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A Bookworm’s Whatever Is The Opposite of a Book Haul - My Minimalism Journey, Part 3

Photo by That Weird Girl Life
You may think that as a bookworm, that I’m also a book collector. And in the past that’s been true. But as I’ve been trying to be more minimalistic and less materialistic, I decided to take a look at an aspect of my life which I love and apply minimalism to it: books!

A Bookworm Waxes and Wanes About Their Love of Books

If you know anything about being a book lover, books are everything. Some people have switched to e-books or audiobooks, which is just fine (whatever keeps you reading! You do you, fellow bookworms!), but for me, there’s nothing like the feeling of opening up a book you’ve never read before, or smelling the pages of a brand new book, or even an old one (so musty and full of memories of the readers that have come before you and have turned those pages and discovered the story just like you are now!). Even seeing the spines of my books line my (multiple, but small) bookshelves brings me joy, knowing that stories I love or have yet to read are all there just waiting for me, to take me on adventures and stories well-known, or untold..

Have I convinced you that I’m an avid book reader yet? If so, then if that last paragraph didn’t convince you, I’m not sure anything will.

But moving on!

To Keep These Books Or Not (THAT Is The Question)

As a bookworm, you may be wondering why I want to start going through my books, to see what I want to keep and what I want to give away. And the answer is simply this: I’m running out of room.

I’m kidding! (But not really!) I really wanted to take that aspect of minimalism that by having less things, makes you appreciate them more, and apply that to my book collection. So I started asking myself those questions that one always asks when you’re thinking about getting rid of stuff (but this time applied it to books):

Is it a favorite book?

Am I ever going to reread it again? (Very important!)

Would I recommend it to someone else and let them borrow it? (But they better effing return it or else! I still remember every single person who hasn’t returned one of my books. Sigh. They know who they are!)

Am I keeping a book out of nostalgia (not because it was good) or because it was a gift (aka because I feel guilty about giving it away)?

My goal for asking all of these questions was to figure out: which books mean the most to me and which ones do I want to keep? And which ones can I say goodbye to?

(Also, please don't think that getting me rid of books makes me anti-book! I still love books, I just don’t want to be an endless collector of ones that I don’t love and don’t ever read. I’d hate to think that I’m keeping books that I don’t read that someone else could be reading and enjoying! Hence why I’m giving them away to people who will hopefully love them better than I do/did! Books are so wonderful you just gotta sometimes share them and give them a new home!)

Also, these questions led me to my favorite part of the decluttering process: going through my books and reading them (or rereading in some cases)!

You may remember that in my first declutter/minimalism journey post (which you can totally read here), I went through my DVD collection and watched a few of the movies I was unsure of, to see if I really wanted to keep them or not. I decided to do the same for some of the books I picked just to make sure I wasn’t giving away a book I really, really enjoyed and then wished I should have kept. In a lot of these cases, I’ve had these books for years and haven’t read them in years. And for most of the books, I’ve only read them once, at different points in my life, and decided that I liked them enough to keep them. But much like my movie collection, where I also bought movies at different points in my life, my tastes and and even life experiences have changed what I liked or what I related to. It was now time to go back through some of my old favorites to see if they were still favorites or if they were just book phases I was going through.

Photo by That Weird Girl Life
Deciding What I Want to Keep Vs. What I Want to Give Away, Featuring An Example Or Two

One great example of this is when I was first going through my books and my eyes stumbled upon Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. I remember reading the book years ago and being so affected by it. At the time, I had gone through a couple of break-ups as a young adult, and being young and hurt, Min’s letter to Ed spoke so true to me at the time. It was both painful and eloquent, as only the words of a teenage girl’s can be (as written by the fantastic Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket). For some reason though, when I decided to reread it, I was positive I was going to give it away afterwards. Why? I just figured that my young, love-obsessed teenage self was over all the drama of teenage break-ups and wouldn’t be able to relate. I’m an adult now, after all.

I then went on to reread the book after years of just remembering bits and little parts from the book. But what surprised me the most is how emotional I felt while reading it. I may not be a lovestruck teen anymore, but I felt and remembered how hurt you can be from a first love, that “us against the world” vibe every teenage couple goes through, and how much I could still relate to how much a breakup can turn your world upside down and also how much you can learn from it too. So, surprisingly, I decided to keep it! Even though I may not be that young heartsick Emily that I was when I first read the book, it still had an impact on me when I read it, just a different one now that time has roughened me (I kid. Or do I? I swear my heart is slowly turning to stone).

Another example of the opposite kind is when I reread I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. I actually read this book way before The Book Thief was popular (I’m such a book hipster!), and I remembered loving it. I thought it was so deep and different. So when I saw it at a used bookstore, I took that opportunity to pick up a copy. And then didn’t read it for years! Obviously it was time for me to reread it and see how amazing it was.

And it was... okay. Not as great as I remembered. The book had a great sense of humor to it, and was thought-provoking and could be quite poignant at times, but the overall story and then the end completely depleted the story for me, and I left feeling more meh than inspired than I had before. Into the give away pile it goes! (Sorry, Markus!)

A Brief Soliloquy About How Magical I Find Books 

But it really makes me wonder about the power of books: how they can make such an amazing impression on us at one time, and may still years later, but they could also fall flat on a repeated reading. It’s like the magic of the written word only works at one time, or else the magic stays with that book and person forever. Maybe a new way to think about these books should be One Time Books, books that leave an impression on you the first time you read them, at the right exact time, but you can’t relate after you’ve gone through what you went through, and Forever Books, books you read at the perfect time, and still continue to cast a spell on you whenever you read it, no matter how many times you’ve read it. (Can we make this a thing? I feel like I’ve discovered something and that this theory needs to be shared!)

Photo by That Weird Girl Life
(Okay, Now Back to Business)

But now onto the books in my collection that I decided to give away! This is only my first sweep (I’m sure there will be many more! I have quite a few books in my collection), but it took me a little bit. I mean, reading books takes a bit more time than watching movies! Most of these books I reread and enjoyed, but decided that I didn’t need to own them. They just weren’t going to be ones I’m going to turn to again and again to read out of comfort or nostalgia or adventure. But I know that I can always reread them via the library, e-books, or even by borrowing them from a friend. But I am grateful to (most of) these books for the adventures, distractions, and good stories and characters that they entertained me with. (Though some of these books were kind of stinkers and I don’t thank them for being sort of time wasters. Ahem. To each their own and they just weren’t my taste. And I will be nice and not point out the titles of the books I didn’t like! I’m very benevolent that way. You’re welcome, authors!)

List of Books I’m Giving Away:

Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
It Gets Worse by Shane Dawson
Sold by Patricia McCormick
The Minister’s Daughter by Julie Hearn
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Newt Scamander: A Movie Scrapbook by Rick Barba
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crime of Grindenwald Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
Planet Cat by Sandra Choron, Harry Choron, and Arden Moore
How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

Photo by That Weird Girl Life
And with that, I now have gotten rid of (or am going to get rid of) 17 books! I didn’t include a couple of advanced readers' copies that I received for free, since you’re not allowed to sell them (just donate!) and I need to find a good place to donate them where they won’t be sold. And who knows, maybe by the time this blog post is published, I’ll have added some more books to my “give away” pile!

For now, I have a solid start for going through my home library! I feel good knowing that I’m getting rid of books and that they’ll hopefully go to homes and owners where they’ll be loved and appreciated (as all books should be! I mean, not all books, but most books are good, with a few exceptions). And going through my books has also made me realize that in order to keep my collection nice and tidy and special, I need to stop my book impulse buying (as fun as it is!). A lot of the books I ended up giving away were the impulse buys I bought on a whim. Sometimes because the cover and description caught my eye, or maybe just because I was bored, had money to spend, and wanted something to read. Now, if I want to read a new book, I can always get it from the library (it’s free, baby!) or borrow it from someone else. And if I end up loving the book and feel like I can’t live without it until it’s in my personal library, then I can buy it! Plus, it’ll save me money and keep those times when I buy books special and a great moment when I can add a new book to my collection. I get so happy just thinking about it! Wheee!

My Tips For Decluttering Your Book Collection:
  1. Decide what books you want to keep by thinking about why you want to keep them. Also, are you ever going to read them again? (The answer should be yes!) Or are they just taking up space and collecting dust? Decide what you want your library to be like (aka filled with books you love and want to read) and then start decluttering!
  2. It’s okay to reread a book if you’re unsure about keeping or getting rid of it. I actually highly recommend it! Your opinion of it may have changed, good or bad, so it’s good to be reminded of the story, the characters, and the writing. You never know, a book you thought was so-so could be much better than you remembered! Or it could be just the opposite and you need to say bye-bye to a book you once thought was awesome but now just falls flat.
  3. Think about what you want to do with the books you don’t want anymore so they don’t pile up and gather dust (again). Consider all the options: donation (thrift stores, charities, your local library, schools, prisons), selling or trading them (online or at your local used bookstore), or even just giving them away to a friend or family member who’s going through a reading slump! A certain book may not be for you, but it could be the perfect book for someone else! (But remind your friend that if they don’t want to keep the books, to pass them along or donate them once they’re done!)
  4. Just because you decluttered your books once doesn’t mean that this is the last and only time you’re going to go through your books! You will most likely go through them several times over the course of your life, because if you’re a bookworm like myself, you’re probably going to acquire lots of books over your lifetime (from gifts, impulse buys, and when you buy a book you think you love but then you change your mind. It happens, trust me, I understand). So don’t be afraid to go through your books every once in a while and give your bookcase(s) a spring cleaning/decluttering!
  5. Beware of impulse buying! Try borrowing books from the library or a friend before you decide to buy a book. Knowing that you love the book and that you want to read it again before you buy it will definitely help keep your collection from getting too cluttered and filled with books you don’t really care for or will ever read again.
Photo by That Weird Girl Life
And this was my first foray into the world of decluttering my book collection! (Well, not really, but the first time I’ve documented it) Trust me, I still have a lot of books in my library (I know that 17 books doesn’t seem like a lot to give away considering how many books that I have left, but it’s still impressive to me!), but now I know that a lot of these books that I have left are still special to me and that I’ll still want to read them again in the future (or let others borrow them. Again, they better give them back! I forgive, but I never forget!). I can’t wait to do another decluttering book rereading session in the future. Basically, it’s just another excuse for me to read, and I’m not mad about that!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever gone through your own library collection and how it went! What books did you give away and why? Did you reread any of the books to determine which ones you wanted to keep? Also, what tips would you give others who wanted to declutter their book collections? Let me know in the comments and what you thought of my post! (Aka my ramblings!)

Stay Weird,
Emily


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2 comments on "A Bookworm’s Whatever Is The Opposite of a Book Haul - My Minimalism Journey, Part 3"
  1. Great tips on decluttering your books! I've always been a library bookworm, so I only own about 5 of my absolute faves.... But I can't even imagine how hard it would be get rid of a bunch of books that you really love! :)
    Jenna ♥
    Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post! This is a great in depth look at how to declutter your books without being entirely ruthless (like some people recommend). Thank you! You've inspired me to rethink my collection (/overwhelming hoarding of books haha). I especially appreciate the tip on "would you reread this?" as that should really be the only reason you keep a book, right?

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