Skip to content

What I Learned From Cleaning Out My Bookshelf


Yesterday I made a post called Marie Kondo, Tidying Up, and Books to discuss the controversy about her telling people to get rid of books that don’t “spark joy”. And I mentioned that I had to let go of most of my books (and clothes and everything else) because my family was moving into a smaller home.

I normally don’t follow Marie Kondo’s method. Maybe it’s because I’m a cynic with clinical depression, but most of my possessions don’t “spark joy”. Nonetheless I use them, so I keep them. If I got rid of everything that didn’t “spark joy”, I wouldn’t even have clothes on my back.

But when it comes to books, they are one of very few things that can still spark joy in me. Without even thinking about Marie Kondo’s method, I began to pick out books that can still invoke feelings inside me.

Not only was my family moving into a slightly smaller place, I was planning to move out of my parents’ home next year. I’m a broke millennial, so my apartment won’t be spacious. Plus, the moving itself would be very difficult and pricey if I had a lot of books. I decided to pare down my book collection drastically.

The Easy Part

Most of my old textbooks and test prep books were the first to go. I don’t even know why I kept them. Probably because I was lazy or something. Books that were light, killing-time reads were easy to get rid of as well. Books that I had for information but got the information I needed were to go as well. Somewhat ironically, this meant Marie Kondo’s book Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up went away as well. Thank u, next. I figured, from now on I should regularly go through my books to remove books like those.

The Not-so-easy Part

After I sorted out all the “definitely-go” books, I decided to pick out books that should stay and give away the rest. Some books, like Cosmos, definitely had to stay. Some other, like The Outsiders, I had to think about it. In asking myself whether I should keep a book or not, I learned to be honest with myself.

The Hard Part

The hardest part was letting go of books that used to spark something. Like Starseeker by Tim Bowler. Whenever I am asked what my childhood favourite book is, that is my answer. It touched me deeply when I first read it as a kid. But to be perfectly candid, I have outgrown it. Still, I was tempted to keep it because of the memories. However even if the physical book is gone, the memories remain. I don’t need to hold onto something material because the feelings sparked by the book still lives in me.

Like I said in my last post, paring down my book collection has made me appreciate books more. I recommend that everyone go through their bookshelf and ask themselves what the books mean to them. Even if you end up keeping all of them, you still learn that how much you value the books you have. And if you do give away some of them, you will have more space for new books to spark joy in you.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *