Tidying Up

The other day I read an article by Summer Brennan about how hard it is to get rid of books. It was shared to Facebook by a former teacher of mine, who is now retired. Being retired, she shares a TON of interesting articles and things to her page, but this one caught my eye. I am a reader. I love books. Like many people, I not only enjoy reading books, but I enjoy having books, being surrounded by them, looking at them on the shelf just oozing knowledge and possibility. And, like many people, I find myself constantly pressed for space and books are always the first unfortunate accused of taking up that precious space.

Currently I live in a basement. I share this basement with Nate, and while it is a good and lovely and wonderful basement, it just feels packed full. Nate and I both read a lot, and have acquired many, many books. When I complain of our lack of space, the books are always first on the chopping block. “Get rid of them, you don’t need them!”, they say. Well, technically no, but I want them.

I found Summer Brennan’s article really inspiring. Brennan takes a very down-to-earth perspective on purging her bookshelf, and the reader in me was pleased that she kept so many of her books. She admits that discarding books is hard, in the title she calls it heartbreaking. I thought, if someone else who feels this way can get rid of some books, why not me?

Brennan mentions over and over the KonMari method of organizing and cleaning, detailed in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was after reading this book that Brennan chose to round up all her books and discard those that did not “spark joy” for her. So inspired was I by all this talk of organizing that I went yesterday afternoon and picked up Kondo’s Tidying Up at the library.

I finished reading it in just a few hours last night, and as soon as Nate is out of bed (or I decide that he should be) I’m going to start with my clothes, as the book recommends. Yes, I’m excited! Kondo’s idea of sorting by category seems simple, and I almost feel like I’ve done it before. Still, I don’t know that I have ever rounded up ALL of my clothes in one place, and the criteria of “sparking joy” had never crossed my mind. The criteria of “joy” feels really liberating for me. It allows me to keep my books, just because they make me happy. I won’t need to discard anything that I am not ready to release. Isn’t that a comforting thought?

One of the main tenets of the method is that you must touch and handle every item. Before you discard an item you thank it for its service to you. I also find this comforting. Even if I have to discard a book (it might not happen, right?), it won’t be because the book was a total waste, or that I was never meant to have it. It has simply already served its purpose in my life and is ready to move on. All this anthropomorphism is definitely a little kooky, but I’m ready to give anything a try. I’m ready to make peace with my basement and my books.

Off to go tidy up!


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