As far as addictions are concerned, mine is both accessible and legal. It is generally socially acceptable, except on moving day when your nearest and dearest may start to feel more vindictive than understanding. You see, books are heavy.
And somehow, the acquisition has outpaced my reading speed. Many have actually worn out their welcome. But books can be hard to get rid of on both the emotional and logistical levels.
The sheer amount of books I own is kind of debilitating. I’m having trouble being thoughtful about what to keep, get rid of, and how to get rid of what I don’t want in a responsible manner.
Last year, as part of my zero waste challenge, I decided that I would “digitize my habit” and only purchase books for an e-reader. This resolution has not stuck. For one thing, e-readers work best for fiction novels. Books you read from cover to cover and don’t flip around in or refer to frequently. It is the constant need to recall specific work-related material that has also made borrowing from the library more problematic for me (though it is an excellent place to store my novels).
My preferred genre is non-fiction. The books I refer to frequently are about sustainable living, outdoors, health, zero waste, minimalism, veganism, parenting, and environmental science.
In order to tackle the excess, slow the inflow, and respect the treasures, I have adopted a new approach.
My New Approach to Books
- Read only one book at a time. Read it through. Act on it after I am done with it (finished or decided against finishing). That is, sell/donate/gift it or put it on the appropriate shelf. I notice there is less drive to purchase books after adopting this habit alone.
- Narrow down to three bookshelves: husband’s personal collection (he keeps at his discretion I don’t take from or add to), my personal books (school, work, personal growth), and family favorites (typically fiction and kids’ books).
- Utilize the library, especially for kids’ books.
- Borrow new novels from the library or purchase for an e-reader.
- Don’t let book number increase if there is no shelf space, cull to favorites.
For some of you, this may seem like a ridiculously lenient approach, but realize that this is for a family of 4 (soon to be 5), we’re living a stationary lifestyle, and the practice of minimalism is new to me having come from a hoarding history. (Full confession: I currently have 6 bookshelves in this room alone, the kids have books in their rooms, and I have a ton of unorganized, un-shelved books in boxes.)
Until next time, keep that talk walking!