Do your books need to spark joy

As for culling one’s unread books – while that may be essential for reducing fire and tripping hazards, it is certainly not a satisfying engagement with the possibilities of literature. (Unless it’s self-help or golf, in which case, toss it.) Success is, eventually, actually reading your unread books, or at least holding on to them long enough that they have the chance to satisfy, dissatisfy or dement you. Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.

I tend to agree. I don’t possess self-help or golfing books (I find the former useless and the latter irrelevant), but the books I do possess, I intend to read. (I know I can’t possibly read all of them, there aren’t enough years.) I’ve got to live and do stuff and write and so on.

I want to cling on to my books as long as I can though, and think I shall allow myself a few years more of bookish clutter.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more . We took a break for the holidays but will be back for the new year! Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of January 25!

To me, books are like dear, old friends. There’s a measure of comfort and memories about them that makes it hard to get rid of them. (Because I’m not the kind of person that throws away friendships.) I think the fact that the story does kind of prompt the imagination to “see” experiences in a way similar to real memories has something to do with the attachment. Having said that, I have read the Mari Kondo book and the show is bookmarked in my list. And I’m in the midst of a divorce, so I have no choice but to weed down a three-bedroom home into what will eventually fit into a one-bedroom apartment. I haven’t weeded my books yet, but I have bookshelves in every room except the bathroom. I was an English literature major in university, so I even have my old course books for classes like Shakespeare, drama lit, world lit, linguistics, etc. I know it’s going to be an awful and painful job when I get to it.

But since it’s the memories of reading the stories I cherish, and not the object itself, in most cases, I plan to do with my books what I’ve done with the other items that I’ve not truly be ready to let go of — take a picture. I’ve found that if I can take a picture of something I’m about to release, it’s a bit of a comfort. Chances are I will never need the picture. I may never even look at it again. But digitized like that, it can remain in my “library” without taking up real space. I am one of those people who always wanted a ceiling to floor library in my “forever future home”. But it’s just not going to happen. So, digital libraries are the next best thing. 🙂 (And that includes converting to ebooks for new books and using the library more often for books I can probably find again — like the works of Shakespeare. I will probably be very select about the books I’m hanging onto that I haven’t read yet. But some are just favorites that will have to be pried from my cold, dead hands: Clockwork Orange, anything by Tolkien, my Anne Rice collection including a signed edition, etc.

I haven’t seen any of the Marie Kondo books or TV shows, but it’s impossible not to hear about them from friends. Completely separately from that movement, I did just go on a purge of my books over the holidays. It was something I’d been meaning to do for years. For me, it was the multiple shelves of books from my previous academic career, the one that I have to accept that I will never resume, that I am on another path now, for better or for worse. These books have been taking up a huge amount of space in my small apartment, and have been weighing heavy on my soul, too. When I finally faced up to it, it was cathartic to go through them and toss all the ones I knew I’d never read again, and keep only those few that still had meaning to me. My hope is that even though they are out of date by now, I can pass them on and someone else will find them useful — that they can bring someone else joy, as they once filled my mind with answers and possibilities.

While I was reorganizing and databasing all my books (which was great), I found other books that did not bring me joy, that I had no interest in ever revisiting, and it gave me peace to toss those in the “give away” boxes too. Plus quite a few duplicates, bought when I didn’t realize I already owned that book — ouch! It made room in my home for the books that I *do* hope to read again someday, and now they are organized and orderly on the shelves, and I smile every time I look at them.