10 Bloody Brilliant Reasons To Marie Kondo Your Bookshelves

Why Your Attention Span Is Under Attack From Authors Who Just Don't Get It

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.

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And here’s why:

  1. 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.
  2. Unread books are constant reminders of what you’re NOT doing.
  3. 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.
  4. Kind people sent me books I never read, which makes me feel unkind.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

  29 comments for “10 Bloody Brilliant Reasons To Marie Kondo Your Bookshelves

  1. Will Hahn
    August 25, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Of course I objected to Ms. Kondo’s maxim when it was expressed as a number (I think it was 30). But here’s a thing (OK, three):
    – Most of what I read these days is on my Kindle, and I dare her to count that as more than 1. I SELL paper, yes, but I read electrons.
    – Of the thousands (seriously, must have been two or three thousand) books my lovely wife, miracle daughter and I had in our possession as of last May, easily 80% were simply stored in bins in the basement.
    -We held a series of yard sales this summer, in which books were (by volume) the largest single component. Sold probably five hundred titles, the rest are now in fewer bins in the garage and will be donated. And I truly don’t, won’t miss them at all. I read them and remember. Some of the coolest books went to purchasers and I felt a wave of coolness as I told them how great it was going to be.

    Plus, hey, at least three hundred left in the house. Cold dead hands and lots of prying before anyone gets those.

    Liked by 3 people

    • August 25, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      I think she was saying that 30 was the number for her, Will, rather than for anybody else, but wasn’t she fortunate with all the free publicity that the online outrage brought her Netflix show?? 300 may well be your magic number.

      I wouldn’t miss books in a box either. Anything in a box deserves to actually fulfil its potential of going somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. August 25, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve been saying repeatedly that we should be able to practice KonMari not only our physical bookshelves but (more importantly) our virtual ones too. At least nobody’s stopping you from taking a box of paperbacks to the charity shop, but just try deleting the iBooks Free Book of the Week from 5 years ago from your Apple Books library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 25, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Yes, online marketing is the antithesis of KonMari, isn’t it Art? I wish somebody would Marie Kondo the Internet!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. August 25, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Lots of sense here, but you will be removing my favourite game: which is immediately going to someone’s bookshelves when I arrive in a new friend’s house, to see what’s there. Whatever will I do instead? Oh right. Look in their fridge.

    Liked by 2 people

    • August 25, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Well, I won’t be getting down to anything even close to 30 books myself, Melodie, even though there are certainly a few sets m of 30 each that are going to go. So I’ll still have plenty of secrets on my shelves ready for outing. And a fridge 😂


    • August 25, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      Melodie, Forget the fridge. Check out their medicine chest instead. Much more interesting!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. August 25, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    This Marie Kondo knows not of which she speaks. The only thing I have gotten from de-cluttering my bookshelves is MORE space to buy MORE books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 25, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      But she qualified her statement Ruth – apparently this particular clutter is allowed to bring you joy 😂


  5. August 25, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    I had a massive clear-out a couple of years back, got rid of two enormous bookcases and donated box loads of books to the charity shop. I did find it a bit stressful but have I missed any of those books? Well only occasionally and not enough to want to buy any again. My sympathies on the loss of your dad. I lost mine in October last year and could tell you exactly what I was reading in those final weeks. So I understand what you mean about certain books reminding you of that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Thanks, Joanne. Sorry too to hear about your own Dad’s passing. You make a great point I think Marie Kondo herself would support – our real or imagined regret at not having something clutterish is far less of an impact on our peace of mind than the clutter itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. August 26, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    I am SO down with you on this. I actually had my very own pre-Kondo epiphany about three years ago when we sold a house we had as a getaway house (we rent the one we actually live in… go figure) and along with the house, we sold gazillions of items that we’d bought with hopes of using them in this bucolic setting and never did. Coming home to the city with a “declutter high” the likes of which I’d never felt so robustly before, I immediately set on the home in which I lived and the bookcase was well within my sights. I went through those shelves like a drug-sniffing dog on assignment, and got rid of every single thing I either would never read, had and wouldn’t again, or had and sorta hated. It felt LIBERATING.

    So I’m with ya, sister. It makes a nice shelf for photos, too… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm

      I can’t believe I didn’t jump on this bandwagon before myself, Lorraine. I think it’s PTSD after not being able to afford books in college or something! Anyway, it’s all changing now…


  7. August 26, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Your number 7 made me wince. I’m guilty of this one. I don’t know why I fall into this trap because I seldom read non fiction yet here I am buying multiple books about Roman history. They are early candidates for a clear out of my TBR I am doing at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2019 at 11:35 pm

      Ooh I LOVE it when my posts make people wince! My job is done. I can go and lie down now 😂

      Don’t worry about the clearout. Rome wasn’t sacked in a day, after all – er, hang on…


  8. August 27, 2019 at 2:41 am

    A few years ago, my wife and I downsized and I had to purge. I should have done that before. I piled in books that I never really liked and it was a good experience to donate them. Now that I’m in a smaller space, I’m very selective of what books go into my library, but I find them anyway. I think I’ll need more space soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 27, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Where there’s a wall, there’s a bookshelf, Stanley. That’s what I like to say 😉


  9. August 27, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve never really understood the reluctance to get rid of books. There are those I love that I wouldn’t want to part with, but even those I’d usually be happy to pass on to someone I know would also love them. I rarely re-read books. And usually if I’m needing to read one to give a review or for a book club, I’d rather have it on my e-reader so I don’t have another book collecting dust. I love to read, but dusting I could do without. I won’t claim I only have 30 books in my home, or even in a pile beside my bed, but I could be down with some decluttering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 28, 2019 at 8:42 am

      So true, Sarah. At the same time, though, we really need someone to invent a properly effective and simultaneously labour-saving book duster, and then every possible vertical space is game, as far as I’m concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. September 1, 2019 at 8:33 am

    I have books shoved in places where no good book should go [under the sink?] simply because I find it very hard to throw them out. Your post has inspired me. And if I don’t throw them out, perhaps I could at least make merry with the hot glue gun and turn them into furniture items of some description.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 2, 2019 at 10:37 pm

      Ooh I like it, Scarlet. I’m thinking a nice standard lamp, or a chaise longue? Or if you’re interested, I have detailed drawings somewhere of a boot scraper made from 14th century epics…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. September 10, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    I have oceans of books, like you said some, okay many, I have bought at book launches or at literary festivals after listening to the author being interviewed, that I would normally not buy. But with all these books all over the house, in every room there’s a bookcase full, my son asked me to pick my five most favouite, most precious books out of all the bookcases. I asked why? Because Mum when you die, I shall keep those five the rest are being got rid of. So now I am not so bad at hoarding books, I pass them on, well the odd one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 15, 2019 at 10:49 pm

      Forgive the delay but I only just noticed I hadn’t replied, Mary! I don’t know about you, but my favourite books can change with the season. I hope you have years of findinng many more favourite books to keep and then not keep before anyone’s thinking of keeping them on your behalf…


  12. September 22, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm… There are two rooms in our house that are not full of books, the rest – bedrooms, reception rooms, cellar, kitchen and a bathroom – all have walls of books. We recently made a stupendous effort to reduce and handed over some French erotic literature, Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedia and various volumes in between to Amnesty International. There is a bag near the back door (How to Raise & Train Pigeons?? and the worst novel I ever read etc) the last of several destined for a charity shop. The new space in the shelves wouldn’t impress Kondo. My powers of self-deception are such that I genuinely believe that I will get around to Chaim Weizmann’s autobiography, the Great Hedge of India or even The Luminaries… one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 22, 2019 at 11:03 pm

      If your walls and furniture are technically made of books, I think you get a pass, Hilary. But only while you can still get through your doors…


      • September 23, 2019 at 7:20 am

        Indeed, it is otherwise a poorly insulated house. I shall plead the books as an environmental measure.

        Liked by 1 person

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