Kondo suggests books are dealt with as a category of their own as many people hang on to every book they have ever read.
I remember in the 1970s and 1980s that all the erudite folk I knew had bookcases through out their homes. On the walls, going up the stairs, books in the toilet, books piled up by the bed. There was a fad for making bookshelves out of bricks stacked in piles with planks on top.
It was a way of showing you were knowledgable and wise. People came round and were impressed that you had read Proust, the Iliad and Gombrich on Art. You may also have read some good novels – Gormenghast, The Hobbit, Gunter Grasse, Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer. An AJP Taylor History of the Second World War and a Readers’ Digest book of birds. An ostentatious Oxford English Dictionary in more than one Volume. A few well known kitchen-sink plays and Cider with Rosie. If one of your A levels had been a modern language you would have French books with their tasteful restrained covers. Lots of maps from your trips to Afghanistan and the Outer Hebrides. And a few outsize books with colourful plates by Hieronymous Bosch and Andy Warhol, on their sides.
If they are still there, according to Kondo, it is time to let them go. Let someone else have the fun of discovery.
I am not that person. Years ago I decided I was never going to read the books that had supported me as I grew up and learnt about the world. I passed them all on and reduced my book collection to a few paperbacks I would read on holiday. And I made a point of handing each paperback on to another person, once read. This meant I could give them pleasure and keep my home tidy at one and the same time. Then I got a Kindle and now on holiday I just take my small reader with several books on it and I find it very convenient and much easier and lighter to hold. It gives me great pleasure to carry it in the back pocket of my jeans.
However I do have a need for a few sewing books. Not many. Just a few to help me learn new skills – draping, pattern cutting, sewing techniques, fitting. I do use these books as reference, although a huge amount is available on the internet. I have maybe 20 or so. Last time I sewed (1980s) sewing was not such a popular hobby and I had dozens of really beautiful vintage sewing, drafting and fashion books, mostly acquired for a few pence in charity shops. I got rid of them years ago, but I have a hankering for these old books which are still more or less relevant. So I admit I am starting to collect a few old books, in a sense to replace a loved, lost item…
Anyway I tidied my books this weekend, and I am pleased with my achievement. You will see my wax pot is there too. It is not exactly the right place for it. But it is a perfect spot. One nice feature of my cupboard is that the shelves are movable so I can accommodate four sizes of books. Nearly all these books are second hand, or note books, some of which I covered myself. There is one novel I bought at a station on one of those annoying buy-three-for-the-price-of-two offers. I will read it when I have finished my current book (one of the others from that special offer).
These books sit above my computer at my desk. It makes them very convenient. And when I don’t want to consult them, I just shut the door.
Do you have a library, or a hoard of books? Cookery books? Poetry? Art exhibition books? Vintage books? Books with great bindings?
The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion went for donation this time around!
I recently pared down my cookbooks to the ones I am most likely to use. My sewing, craft, knitting reference books I still want to keep. I gave away 100 or so Threads to a City and Guilds instructor, although I occasionaly still buy them.
Books do furnish a room, and provide soundproofing on party walls. They also encourage children to see reading for pleasure not a chore. That said I get mine from the library these days, though buy for others.
Do you and your readers know of http://www.littlefreelibraryproject.org.uk? May appeal to the makers and readers.
By the way I still have Gunter Grass Kerouac but not Mailer, think I only read the town hall debate with Germaine Greer?
I finally got rid of a smallish collection of unused cookery books recently, saving only the three that I regularly use, and my 2 folders of much loved, or still-to-be-tried goodies…they could be thinned down as well. Thinking about it, there are quite a few books stored upstairs that have travelled with us through three moves now, and never actually get looked at- they should go. Work-related ones could possibly go too, keeping just a couple for tuition. But oh, my novels. THEY can’t go. I read and re-read them all the time, cycling through. New additions find a place, if they’re worth reading again, or get passed along. I like my audiobooks for when I’m sewing, but the very best of those had to be supplemented by hard copies! And they make the living room, they really do. We were very unhappy at our latest move, but started to come out of out gloom once the bookshelves went up. Instant decoration!
It has been hard for me to shunt my books as I know virtually no English readers in my locality and I have that generational problem with book burning. Recently I managed to offload quite few onto a uni student. I keep sewing books, and art books, but kindle for fiction and wordy non fiction – love it!
This is a tough one for me. I very happily got rid of my student books (especially the economics ones) following study. Just this past weekend I got rid of most of my thesis materials, which had been sitting in a box. I don’t know why, but that was particularly difficult, even though I hadn’t looked at them in ten years. I suppose it was the anguish and investment that went into that research. I am starting to wonder if I have been going too far with my kondo-ing, as I gave away a bunch of other stuff from my spare room, but that will likely pass.
I have a kindle, too, that is one of my favourite travel objects, and because of many moves, my book collection is pretty small and mostly reflects novels and poetry that my mom was keeping for me at her house and dropped off when she moved away. Otherwise it`s art books and knitting books and magazines, which I consult regularly. Seeing my small collection of books makes me happy as I think of books as objects of beauty, and I often pull favourites off the shelf to seek passages or poetry that I like. I even like the ones I have never read – maybe especially the ones I have never read. Interestingly, I read this article last night, citing Umberto Eco’s apparent view of books, although the idea isn’t necessarily that lots of books is good but that it’s the things we don’t know, that we are searching to know, that matter – the accumulated un-knowledge. I am turning this idea over in my head and rather like it as a way to go forward: http://bobulate.com/post/99649001044/the-unready
Last week I took 50% of all our books to the charity shop, my husband and I were ruthless and after several boot fulls, the staff knew me by name! On my last drop off I spotted some beautiful quality lined curtains with bed spreads to match. These have been washed and are now ready to be altered to cheer up the guest bedroom. I’m a huge believer in what goes around comes around!
When we had our house interior painted about eight years ago, my husband and I threw away piles of books we had kept for decades, and moved from the East to the West coast twice! That being said, we still have a lot of books. And I will never give away a sewing book if there is even a remote chance that I will use it. But then, I’m not a Kondoite. She lost me at “paper does not bring joy.”
I love books and find it very difficult to get rid of any. I did cull quite a few unused cookery books and if I read a paperback, I now pass that on. I keep my magazine collection in nearly reasonable order; we recently got rid of lots. That’s times two, of course.
The cookery books are always so compelling with their beautiful pictures of food. But they seem to date, and get sticky, so quickly these day. I had my Mrs Beeton for years.
I like that you covered the notebooks! And love the bricks and planks bookshelves!
Did you like Kondo’s book? I liked the general idea but some of her suggestions I found… silly.
I did like the Kondo book. In fact I have really taken her to my heart. I have been doing a few sessions at work too – explaining how her approach might be helpful in the office!