As a minimalist, this is THE billion dollar question: do you declutter your books? Short answer: no, I don’t. Thus, am I still a minimalist? And why do I make this choice? Do other people act the way I do? Lets open the discussion!
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Books as a “special item”
I feel like most book lovers somehow share this idea: books are not regular items. Of course, they are inanimate objects, but they are different in so many ways from a mug or a spoon… aren’t they? Some of us even refuse to lend books, which might become the topic of a future discussion post if you would love to. I have heard several people say that books “have a soul”, and even though I am not sure of the actual meaning of that sentence, a part of me agrees in the sense that books are definitely “special”. I feel like they kind of inherit from a part of their author’s soul and feelings: that is how words make me feel. Thus, I think I can understand the point of view of the ones who say books “have a soul”.
Old books and Heritage
Another reason that explains why books tend to be so hard to get rid of is their value. I am not only talking about monetary value here but more accurately about their value as a piece of History. Of course, some of our books have been printed yesterday (more or less) and seem to be of no historical value – even though they will definitely become the “oldies” of tomorrow’s readers –, but some of our books are 100-200 years old and thus, they do embody History itself. As a woman who studies written Heritage in the context of her master’s degree, you must believe me when I say that I could never throw away an older book – even an ugly one. At the very least, I would sell/give it to a book shop specialized in old books. I can understand that some people are just not materialistic when it comes to books but regarding older books, please try considering them as the piece of Heritage they are . They may look bland and unimportant but know that for researchers like me, they do matter a lot.
The in-between option
I thus definitely understand why throwing books away may get tricky. However, I have an in-between option for those of you who would love to declutter but still can’t find a way to do it. Why not giving your books to a library? Let me explain: some of the books we buy are just not enjoyable for us, right? Then, why not only keeping – as the little treasures they are – the books we have loved, while giving away the books we have not enjoyed that much? As a librarian, I can tell you for sure that the book you did not love might be someone else’s favorite one – and we are always so happy when people bring us books. I think it is a great compromise as you still choose to keep the books that brought you joy, while getting rid of the ones that did not (but without having to feel the pain of throwing them away.
As you have probably understood, I am one those persons who struggle to get rid of books. The mix between my minimalist-self and my librarian-self is sometimes very hard to combine and thus, books are items I am the worse at decluttering. As I wrote in that post, I do not think it has to be a problem: minimalism is not supposed to feel like a chore. However, I find it quite funny to notice how hard it can be for me to get rid of that item even though getting rid of clothes (for instance) is the easiest task in the world.
I would really love today’s post to be a discussion post, thus feel free to tell us in the comments what you like to do with your read books. Do you throw them away? Do you lend them? Or do you keep them preciously? I can’t wait to read your answers,