So many people want to declutter but cannot let go of books. Any of their books. I move house fairly often and I can tell you that boxes of books are really heavy and dusty! They have to be packed, carried downstairs and loaded onto a van. Unloaded, carried upstairs then unpacked by me. Some books I owned were just not worth the bother. After one move, three boxes of books remained boxed up for over two years.
I’ve had the following conversation several times with people and the most common responses are “Nooooooo! Why would I want to do that? I could never get rid of any of my books! They mean too much to me. I might read them again. I would regret it”
- Is there a person inside your head who judges your book collection? If you had fewer books, would they disapprove?
- If someone took away one book a day, how long would it take you to notice?
- Would you know which ones were missing?
- Would you miss them?
- For the prize of a thousand pounds/dollars, could you whittle your collection down to one bookcase or shelf of your absolute favourite books?
- Imagine you can take only twenty books with you when you move abroad. How do you feel about leaving the other books?
- Is it sentimentality, cost, status, perceived value, it was a gift, they are a collection?
- If you love it and will read it again, then keep it.
- If you don’t, then why are you holding onto it?
- If you loaned your copy of a book to a friend, and never got it back, would you buy it again?
- Does your ‘to read’ pile never seem to go down?
- Will there never be the right time to read certain books you own?
- If you knew that someone else wanted to read a book that you owned, and you probably wouldn’t get around to reading it, would you give/sell it to them?
- Letting go doesn’t have to happen all at once. You didn’t acquire them all overnight, so the cull doesn’t have to be dramatic.
- Books are meant to be read, not to gather dust. There is barely enough time to do everything you need to do, so don’t feel guilty about not finishing a book.
I’m not heartless. I get the struggle. I do keep some books from childhood with my name and class neatly written inside. I bought first-editions of future classics by accident that I can’t bear to part with. Pangs of memories forgotten of old train or concert tickets used as bookmarks. Those expensive signed hardbacks where I queued for two hours to get two minutes with the author.
I’m into audiobooks now, so have digital clutter to contend with, and unlike my spare room, I have a very restricted amount of storage.