the first place. That was a paramount moment for me with all things minimizing. Our things speak to us. They send us messages. Are those messages positive or negative? And if they are negative, they should not be in our space.
- I kept the books that I LOVE and when I look at the covers or spines still brought warm feelings.
- I kept the unread books that I truly felt at the time that I genuinely wanted to read.
I made a deal with myself that I can’t buy more books until I’ve read the ones I currently have. I don’t follow this rule 100%, but it sure has helped greatly reduce the book buying habit. Some books I buy in digital form, but I prefer paper.
I’d like to add a tidbit here to watch out for “loopholes.” Replacing my paper buying habit to a digital buying habit could have quickly got out of hand. I mean, there as no clutter, and best of all – no one knew I was buying them! I did realize early on that I was only breaking my own agreement and now the same rules apply for my Kindle.
When I finish a book, I decide if I will read it again, did I love it enough to hang on to, would someone else like the opportunity to read it? Generally, I’m happy to pass it along after I’m done.
The challenge today is taking a renewed look at your bookshelves. Instead of looking at your books as one collection, look at the titles individually. Ask yourself:
- Have I read this book?
- Will I read this book?
- If I have read this book, will I read it again?
- Could someone else be enjoying this book?
If the money you spent on the books is crossing your mind, and giving you pause, here’s the hard truth – that money is spent and gone. Keeping that book doesn’t bring the money back. It’s consideration for buying in the future that affects your money in the now.
Have a box or two or five ready for donations. Consider donating your books to the local library. And set a deadline for the books to be removed from your home, three days at the most.
I welcome your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comments below.
Remember you can share your journey with me and others by using hashtag #MarchMicroMinimizing, and tag me on Facebook or Instagram using handle @suzannegouldenILC.
Here’s me talking about sorting through our books!