Could you really declutter your *gasp* books?
As a writer I feel slightly guilty for saying this, and I don't want to get mugged by any reader librarians either, but I've recently come to the conclusion that books aren't as special as I always assumed.
I grew up with the attitude that books were almost sacrosanct as objects. I believed that whatever else you do, you should never get rid of your books, that they are your friends and that they hold your memories better than anything else.
I cherished every individual book, especially the classics, and I held onto the ones I still hadn't gotten around to reading, thinking things like, "maybe one day I'll be virtuous and literary enough to read through all of John Donne's selected poems…" and, "I'm sure Ivanhoe is a really good book so when I get some time…"
I think I was wrong.
My daughter redecorated her room over the holidays and asked to replace her brown bookcase with a white one from another part of the house.
"It's a lot smaller," I said to her anxiously. "What will you do with the books that don't fit?"
She looked at me as though she didn't quite understand what I was saying and said, "I'll just declutter." (Obviously she must read what I write about decluttering...)
An hour later she presented me with two boxes of books for the op shop.
"How did you do that?" I said.
"It's easy. I just picked out the ones I wanted and put them on the new shelf. These are the rest."
If I'd been a character in a cartoon, a little lightbulb would have appeared over my head.
"Of course!" I thought. "It's so simple. You focus on picking the ones you want and don't worry about the rest."
This week I put my newly learned lessons into practice and went through my bookshelves. The 'yes' books stayed on the shelf and the others came off (goodbye John Donne and random unenjoyed novels; stay with me Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harper Lee).
Some are headed to an op shop but others will have new homes with friends who claimed them when I advertised the titles on facebook.
Not every book is a friend and not every classic needs to stay in your house if you'd prefer to use the space in other ways. Bibliophiles, please don't shoot me on the street.