Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Minimalist Library Mindset

I'm a bookworm... And an advocate for a tiny library!

How many books have you read in your life? How many of them have you read twice or more times? You could probably count them on one hand, two if you're lucky.

What about your 'grab in a fire' books? Assuming your home library is close to your fire exit but you still just have time to grab and go... Which book/s would you pick? I'm assuming there's only one or two titles that pop into your mind at such short notice.

Most book-lovers tend to hoard books because they could never let a book go, they say, both possessively and also with a kind of pride. So they buy another bookcase, spend more hours dusting over, under and around books (as well as the books themselves!) and continually add more titles to their collection. I have often come across avid readers with piles of still-unread books sitting around their homes, apparently not tantalising enough as they always get left behind for another day.

I once read this particular pearl of wisdom that I'm about to share. I believe I came across it in a book by Marie Kondo, the advocate for keeping only that which we love. Kondo suggests that unless a book is read immediately after we come across it and buy it/loan it, the probability is we never will get around to reading it at all. Now Kondo is a practical guru most of the time, and she would totally understand if you were leaving your book untouched because of more pressing matters such as exams, family commitments or more important reading material such as research for work or school. But the truth of it is, sometimes there is no real reason other than that we're always finding a more-interesting book to read than the one in the pile. In which case I agree with the KonMari method of letting it go. Another observation she makes in one or both of her books is that the less books we have in our reading pile, the more likely it is that we will read and enjoy the reading process. Because a pile reflects on the mind as a chore, as an unfinished business, making it less than enticing.

Given I was willing to try anything at least once when it comes to a Minimalist approach to things, I did start keeping only those unread books that still give me butterflies to think of. Just like anyone else, I must sometimes leave intriguing novels untouched for a while after purchase or after I borrow them out of the library as I always first read work-related books. However, we all know deep down which text will resonate with us, which one we will pick up with trembling hands once we have the time to read it through, and which ones have lost their allure since that trip to the bookstore many moons ago.

In the same way, even once read, a book is not automatically given a pass to my bookshelf. To get there it must have not only been interesting and received a good mental (or literal) review from my side. More than that, it must be one of the following:

a) something I plan on rereading as it was so fab
b) a film tie-in edition book as those I collect as part of my film-related memorabilia
c) a book that was so awesome that even should I never get around to rereading it due to remembering all the details in it for years on end, made such a wow read that I want to often be able to hug it like a friend (yes, call me weird but I have hugged books!)

Even after all of this, some books make it to my bookshelf for a while and then find themselves going to a new home anyway. Why? Because as an individual I change over the years, and what was once a story I would want to reread over and over again might now have lost its appeal in light of a new discovery, new material, new outlook on my part. I put this much more eloquently in the following post from a while ago:

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