Before I get into this post, I need to give you all a disclaimer. I love books. Love them. What follows may sound like the rantings of an illiterate, tome-burning novelphobe. I can promise you that is not the case. Not very long ago, my bookcase tenants numbered in the hundreds. Choosing which books to downsize was like a mother choosing which child to give up for adoption. Okay, poor analogy. But you get my drift.
There’s something special about books, as possessions go. Say what you will about shoes, shot glasses, and creepy-as-heck porcelain dolls, but books are the ultimate collectable. We form emotional bonds with them. They don’t feel like objects – they feel like relationships. It’s no wonder that they are nearly impossible to downsize.
With that being said, I now find books on a shelf to be one of the saddest things in the world. Since becoming a minimalist, books have evolved in my mind from decorative safety blankets to truly functional, purpose-filled tools. Within my new paradigm, books are to be read, and then they are to be shared. My books never did either when they were a part of a huge library.
Jack and I had to start the book-downsizing process with (say it with me) changing the way we think about books. We didn’t want to have a shelf full of “napping” books. We wanted our books to fulfill their purposes. Therefore, we made a decision to not hang onto books we weren’t currently reading. If the book was being read, it was fulfilling its purpose. If it wasn’t, it needed to fulfill its other purpose – being shared. Some were shared indiscriminately via Goodwill or the local library. The more special ones were given to specific friends.
With each book we considered sharing, we asked ourselves the following questions:
1. Did this book change my life? If so, do I believe it can change someone else’s?
- If the answers to both these questions are yes, the book went in the “give to friends” pile.
- If the first answer is yes, but the second answer was no, it went in the “donate” pile.
- If both answers were no, it went in the “donate” pile.
2. Have I read this book more than twice?
- If the answer is yes, it went in the “give to friends” pile.
- If no, the “donate” pile.
3. Is this book available in digital form, or at my nearby library?
- If yes, “donate” pile.
- If no, refer to question one.
Currently, our library consists of 12 books. That number will get smaller before we move. While parting with books still feels sad, knowing that our books will be “living” rather than “hibernating” on our shelf makes me very, very happy.
Have you ever dealt with downsizing books? How did you handle it?