After the premier of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, an image circulated around the internet showing the creator and host of the KonMari method saying, “Ideally, keep fewer than 30 books.” Of course, the internet does what it does and got all up in a huff—especially book-lovers—and said not my books! The quote, taken out of context, comes from Marie Kondo’s bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and is instead referencing the author’s personal book collection. The philosophy of the text itself is that anything which brings a person joy can stay during the tidying process—even if it’s a hoard of books.
I’ll admit when I first read through the “Book” section last year I was hesitant and had many of the same thoughts as other collectors, hoarders, and various book lovers. I didn’t think that section would do anything for me. After reading her advice and putting some of the tools into practice over time, I’ve found it to be the most helpful of any system I’ve enacted.
First some background: I didn’t have a book “problem” until 2016. Before then I lived off of two bookshelves (then one) and visited the library as often as needed. I pretty much just bought the books I really loved or really wanted. Then my roommate B moved out and all of a sudden the entire downstairs was my playground, and I had room for more than one bookshelf. This all happened at about the same time that I fell in love with Grassroots Books bag sales.
What’s a bag sale, you ask? Essentially, you grab a bag—any size you can carry—and you fill it up with all the books you could ever want in their warehouse for $5. Prior to this they have a different sale where the books only cost a dollar each. I went a little crazy. And I bought books that sounded interesting, books I kind of liked, books I wanted to read, books I had read a long time ago, books I should be reading because they were classics…I bought a lot of books. And all of sudden I had three BILLY bookcases, some cube shelves, and a few additional shelves.
When I downsized, put stuff in storage, and went back to one bookshelf there were TWELVE bins with books in them. Just books. Nothing else. And I realized that that was a lot.
Enter Marie Kondo and her wonderful advice. Keep only the books that spark joy. Books you haven’t read for years and probably won’t reread have served their purpose. Books you’ll never read have served their purpose. Textbooks you’ll never look at again have served their purpose. Holding onto things only weighs you and your literal bookshelf down. So I let them go.
In the middle of a hot summer, I went through all the book bins—twice. By the end of it, I was down to just seven book bins. And when I moved out on my own, only six of those were mine. And I went through them again and got rid of a few more books as I unpacked. And I do it again every few months.
Do I still have a lot of books? Yes. Are there more than thirty? Hell yes. But they bring me joy and I can’t imagine my home without a bookcase full of them.
So thanks Marie Kondo for helping me get back in touch with the things I love.
One thought on “Marie Kondo, Books, & Me”
I’ve ended up doing something similar, probably at least once a year. I go through my shelves and shelves, and give some of them up. I like to think of it as passing them along for others to read and enjoy. Some I pass on to friends, others I take to Grassroots (yes, I love the bag sale too) and collect a little bit of cash. I still have a LOT of books, but now I keep them organized so the ones I haven’t read are all in one space. Ready for the next time I’m in need of something new to read.
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