This weekend I found some free time to sort through the things I still had in my parents’ house. I had a bunch of old tech gadgets, some papers from back in high school (ridiculous), and a box full of books. I took an entire car load of stuff to Goodwill, and threw out and recycled a bunch more! I narrowed down photos like crazy, and enjoyed a bit of memory lane along the way. I now have a single shelf of keepsakes that felt appropriate to leave at their house, and all that was unneeded is gone.
letting go of books
I want to talk specifically about the books I narrowed down. I had looked through those books before, and trimmed down the collection a bit here and there. But there were a few I always kept, because the topic interested me and I had genuine intentions to read it eventually. A few that come to mind in this category were a psychology book from college and a financial planning book by Suze Orman.
Some of these books I’d had a few years and some even longer, and yet I never found time (read: prioritized) to read them. “But some day I will!” I thought. “This is something I would like to know more about!”
Today, I finally decided to just get rid of them. And here’s why: holding on to a book, even one that’s interesting, feels like a homework assignment.
Books about financial planning for example, are books one “should” read. “It’s important to know about that stuff” we tell ourselves.
But we aren’t getting any wiser with it sitting unopened on the shelf. And the distant nagging every time we pass by certainly doesn’t help either.
If I haven’t read it, I probably don’t want to
If I don’t truly want to read something right now, what are the chances I’ll want to read it later? I had been keeping these books betting that future-me would feel differently than present-me.
It’s like the tip I’ve heard about clothing: if it’s not something you’d buy in the store today, don’t keep it. We tend to give an inflated sense of value to items we already have, even if we wouldn’t even buy them today if we had the chance!
Trust what you feel today, and don’t let yourself be unrealistic about the future.
I read more books when they’re from the library
Although I rarely do it, I think going to the library is fun. It’s exciting to search for a book I have in mind and see if my library has it in.
Those are books that I want today and that I know I have a limited time to read. I can’t put it off for too long. Of course I could keep renewing books week after week after month after month — but who does that, really?
Knowing I have a time limit for a book makes me be realistic about what books I’m actually checking out. If I know I’m not interested in reading it in the next week or two, what’s the point?
And, once I start the book, I have an incentive to finish it because I have what feels like a deadline. I’ll choose reading over scrolling on my phone when I know I only have a few days left to finish the last 100 pages. But we all have books we’ve purchased that we started and never finished, because “later” is always an option!
When it comes down to it, I get more books read when they are from the library. That fact alone is worth borrowing over buying, and when I factor in the space I save, the money I save, and the stress I lose, I wouldn’t do it any other way!
There are of course a few books which have special meaning to me, and those I am glad I own and I plan to always keep. But by and large I’m sticking with the library!
P.S. Another thing I love are those “Little Free Library“s I see around town. Does your town have those? They are such a cute idea. I’ve borrowed books from those and also dropped off some books I just wanted to get rid of!
Leave a comment below with what book you’re currently reading, and where you got it from :).
Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.