The Emotions of Stuff: Books

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This is part three of a six part series on the de-cluttering.

When I was 11, once a month I would head out to Woolworth’s to buy a Nancy Drew book.  Each book cost a $1.69 plus tax.  I would save my allowance between each purchase and set aside exactly the amount needed, plus another 10 cents for a bag of popcorn.  The store was a mile and a half away, and I had to take a dirt path down a hill to get there.  After buying the book and the popcorn, I would stop at the park on the way home, munch on my popcorn and read.

It was my dream time.  Nancy was brave, smart, and adventurous.  She had a great Dad and really good friends who helped her solve mysteries. Nancy opened up my world to new places and possibilities. When I finally put the book down,  I felt strong and powerful and that I could accomplish anything.

That’s how it is with a special book. It grabs you inside, shakes you up, and pulls at your emotions.

Oh, yes … there is that word again: Emotions.

Welcome to the emotional world of books!

Marie Kondo’s second category to tidy is that of books. I’m not really sure why she put it in that spot.  Maybe because books can take up a lot of physical space and by sorting through them you can make some headway, fast.  That’s my theory, anyway.

I had clients who had tons of books and loved every single one. I’ve had others who had no books in their homes at all.  I’ve also known people who are somewhere in between.

Like in all of Marie’s categories, there is no right or wrong amount of books to keep.  What matters is how those books fit into the life you want to live.

For a long time I collected those Nancy Drew books. I had the new books and I was also lucky enough to find 20 or so of the first edition books written in the 1920’s and 30’s. I treasured those well into my adulthood, occasionally pulling my favorites out to read. Then they started printing new adventures, with a modern Nancy. The new stories were different. Nancy had changed and I didn’t feel the same about her anymore.  I stopped collecting.  Eventually, I sold most of the books, even the first editions.  I had outgrown them. We had both changed.

Over the years, I have collected mysteries, self help, DIY, and gardening books.  I’ve treasured them for awhile, then let them go and moved on.  Because this had been my habit, sorting through my books for this category, was relatively painless.  The books I kept fit into a single shelf on one of our bookcases.

I say one of our bookcases, because we have over 2000 books in our home. Yes, well over 2000 books.

If it seems like a bit of a paradoxical statement, I guess it is.

The many books belong to my hubby.

While he and I both love a good book, and visit the library regularly, Greg’s personal collection is extremely important to him.  So much so, that when it came to the books category when he was de-cluttering, everything was a keeper.  Well, I take that back, we did end up trashing about 10 books that were water damaged and unsalvageable. But if we ever find them at a good price, I know Greg would purchase them.

And I’m okay with that.

For my hubby, this is his curated collection. He has chosen all of these books and they fit in with who he is and what he likes to do. Letting go of any of them would be gut wrenching. Most of these books are related to role-playing games, there is a smattering of others mixed in to the lot.  Role Playing Games are more than a hobby, it’s an outlet to his creative world. He references those books often and he is passionate about their place in our home.

In a way, I guess that made his book purging easy.  My one request was that we give the books a home, where they would have pride of place and they could be easily accessed. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure just how we would accomplish that.

When we started the process, most of these precious books were packed away in boxes in several sheds.  We ended up getting creative with how and where we stored things.  Because Greg de-cluttered after me, we did have space in the house. We found places in every room except my office. And it all came together in a way where our little home still feels open and spacious. We also created a library in one of our sheds for the remainder.

I’ve watched Greg as he goes through his books. He knows each one, and it doesn’t take long to find the one book he is looking for. There is almost a reverence about the process.

Now that my hubby has open access to all of his books, he uses them. So they are an active part of his life.  And isn’t that the purpose of having belongings?

I can’t say that our book process ended up as I envisioned.  I really thought we would have kept much less. But part of my revamped vision plan was to have a home that represented both of us, and it does.

For me, books led me to new places, showed me how to grow, and sent me on my way.

For Greg, books are his friends and an integral part of what gives him a joyful life.

The emotions are different for everyone, yet perfectly right, what ever we choose. I think we need to allow ourselves to feel what we feel when we feel it.  Once we embrace it, we begin to understand it.  Then we can decide our next steps and choices.

My next post will be on the dreaded papers category! It isn’t as bad as you think, once you understand why it bugs you so much.   See you then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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