Remember the furore earlier this year when Marie Kondo suggested that books constituted ‘clutter’? That nobody should have any more than 30 books in their home? And that you should therefore get rid of the contents of your bookshelves?
Remember when Twitter exploded with all the self-professed Top Book Lovers of the World getting hot under their jackets? Saying How Dare She Suggest I Throw Out My Beloved Books, The Charlatan?
But do you remember what she was actually saying – that you should only throw out the books that don’t spark joy?
Well, I’m totally down with that sort of thing. I mean FULL support. All over it, in fact.
The reason for this is that not only do I have books on my shelf which don’t spark joy: I actually have books on my shelf which spark misery.
I realised this because I’m viewing things through new eyes, having just returned from my holidays. (They were great, thank you. I went to a music festival and then I went around Ireland in a campervan and then I went on a sun holiday so, yes, I am feeling both fortunate AND entitled right now.)
Upon returning from holidays, I started looking around my home at all the things which had been piling up over the pre-holiday weeks, when I was working 10 and 11-hour days. The bits of paper representing admin stuff I hadn’t done. The holiday clothes I had no homes for. The bookshelves which, despite being combed for holiday reading, still had reams of unread books which I hadn’t wanted to bring on holidays with me.
As a result, I’ve decided to Marie Kondo the bejesus out of my bookshelves.
And here’s why:
- Why keep books you didn’t absolutely love and might want to read again? There should be more than enough of those to fill any respectable bookcase. Nobody should really dislike more than half the books they read, and if they do, they’ve got far bigger problems than clutter.
- Unread books are constant reminders of what you’re NOT doing.
- A neglected, never-changing ‘To Be Read’ shelf or shelves makes you feel like you promised somebody you’d do something and then you didn’t do it. Everyday. Forever.
- Kind people sent me books I never read, which makes me feel unkind.
- I bought loads of books at book launches I probably would never have chosen to read otherwise. Still, every time I see them I feel guilty.
- I kept buying books which were mentioned in news articles, but then I forgot why I wanted to read them, which makes me feel stupid.
- I kept buying books about lofty subjects I wanted to know more about, but then when it came down to it, I never committed enough to read them, probably because I’m mostly always tired and wanting to lie down.
- I wasn’t able to read properly for a long time this year because my Dad passed away. Certain books are always going to remind of that time, and I can do without that every time I walk through my hallway.
- If you only buy books for how they look when artfully arranged on a bookcase, you need to stop reading this blog immediately and go and post more bullshit selfies on Instagram.
- Because they’re MY shelves, and I can do what I want.
How about you, then? Are you feeling ready to embrace the minimal – or would you rather fight to the maximalist death to defend your right to a full bookshelf?