As part of this upcoming excitement, we need to get rid of stuff we don't need anymore. Old paperwork, extra computers, things we actually forgot that we had, and books.
I love books. Anyone who visits us knows right away that someone in our house loves books. We have two bookcases in our living room full of books, mostly mine, plus more books downstairs in the family room, and a few scattered piles of books begin read or soon to be read here and there. I have books that I have owned for decades, including some from my childhood, and books I bought this month. So cutting down on the number of books is a challenge.
It is perhaps ironic, but one of the biggest helps I have found in cutting back on "stuff" in general is a book! The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is unlike any book I have read about decluttering, and I have read quite a few. Ms. Kondo is enormously popular in Japan, where she has a three-month-long waiting list for her services. The book has been on the best seller list here in the U.S. for weeks.
The big difference, I think, between her book and every other organization book, is that she has a much different approach to letting go of your belongings. You must touch everything individually, and if it gives you joy you keep it. If not, you thank it for its service and let it go. It sounds strange, but it works! No more, I'll keep the dress until I lose weight, or I haven't read or finished this book, I need to keep it. She relieves us of the guilt. It's okay to let the object go; it has served its purpose for me.
Though she says to take ALL your books and put them in a pile on the floor, she also says if you have too many books to do this, you can do it by category, which is what I decided to do. I started with cookbooks - I love to cook and I have an extensive collection. I culled and reorganized - I can actually find the book I want now! Today I tackled fiction.
It is hard parting with books. Some books I know I will never reread - okay, they can go. Some books I admit that I will never read - they should go find readers somewhere else. Some books I will reread, they will stay for sure. Then there's all the in-between books - I loved it, but I won't reread it; I really want to read, but will I actually get to it?; I worked hard to put together certain collections of authors, I think I should keep those.
|My pile of fiction. The books in the bookcase are not fiction.|
So I have ended up with a big box of fiction that needs to leave my house. What do you do with books? My son snatched up the Portable Dante and my daughter put dibs on all the James Joyce for her boyfriend. A few books are going to join my class library. (If it sounds like we are such a literary family, you should know that my biggest pile of books that are staying is mysteries!)
What about the rest? I could take them to a used book store, but I think I will instead donate most of them to Better World Books, an online used book store that donates to literacy projects around the world for every book they sell. They have drop boxes in many locations.
I have also had fun using Book Crossing, also an online organization. Book Crossing lets you register your books, put a sticker inside explaining that it is a Book Crossing book, then you leave a book in some public place for someone else to find. On the Book Crossing site, you leave the information about where you left the book. The finder is supposed to check in, saying that he/she found it. Best case, you can track your former book as it travels the world! In reality, I have not "caught" any books in the wild (as they say at Book Crossing) and only one of mine has been caught and journaled. I will probably pick a couple of books to "release to the wild," but an entire box is just too many.
One of my neighbors just started a Little Free Library, a small box containing donated books. You can take a book and leave a book. I left a book there over the weekend. My whole box would be too many for the little box.
Next step - putting the many books I'm keeping back on the shelf!