On Breathing
Friday Mailbag

Report from the Purge Trenches: The Books*

* (With a little bit of Throwback Thursday . . . well, thrown in!)

As the KonMari-ing continues full throttle here in my house, I thought I'd give you a little update.  

If you've read the book, you know that KonMari suggests beginning with your closet (check) -- and then moving on to books.  She suggests that books are easier to part with for most people.  And she intimates that most people have far more books than they'll read, re-read, use . . . or even know that they have.

In my heart, I knew that she was right.  I rarely re-read books.  And (not so much now, but in years before Goodreads), I used to purchase books that I wanted to read later . . . as "placeholders."  (So I wouldn't forget that I wanted to read them someday.)  (I used to do that with knitting patterns, too . . . pre-Ravelry.)

But, still . . . I knew that going through my books would not be "easy" for me.

I've been a Reader forever.  And, as a child, I dreamed of having a Library of my own.  

This photo is me . . . age 11.  Standing with my beloved library.  (This is the throwback part.)  Most of the books on my shelf were old books that had belonged to my mom.  A few were my own books.  (I used to get a book for Christmas each year.  And I used to live for the Scholastic Book Order at school.)  Mostly, though, I checked out piles and piles of books from the library and dreamed of owning more books someday.

Kym at 11

And, eventually, I DID grow up to have a library of my own!  In fact, one of the big selling points to me for the house I currently live in . . . was a library.  An actual ROOM with a floor-to-ceiling WALL of bookshelves.  I was in heaven.  And I just kept stuffing those shelves with books.  (And books.  And more books.)

So, I figured that sorting through those books, KonMari-style, would not be easy.

But I was wrong!  There is power in letting go.  Once begun, I filled over 20 banker's boxes with books that will soon be donated to my library's annual book sale inventory.  

Here's a photo of my library this morning . . . the aftermath.  (The books on the shelves are the books we are keeping.)  (I was so eager to begin that I forgot to take a "before" shot.)


Still plenty of books. 

I found it was easy to part with

  • books I read - and even liked - many years ago, but that I know I'll never read again.
  • books I thought I should read - but never did.
  • books I slogged through when working on my Master's degree fifteen years ago (but haven't looked at since).
  • books I used as references as my kids were growing up.
  • books I forgot we even had . . . and couldn't ever remember where they came from.

It was so freeing . . . to get rid of a thick novel . . . that I had read 30 years ago . . . (which means I've packed it and moved it to new shelves several times) . . . but haven't even opened since.  MariKon is right -- we hold on to things we think are precious.  But they aren't.  Really.

And the books we kept?

  • beloved novels
  • helpful and useful reference books
  • poetry
  • children's books that were particular favorites
  • books that inspire

I still have a dream library!  It just means a whole lot more to me now.

(Oh -- and I did find a few of those "placeholder" books that I purchased with intent to read someday . . . that I actually DO want to read.  These 4 are at the top of my to-read pile now.)  (I forgot I even owned them.)  (Sad, but true.)