Day three and I’m halfway through the process of tidying my books. I’ve gone through about half my books, and six boxes have left the house. I’m so glad they’re gone — not because they were taking up space, but because they were sucking out psychic energy and dragging me down. Now they will enjoy a new life in somebody else’s hands. And I will enjoy new books.
This tidying process is from the book the life-changing magic of tidying up by marie kondo. I have written more about it here and here. I followed the process as closely as I could, but because I’m a writer, and books are my business, it was not entirely applicable. It’s right for me to keep many books that don’t “spark joy.” So, I substituted some of kondo’s rules for my own.
What I did:
Day One: I gathered every single book I owned from every corner of the house. We have fourteen bookshelves altogether–three in my office, two in the kids’ rooms, and nine in other parts of the house. I got all the books that were outside my office and put them on the floor of my office. Then I got two boxes of books from the storage room and put them there too. It was mighty crowded by then!
Day Two: I got myself into a good psychic space and started going through my books, one by one, sorting them into categories and handling them to see if they sparked joy. Quite a few of them did the opposite! So I put them in boxes to go. I erred on the side of keeping books I wasn’t sure of, but even so, I filled six boxes. As I filled them, I put them outside my room. I took frequent breaks, but even so, after about four hours I was fried! I took a good long break, ate a bunch of food, and then started up again in the late afternoon. Another hour or two and I was done.
Only trouble: the rest of the books, from all over the house, were on the floor of my room! I spent an hour trying to shelve books, but they won’t all fit on my own shelves, and I don’t know yet which ones I want to keep outside my office. To make matters worse, those other nine bookshelves are crowded with other people’s books.
Day Three: I stopped worrying about where to put my books and focused on getting those six boxes out the door. It was harder than I thought. If I had it to do over again, I would have just put them in the trunk of the car and driven them straight to a thrift store. Instead, I took them to a local to sell. They took a lot fewer books than I had expected, leaving me with five boxes I still had to take to the thrift store.
But now they’re gone, and I feel great!
I’m going to wait a week or so before I finish up the rest of my books. It’s been emotionally difficult and I’m fried! But the rest won’t be anywhere near as hard.
What I learned:
- Books hold emotions and memories and have a physicality of their own.
- It matters where I put my books. There are some spots on the bookshelf I look at every day. Those are not the places to put the books I keep meaning to read.
- Some books are the wrong size for their text. For instance, I had two copies of Vonda McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun, one hardback and one paperback. Before I started the process, I figured I would donate the hardback and keep the paperback. I did the opposite.
- I don’t much like dust jackets. If a book has a dust jacket that’s torn or fading, the book is doomed to leave my house.
- I’m under no obligation to read any book I own.
- If somebody I know and like has written a book and I have purchased it, I am under no obligation to read it, and I am also under no obligation to give it away. I can keep it on my shelf and feel pleased for my friend.
- My collection of books has some gaps I didn’t see until I got rid of what I didn’t want. I owned some books by authors whose books I read and enjoyed twenty years ago. But I didn’t own those exact books. I’m sure they’re out there somewhere.
Enjoy yourselves, dear books, and farewell.