"Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?”
Sitting among all of the hundreds of books gathered from every corner of my house, I recently began the sorting of books, one by one. My task: hold each book and ask myself if it sparks joy or not. If not, then it went in the donate pile.
It took hours one morning and by the end my emotions were spent from the sentimental experience of the work but I did it. In the end, I sat and stared at the small pile of books we chose to keep: a handful of books for me and Bobby and the few piles of children's books.
That was it. The books that truly make us happy right now.
The rest, the donate pile of 3/4 of our books, consumed our living room...
Roughly 300 books towered the "donate pile" (picture below). Some were very easy to get rid of that don't really touch our lives. Others, though, required some deep searching of my heart--Had this book already brought me joy and I no longer need it? And what about this children's hardback picture book that I've spent some of my most precious mothering hours reading to every single one of my children--even if we've moved on from it's story what happens to all of those sentimental memories if I get rid of it??
And what about all of those books I asked for and was given as gifts or that I bought with my own money when I was super into the subject--some I've read and others I haven't even cracked open??
I picked up a few cookbooks and took a decision-making break to flip through them. One particular baking book made me stop in my tracks. I could see cake batter stains on one heavily used recipe page. This book had taught me the very beginning lessons of baking. It gave me the confidence in the kitchen when I was smother to just my toddler Caroline. I baked a thousand times from this book. So many emotions and memories came back from years of its use. I sat there and cried.
How in the world could I let this book go?If I'm honest with myself, it does not spark joy-- anymore.
I use it from time to time. Well, not too much lately. But there's the memory of what it's given me and what it's always represented in my life.
"No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.”
Surprisingly, I shut the book, held it firmly in my hands, and thanked the book aloud for all of the memories of happy kids at breakfast from its' recipes, many lessons it taught me in the kitchen, and the sheer comfort of its pages for so many years of my mothering. I then walked over and put it in the donate pile, knowing very deeply that what had once brought tremendous joy had served its purpose then and now I could let go of it.
For books, timing is everything. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small.” ― Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
It is the most incredible feeling to only keep the books in our life that spark joy now. We have donated two bookcases and our large living room bookcase now has many empty cubbies. (Cubbies that now will hold library books.) I can't even begin to tell you how freeing it is.
As I tidy, I am increasingly surrounded only by what I need and love right now. If I had a book cluttering my house all those years and never read it then my lesson learned from that particular book was it wasn't important enough. The lesson I've continued to learn is that life without all the extra "stuff" means we love what we do choose to keep. Like our current favorite children's books--enjoying what we've kept and loving the space/freedom from the books we only half loved/read.
What about you?
What would happen if your home only held the books that spark joy in you and your family?
How would your daily tidying change?
Your peace within yourself + in your home?
Take one step towards simplified living and try it out. And watch the impact create further changes in your life.
Go out + live boldly!