Marie Kondo and I part company when it comes to books. Okay, not totally, but you can tell she’s not a true reader (30 total volumes in her collection? HA!). Either that or I’m just abnormal, which to be fair, is probably true.
See about 90% of the books I own are books I reread.
I’m a librarian with access to a pretty robust interlibrary loan system. We now live in an age where it’s pretty damned easy to find obscure stuff for comparatively little money. So if I just want to read something, it’s not that hard for me to get my hands on it.
If it’s going to go on my shelves, it has to be something I’ve read before and turn to again and again.
That said, I was game to try the KonMari method with my books. She’s certainly right about moving stuff into one place and about holding each item. And there’s a thing called weeding that we do in librarianship. Book lovers have a tough time with this concept, but basically it means you cull through your collection and you pull items that are no longer relevant to you, that are damaged, that maybe you don’t really love so much anymore. (Essentially the KonMari method).
But I have a lot of books.
She offers these four subcategories:
- General (books read for pleasure)
- Practical (reference, cookbooks)
- Visual (e.g. photograph collections)
Because I am incapable of going purely by her methods here are my subcategories:
- Children’s books
Today I did non-fiction. And as you can see from the photo above, I have rather a lot of non-fiction. An entire bookcase filled with it. Plus about 3 shelves from other locations. And when I say “filled,” I mean crammed, jam packed, wedged in there with no room to breathe.
But despite my misgivings, it wasn’t as hard as all that. There were some things that I knew could go right away. They had sparked joy at one point, but no longer. There are books that are meant to be things of the moment. You read them and then you’re done.
The other thing I found myself weeding were a lot of fandom-related items. I’ve always been interested in movies and TV (you will pry my copies of The Parade’s Gone By, Lulu in Hollywood and John Kobal’s People Will Talk from my cold, dead hands), but again tastes change, times change. When I was younger, if you wanted to read about obscure TV shows, you had to work at it. It’s not like today where you can go online and pull up image after image, digitized interviews from the 60s, and episode guides. No, you went to comic book stores or cons or wrote away to get vanity-press, poorly copy-edited books because there was nothing else out there. Now if I want to find pictures of Patrick McGoohan or read about The Man from U.N.C.L.E, I can do that with much greater ease online. Out they went.
I had about 5 huge books of poetry anthologies from college, which I had kept because they’d been expensive and also they seemed like the books people should have. Except that I don’t like poetry at the best of times and I’m kind of desperate for space.
Let’s go back to my second last sentence, “. . . also they seemed like the books people should have.”
There’s a dirty little truth in there that I’m starting to notice is a recurring theme in my life. I have things for all these lives that I want to live, but which I really don’t. For instance, I thought I might want to be a writer when I grew up and I vividly recall reading some interviews with various authors where they spoke of the tools of their trade. Now, you need to realize that this was from a pre-Internet era and an author having a bookcase of commonly used reference titles, well, that made sense. And somewhere in my teenage head, I got this notion that if I had the bookcase of reference books, well, that would make me a writer. Here it is decades years later, and I’m not exactly sitting in my book-lined study pounding out novel after novel and I certainly don’t use those reference books. No sparked joy, no room on my shelves. Needless to say, some of those things got culled.
So here’s the after.
Four packed boxes are in the trunk of my car for donation. While the bookcase is filled, everything has a little more room. No more books piled on top of books. Of the three extra shelves, I cleared about 2.5. I’ve got all my knitting books on one of the other shelves. Once I’m done with the other subcategories, I plan to reevaluate and do a little more shelf-shifting, but so far? This has not been nearly the hell I feared. Of course, I still have to do fiction . . .