My Minimalism - Books
In my last post, For the Love of Books, I relayed the impact books and reading have had on my life. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to update the My Minimalism series with my current collection of books. There was a time in my life where I had a 6 foot by 4 foot bookcase full of books that I thought I could not part with. They varied greatly in topics and of course many of them had never been read. I was keeping way too many books that I misconstrued to be a part of my identity. If I have a bookshelf full of books on nutrition, I am a better dietitian - it sounds ridiculous as I recount this belief, but none the less it was the case. I was holding on to every text and reference book from my education, and classic novels that I thought made me look well read and intelligent. Books on places I wanted to go, and things I wanted to learn, but I did not travel or even crack the first page of most of these books. But because I had wrapped part of my identity up in those books, I could not just let them go.
In the process of becoming a minimalist, I began to realize stuff cannot define my. It does not make me who I am. And I certainly don't want others to think they know me by the things I possess. While the first pass on letting go of books was admittedly difficult, the task got much easier. I started with texts that were outdated and no longer valuable. That was the easy part. Then on to topics that I realized I was never really going to delve into. By the end of my book decluttering, I was left with only the important reference materials, books that I loved to re-read and only a couple of books that I was preparing to read. During the past few years of "minimal books" my remaining collection has been very fluid. Books come and go as needed and desired. Now after I read a book, I quickly determine if this is a book I will want to refer back to or re-read, or could I pass the book along. The picture above are all the books I currently own and only three of those would be considered my collection. The others will be read and then move on.
So what to do with the books that have been read? My two favorite options are to either give the book to someone who I know would like to read it or donate it to my local library. Notice I said give not loan. I used to lend books and then get upset if they were damaged or not returned. Now I give them freely for the recipient to use as they see fit. The beauty of donating the books to my library is that if for some reason I do want to refer to the book later, I simply have to check it out. There are of course numerous other options for books you would like to declutter and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist excellently enumerated many of them in his article 20 Places to Donate Used Books.
As for acquiring books, I also make regular use of my local library, however, I do purchase books I am unable to borrow. My feeling is that books are more of an experience than a thing and are well worth the investment in terms of finances and space.