Today’s article is a what-not-to-do. Sometimes it helps to look at things from a different perspective, and to see our stuff through the eyes of the collector. We might say the collector is the opposite of the minimalist, but both sides fit at varying points of the sliding scale of stuff. You could be a minimalist, and still have a collection or two that you enjoy. You could be a collector and have a minimalist wardrobe. The important thing is to find the right balance for you.
Books are a sticking point for many aspiring minimalist. It took me a few passes to declutter my book collection to the handful of books I have today.
Let’s start with the article. 16 Reasons To Be Proud Of Being A Book Hoarder
And then, let’s counter some of these reasons from a minimalist perspective. Keep in mind, at Minimal You, we assume that your goal is to move towards minimalism. The thoughts in the book hoarder article may be thoughts you have as you look at your book collection. The counter arguments offered here are to help you work through your attachments as you declutter your book collection. If something here doesn’t resonate with you, then ignore it for now, and come back to it later.
You may not have read absolutely every book on your shelves yet, but you haven’t given up on reading them either. Eventually.
Notice the word eventually. This is a word that leads to clutter. It’s the “I might use it one day” argument that caused a lot of the clutter that is currently filling your home. A better approach is to be realistic about what you will actually be able to read in the upcoming year, and stop the inflow of new books until you get through your current reading backlog.
Every book you bring home was a writer’s labor of love.
This could be said of every book ever written. Their labor of love does not equate to you keeping it in your home. This is the reason we have libraries and book stores. They can store all these labors of love until you decide you’d like to read one of them.
Who needs Google when you have a whole reference library at your disposal?
To that I’d say, “yeah, if you can even find the book.” In many cases books make better references than the Internet. You can often get greater depth and detail from books. However, that doesn’t mean you need to house an entire reference library. Your local library has a great stock of reference materials, so make use of that when needed.
A house full of great books is a house full of perfect last-minute gifts for your loved ones.
Because nothing says I love you like an old book from your collection -sarcasm-. One real benefit from minimalism is that you put more thought into gifts. Minimalists have a different relationship with stuff and consider more carefully what they bring into their homes. This flows over into gifts for others as well, and often makes you a more thoughtful gift giver.
Books make the perfect side tables.
They don’t. Side tables make perfect side tables.
Inspiration is always just a page flip away.
True, yet how many sources do you need for inspiration. Inspiration comes from many places, books, art, people, blogs like Minimal You, etc. You don’t need a room full of books for inspiration. One shelf of favorites should be more than enough.
Your bookshelves are packed with perfect little hiding places for everything you value as much as your books.
How many things do you really need to hide in your bookshelves? Realistically you can hide things almost anywhere in your home, among the food in your pantry is another common spot. A safe or safety deposit box at the bank are other alternatives for hiding valuables.
Even the most damaged books can find new life in beautiful DIY projects.
You don’t have time to read all your books, and yet you have time for DIY projects for the old, damaged ones?
Full bookshelves: the most functional and beautiful interior decoration.
Sometimes this is true. A bookcase of hardback books can be a nice interior decorating feature. Is your bookshelf ready for the pages of a magazine? If it’s like mine was, it’s full of paperbacks and not very pleasing to the eye. This one is up to you, if you like the look and can keep it neat, orderly, and tasteful then it’s acceptable, even for a minimalist.
When friends come to stay, they will never be without a new book to leaf through.
Here’s a better idea. When friends come to stay, engage in conversation. Spend some time exploring the city with them. Do some fun activities together.
John Waters would consider you eminently worth of getting laid.
Your home will always be filled with the perfume of old books.
Old books do have a particular scent. I’m not sure this is a good reason to keep them. It might be a better reason to visit bookstores or libraries.
Even on the darkest days you can have your very own rainbow.
I find an uncluttered space does more for my mood than a bookcase full of books. If books help when you are feeling down, then keep a few of your favorites to cheer you up.
When the world economy collapses, and everything stored in the cloud vanishes, you will be prepared. You know, with enough reading material for the next few decades.
Apocalypse scenarios as a reason for keeping stuff is probably more common than you’d think. Prepare as you think you need to, but books would be pretty low on my list.
You can never have too many books.
Tips for decluttering your bookshelves
I know books and bookshelves are tough areas to declutter. Here are my tips:
- Remove books that you dislike.
- Remove books you have read but don’t desire to reread.
- Consider if you still desire to read books that you bought a long time ago. Often you will find that books you buy at a certain point in life no longer resonate with you at a later point in life.
- Be realistic about how many books you will be able to read. How many books do you read each year? If you read one book per week, you will read 52 books in a year. If you have 500 books on your bookshelf, it will take you nearly 10 years to read all those books. And that’s assuming you don’t buy any new ones.
- Books as trophies. Are books your trophies of reading conquests? Consider keeping a list of the books you have read instead of keeping the actual books.
- Take several passes at decluttering books with some time in-between. As you get more comfortable letting go of books, you will find that it gets easier to let go of the extra and superfluous.
One last thought on this. A minimalist can have books, so don’t feel like you need to toss your entire book collection. I definitely recommend weeding that collection, but you can keep books. Declutter as much as you are comfortable with and see how you feel when you are done. You can always remove more later.
Your challenge for this weekend is to declutter some books. Declutter at least one, but try for more if you can. If you have already decluttered your books, make another pass. After decluttering, come back here and share your success. Tell us how many, which books, what type of books, and/or why you chose those ones you in the comment section below.