Els' Rabbit Trails, joys of reading, Uncategorized

The Great 2018 Book Purge.

Great Book Purge a bit of an exaggeration, but there will be a thinning. When it’s done I’ll fill you readers in on the final tally. It is the time of year when I begin my year-end cleaning blitz. I suppose fall is when I tackle the equivalent of Spring Cleaning.

I am not much of a spring cleaner. In springtime, my energy is mostly directed towards end of school year activities both in my house and out of it. There are a few annual checklist items, such as calling HVAC companies, pest control, and sprucing up the yard after winter, such as winter is here. But deep spring cleaning? It’s just not my thing.

For me, fall cleaning is where it’s at!  Since we are finally getting a taste of fall (and by fall I mean daily highs below 85), my sudden itch to begin the New Year with an organized, deeply cleaned house is ready to be scratched. With that comes the dreaded task of figuring out which books to keep and which ones to toss.

As I noted in my review of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, as much as that process speaks to the rabid minimalist inside me, I don’t live alone. Ruthless purging would be an extremely challenging undertaking, fraught with family drama not worth the rewards. I purge little by little, one closet, cabinet and bureau at a time.

However, I am in charge of 90% our library. I could, theoretically, pare down to the 30 books Marie Kondo suggests. I won’t because it’s not a feasible solution for our family, but I could. This article from Lithub explores the emotional connection bibliophiles have to books and the angst that can comes with deciding which ones “spark joy” and which should be tossed on the pile. Some books really are one and done reads, or books we acquired knowing full well we might never get to them; not now or in the future. For the true book lover, however, it is not as simple as that. From the Lithub piece:

It occurred to me that part of the reason why tackling the “books” stage of the Full Kondo seems so daunting is that to many of us our books don’t really belong in the category she has assigned. They are not impersonal units of knowledge, interchangeable and replaceable, but rather receptacles for the moments of our lives, whose pages have sopped up morning hopes and late-night sorrows, carried in honeymoon suitcases or clutched to broken hearts. They are mementos, which she cautions readers not to even attempt to contemplate getting rid of until the very last.

To be fair, Kondo no longer thinks that ripping books to pieces is a good idea, but it’s telling to learn that she herself once did this to save space. Keeping parts of books might make sense if your entire library consisted of cooking or craft manuals, but sounds completely crazy when applied to novels or narrative nonfiction. Which chapters of Anna Karenina or In Cold Blood would you keep, for example? The picture Kondo paints is a bleak one, referring mostly to business books and textbooks, to “studying” and “necessary information.” The “classics” she refers to are not Dickens and Brontë but “authors like Drucker and Carnegie,” a management consultant and an industrialist, respectively. With no offense to those two illustrious professions, I am not very shocked that these didn’t “spark joy.”

None of this is to say that there aren’t books book lovers should be willing to dispose of. I suspect I will shed at least 30. That’s not even counting at least 20 on the shelves that were borrowed from or dropped off by friends and need to be returned. I have as many books floating around also. Either way, purging 50 books (well, maybe 40) is better than none.

I’m not sure how this round will end, but I am hopeful. Because I am currently gripped with the urge to purge nearly every space in the house that is within my domain, I think I’ll get rid of quite a few. I expect I’ll even lose a few that I never thought I’d part with, but there does come a point when you have to accept that you’re probably never going to pick up a certain books a finish it, and that there’s a reason for that.

Analyzing why certain books land on the pile might be a fun mental exercise, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “The Great 2018 Book Purge.”

  1. I purge books very rarely….but that said, I need to get about that business. Hopefully as my kids get into college, part of the problem disappears as they take their favorites with them. That noted, there are a bunch of books where….let’s just say they’ve seen better days, or we’ve moved on from when we thought they were worthwhile. On the flip side, one of my problems is that I’ve got a fair number of books that really are worth reading.

    My favorite book purge ever–and believe it or not, my wife’s–was when I looked through the Christian self-help books and found about a dozen books, mostly relationships books, which were just so profoundly a-Biblical or even un-Biblical that the only place for them was in the trash. We are so often our own worst enemies in “fundagelicalism” that it’s not even funny.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ruthless purging would be an extremely challenging undertaking, fraught with family drama not worth the rewards.

    Hah. My family hates me for this. Ruthless is the right word. Don’t use it in 12 months? Gone. Use it or lose it. Or scan it.

    One physical book I could never trash is the monster Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Price. Not on Kindle. Guess what? I just found it free as online PDF! Now I can even listen to in TTS. Another one bites the dust! My goal: to die with nothing but my clothes and digital remains…zero residual presence…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite book purge ever–and believe it or not, my wife’s–was when I looked through the Christian self-help books and found about a dozen books, mostly relationships books, which were just so profoundly a-Biblical or even un-Biblical that the only place for them was in the trash.

    Been there, done that a few times. It’s astonishing the things that sound good until you disconnect from the noise and look at it…really.

    Like

  4. If I could get away with it, yes. I would be ruthless. When there a lot of people in the house it is easy to accumulate stuff.

    I recall that you are not much interested in keeping hard copies of books, which means you don’t have this dilemma.

    Like

  5. MB: We are so often our own worst enemies

    Aw, cut yourself some slack. I often read some books from 20 ya amazed how stupid I was…then wonder? Maybe that crazy stuff got me to where I’m at now. Then I think…what am I going to think about my self now if I live another 20 years? It’s exciting.

    Like

  6. I love me some books, but when I did the Kondo treatment to my house, I cleared up shelves and shelves of space, which I used to reorganize – badly needed. Do I have only 30 books? -rolls on floor laughing- NO. Did I try to emulate her? No. I got rid of books I didn’t care about.

    Mind you, the thrift shop got about half of my trunk-area in my crossover full of books, but I still have plenty.

    I kept: Casual fiction I really like – but just a few shelves. (I now keep most of my casual fiction in e-book form), I kept the beautiful leather-bound volumes and volumes of classics inherited from FIL, Bible books, sewing books, gardening books (mostly), and books-that-aren’t-mine-to-sift. (DH sifted those this Spring, which was awesome).

    Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.