Hello friends! It’s that time again. Time to talk about decluttering. Have you done any decluttering or Spring cleaning at your house these last few months?
This is such a busy time of year for us, and I want to spend every free moment outside enjoying the gorgeous weather instead of hanging out inside cleaning and decluttering. Fortunately, we had a long stretch of rainy days early last month that helped me tackle our ginormous book collection.
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If you’re new, we are in the midst of a lengthy monthly series here on the blog as we move through the categories outlined in the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Since we are busy, working moms, we are taking an entire month to go through each category (one category gets two months coming up). You can find the introduction here and the post about the clothing category here. Today, it’s all about sorting through our books with the KonMari method.
I love, love, love to read. So I was really nervous coming into this month. I didn’t think there was any way I could convince myself to get rid of my beloved books. Books are so important and good. I want my children to be surrounded by good books and to develop a love for reading like me. I dream of one day having a giant library of books in my home. So beautiful and peaceful and smart looking.
Step One – Gather all the books in one place (a.k.a. – a beast of a workout).
I knew we had a lot of books. I had no idea we had quite so many books. The first step in going through your books with the KonMari method is to gather all the books from everywhere in your home and place them on the floor in one location. I learned quickly why she said the floor. I placed mine on the dining room table so I wouldn’t have to sit on the floor to sort through them. And then my family wasn’t able to eat for a week!
Step two – Separate your books into categories.
This is an optional step according to the book, but this mountain was very overwhelming to me, so I found it one million times easier to spread things out and sort the books into categories so I could figure out what all I was dealing with. It also gave me a chance to move most of the books off the table so we could have a proper meal if we wanted (who am I kidding, we rarely eat at our table anyways, shame.).
Step three – keep only the books that spark joy.
Here is what I learned during this endeavor. I love books a lot, but it is a love for books in general rather than a love for individual books. I actually can’t stand to read the same book twice. I recently borrowed an ebook copy of The Atonement Child from the library after my mom insisted that I read it. I thought it was a new book. It is a perfectly fine book, but it was driving me crazy that I could predict everything that was happening. It felt so deja vu. It wasn’t until I was sorting through my book mountain that I realized I owned a copy of the book and read it years ago!
I love books and I want to read as many books as I can. But once a book, especially a novel, has touched my life, I feel like it should be sent back out into the world for someone else. There are a number of non-fiction books I’ve read lately that I do want to revisit from time to time to refresh my memory of the highlighted passages and learn new things from. However, most of those books are in digital format now, so they aren’t taking up physical space in my home (hallelujah!).
I ended up only saving a small number of books (at least for myself). There were several books I’ve never read that I rediscovered in this experiment and really do want to read in the future, so, for now, they stayed in the keep pile to give me a chance to read them. Marie Kondo likely would have suggested that I get rid of them since I haven’t read them yet, but I had completely forgotten they existed until this project, so I think I deserve a fresh chance.
All of my textbooks went to the donation pile. I originally kept them all because I planned to be a fancy schmancy Psychologist one day and felt I needed to keep my textbooks to decorate my office (and reference once in a while I guess), but that didn’t happen, and they are all so outdated now that the internet is a better reference anyways. A couple years ago I looked them up to sell online and they weren’t even worth a penny. Sad day. My husband just graduated though, so his textbooks might actually be worth something. I’m hoping to look them up online in the next couple weeks and sell the ones that still hold value and donate the rest.
I had a lot of cookbooks. If I do happen to want to try a new recipe these days, I usually just scroll through Pinterest and pull up the recipe on my Kindle. I don’t thumb through the pages of the cookbooks in my pantry, ever. I reference three of my cookbooks for recipes we make on a regular basis, but the rest I’ve rarely if ever, used. Most of the cookbooks got the boot.
Oh, but the kid’s books. We still have mountains of kids books. Kids books are most certainly my weakness, and I feel no shame. I got rid of damaged books and books that had odd parts and stories that I didn’t want my kids reading in the first place. But otherwise, most of the kids’ books got to stay. I love reading because I always had good books to read as a child. I want my kids to have the same. Also, we read books to the kids every night. The kids might pick the same book to read every night, but if there are bookcases full of good options, I have veto power and can pick a new story to read so I don’t stab my eyes out reading the same story for months on end. 🙂
Step four – discard everything that doesn’t spark joy.
I ended up filling eight boxes with books to get rid of. I considered selling them online but decided that would take forever and I’d just end up keeping them around for years while I waited for them to sell. I also thought about putting them in a garage sale, but I have no time to set up and sit at a garage sale these days in the hopes of making a few quarters on some of the books. So, I donated all of them at a book drop. I actually had to go to two books drop box locations because I filled the first one up!
Step five – Find a good way to store the books that spark joy.
There were so few books left for the grown-ups that I was able to store them all in one place in the basement. I would still love to someday have a beautiful built-in bookshelf somewhere in our home to display a small selection of books, but for now, that is not to be. I have a bookshelf in the non-finished portion of our basement that works just fine. Since my office is in the basement, I pass by the bookshelf at least 15 times a day, so it is still very convenient. It is just around the corner from the stairs, so I even decided to put my cookbooks on the bookshelf to stick with the KonMari rule of keeping all “like” items in one specific place. I’m loving the extra space in my pantry now!
I did make the easy decision to keep kids books in their bedrooms. We read to the kids every night, so they need to be handy and convenient. I tried to separate the “younger” and “boyish” books for my son’s room and the rest go in my daughter’s room, but they all tend to get mixed up anyway. We read together as a family, so it really doesn’t matter whose room has which books at this point.
I am absolutely loving the progress I am making as I slowly work my way through the categories of the KonMari method. At this point, I’ve only sorted through clothes and books, but already our home feels lighter and freer. I don’t know if that makes sense, but having excess stuff around you feels heavy. Now that we are slowly moving out the extra and only surrounding ourselves with things that spark joy, it’s starting to feel rather amazing.
There is still a lot of stuff to go through. I’m really struggling with the categories that are coming because I know they will be hard and will take a lot of time. I think clothes and books were easy in comparison to what we have in store.
For the month of June, the assignment is papers. I was talking about it with my husband this morning and he laughed and wished me good luck. Papers are constantly coming in! The mail brings in papers, the kids come home from school with papers every day, they come home from church with papers, they make more papers just playing in the evenings, there are papers for my work, papers from my husband’s work, papers for my blog. We are drowning in new papers every single day. I’m really not sure how this category is going to turn out. We’ll also be on vacation for a big chunk of this month. But I am determined to tame the paper beast somehow before I lose my mind. So stay tuned.
Other posts in this series:
KonMari Introduction and Monthly Plan
The KonMari Method for Clothes
Taming the Paper Monster with KonMari
Your turn: How do you feel about books? Are you a read it once and done kind of person or do you like to save books and reread them in the future? Have you minimized your books with the KonMari method? Let us know in the comments.
I really need to get rid of my textbooks. We have at least a hundred books out in the garage I haven’t touched since we packed them up and moved them here – eight years ago. I’m sure I wouldn’t miss them.
Yes, we moved into our house about 8 years ago as well. I was surprised by how many books I discovered in the boxes we’ve never touched in the basement since we moved in. Definitely don’t miss them now that they are out of the house and not taking up space. 🙂
Cynthia Schrage says
I’ve been slowly getting rid of books over the years, but we do have a veritable library. We couldn’t begin to fit them all in one room, even if stacked to the ceiling. I’m already discouraged.
Oh no! I’m so sorry you’re feeling discouraged. The key is to start small and just make baby steps of progress. And most importantly, don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. I love that Marie Kondo doesn’t judge other people’s choices for what sparks joy. If you go through all of your books and you still have multiple rooms full that spark joy than that is what you should keep.