My husband and I have a goal of making our house less cluttered and more delightful, and we’ve committed take action every month to reach this goal. The ice and snow and freezing temperatures recently offered a perfect time to tackle something we both love: our books. Since we each have a love affair with reading and learning, we own an extraordinary number of books. They’re everywhere in our house, not in any thoughtful order, making it a common occurrence for me to stand in front of one of our bookcases as I try to eye the title I’m seeking, often without finding it.
It’s still a work in progress, but this past weekend was Step 1, loosely using the The KonMari Method™, which teaches to declutter by category, not by room. Thus, we began by gathering all of the books we could find for the sort. Most of our books sat on the office bookshelves, yet some were upstairs in the Barristers, in the built-in cabinets, and some were in boxes in the basement.
A few excluded books remained on the living room bookcase, like signed copies of Life of Pi and Eat, Pray, Love, my original Bloomsbury edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Women Without Superstition: The Collected Writings of the Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries; Essays by Francis Bacon ©1932; books by Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, and John Updike; the Pelican Shakespeare. The books that are in a category of their own.
The rest of the books we own were moved to one room and sorted into broad categories: history, art, self-exploration, business, philosophy, fiction, food/wine/beer, woo-woo, animals, cookbooks, etc. We didn’t count precisely, but I’m guessing it was nearly 500.
Step 2 began as we took each stack of books by category into the office and, before we put them on the shelves, we asked the question: “Does this item make me feel happy or is it useful to me?” If the answer was “yes,” from either one of us, we kept the book. It took a double “no” to discard.
Corralling all our books leading up to today’s sort-and-discard tasks had been a work in progress, and interestingly a book box from the garage that Craig brought in a few months ago the book, What Happy People Know. I’m reading it now. I practice the skill of high-noticing, so it couldn’t escape my curiosity that the The KonMari Method™ teaches about keeping only the, “things that spark joy in people’s lives,” and one of the books we kept is about finding happiness.
Oh, the irony of our letting go of books that don’t bring us joy and discovering a book on happiness in the process!
One of the books that remains on our shelf: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. While the book is a practice guide to decluttering, it’s also a treatise on how clutter darkens the energy of our physical space and reflects the state of our inner energy. Our mess is more about our state of mind and tidying is therapeutic. I recommend it for your own shelf.