In a day and age of instant gratification, aggressive marketing, and materialism, many of us are overwhelmed by the dragon hoard of clutter in our lives. It’s hard to hold back when we are confronted on almost every medium with an abundance of products and compelling marketing.
There is something so satisfying about the giant rainbow of books in creators’ videos and images in the book community. So much so that many people, myself included, feel invalid as creatives and readers, because they don’t have said rainbow of dead trees taking up an enormous amount of space in their homes (and wallets).
This materialistic issue is why I have begun writing this series, “Declutter Your (Head) Space”, which focuses on improving one’s mental space by controlling their physical space. I am a strong believer that our lived in spaces are a mirror into the mind. A cluttered space reflects a cluttered mind, and vice versa. Take control with me.
Before we get started…
There is nothing outright wrong with owning thousands of books, if it brings you joy. But, for many of us, this barricade of stories can overwhelm our minds (and our TBRs), to the point that many of us end up in a reading slump and/or our shelves don’t spark joy.
First, I would like to start off by saying that you should do whatever you want, so long as you are not harming anyone else. You can own as many or few things as you want, and nobody should tell you how to live your life. Do what makes you happy and healthy.
Second, my husband and I try to live a more minimal lifestyle, because we find that the less clutter there is the better we feel mentally and all the easier to keep our house clean. He is an expert at minimalism. I, on the other hand, am not. I have a lot of hobbies, which leads to having quite a lot of stuff. I’ve been on a journey for the last few years of slowly transitioning into a more minimalist lifestyle, but with more of a focus on organization than getting rid of things.
One of the hardest things about keeping things tidy and organized, is the upkeep. We often clean a table or a drawer, and the next thing we know it’s a huge mess by the following morning. This drives me absolutely nuts, which is why I focus a lot on making a place for everything and creating the most efficient system that upkeeps the progress I’ve made.
Our time to live is limited, so don’t waste it…
One of the most harmful parts of our society that contributes to the average person’s clutter can be summed up in one word: Consumerism
Yes, this word is overused a lot, but it’s true. We live in a time where there are more products than ever, and they are cool as glaciers! Of course it’s hard to know where to draw the line when everything is so enticing, and companies are scary good at marketing products to targeted audiences.
There are many issues with consumerism, but ultimately, do what makes you happy. You only get one short life to live. Which leads me to my next point: you don’t have an eternity to read every book that peaks your interest.
In the speck of time each of us is alive, we can only read so many books *has existential crisis*. This means we need to be extra picky about which books we give our limited time to. Additionally, physical items in our life take up space, both mentally and physically, so we should also be more selective in which ones we let take up said space.
Like the great Marie Kondo says, if something doesn’t spark joy, let it go.
How this works…
We will not focus on decluttering, but instead we will talk about upkeep. This is a method of acquiring books that will minimize clutter buildup and ensure that your shelves spark joy and inspire you to read more.
Upkeeping a library that sparks joy…
I have a method to the book collecting madness, and I hope it works for all of you as well. First, I try my very best to use my public library before anything else. If my library has the book, either physically or on their eServices, then I try to check the book out first. This supports my local library and saves me money.
Second, I use six steps to consider whether or not I should acquire/keep a book: FREE Space.
Ask yourself these questions before adding a book to your collection or holding on to one:
- Free: Can I instead read the book for free before purchasing it? Does the library have it? Is the ebook free, or do I have credits to purchase it? Does someone I know have a copy that I can borrow/trade for?
- Feel: Does it spark joy? Does it make me happy to look at? What feelings do I associate with this book?
- Re-readability: Would I read it again or keep it for my future children (only if you want kids)?
- Emotional attachment: Do I have some memory or emotional attachment to the physical item despite the story? (mostly for items you already own)
- Eager: Does it make me eager to read, because I think it will be a loved story? Am I very sure that I will absolutely love this book?
- Space: Do I have the space/can I make space? Can I find a book to get rid of that I don’t love anymore to balance out this addition?
This is how I avoid owning a ridiculous amount of books. I only buy a small handful of books every year, and I cannot stress how much money and time this has saved me over the last year. We are in July of this year and I have only added around 13 books to my physical collection. That may seem like a lot, but it is nothing compared to how many I used to buy. Of those 13, I have guessed for less than half of them that I will love them without having read the author or the book before. The rest are part of a series, are written by an author I already love, or are books I’ve already read and loved enough to want to own. Also, I have unhauled more than 13 books since the beginning of the year, so there is a sort of balance.