On getting rid of books

One of the most trending Netflix shows lately (is that how the kids say it?) is Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.  I haven’t watched it yet, but from the way I’ve heard it described, it sounds like it’s a lot like Clean House or any other number of shows where people are coached on how to remove the clutter from their houses (but not in a horrific Hoarders sort of way).  I will admit that I do have a fascination with these types of shows ever since Oprah did an episode on hoarding way back in the day, so I may check this out.

Anyway, there’s been a recent dust-up about the show when it comes to getting rid of or throwing away books.  Kondo’s philosophy is that if something does not bring you joy, you should get rid of it, and this goes for all the things on our bookshelves that may have been read and put there or bought and shelved.  There are a number of people whose feathers have been ruffled and the responses have been … well, it’s the internet and social media.  They range from fairly rational to utterly pretentious to that annoying twit in the all-staff meeting who takes 20 minutes of your time away with a question that pertains to them and only to them.

I’m putting my opinion up here because it’s my blog and nobody’s reading it anyway and because I read a couple of posts about it and it made me think about how and when to get rid of books and by extension comics.

I have no problem getting rid of newspapers and magazines–I read them, they sit around, I throw them in the recycling bin.  But books and comics get shelved or bagged, boarded, and filed.  There’s an evergreenness to them that other periodicals and publications don’t have.  Futhermore, books have always been kind of sacred in a way.  I have no problem lending them to others (even if I never get them back), but to actually get rid of one?  For the longest time, that seemed blasphemous.

Then, a number of years ago, I hit a point where I had more books and comics than I knew what to do with.  So I started culling and sold a ton of comics on eBay.  In fact, offloading comics I knew I was never going to read again (or that I would buy in trade if I wanted to) was easy.  With books, though, I didn’t think of selling those.  And throwing those out?  WHAT?!

Part of my whole project here is to embrace the mentality of letting go of what I don’t necessarily need, and that means getting more stuff out of the house as I consume it.  My book rating has a “keep, sell, donate, or trash” scale because that’s what I intend to do with the stuff after I’m done with it.  Granted, I’ve kept most of the stuff so far, but that’s because I started by reading things I knew I was going to like or at least had been looking forward to.  When I start to really get into the weeds, some of these reviews are going to get interesting.

So what to do with the books and how many do I keep?  Well, I may start getting back to an old rule I have, which was to only keep as many as I have shelf space for, so that means that a number of them will be leaving the house at some point.  I had considered getting another bookcase for my office, but I have put that off because buying a new desk is actually a higher priority and I want to cull and clean things out first.  I may take a number of the photo albums I have off the shelf and put them back in storage to make room for books, too (more on that in a future post).

Luckily, I have found that it’s incredibly easy to donate to my local library and have even brought some into my classroom.  With the exception of reference books that are horribly outdated or beaten-to-a-pulp condition, I never throw them in the recycling bin.  But I’m not above getting rid of at least something.

This is all to say that I am somewhere in the middle of the “Get rid of all the books”/”NO, you MONSTER!”  internet debate here.  I still find books to be important and on some level sacred.  I believe in holding on to the ones I love and reread and maybe sometimes I rationalize keeping one or two of them around a bit too much.  We’ll see how this plays out as I go.

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