More of a Dissection than a Decluttering

img_20150611_115546352_hdrI am decluttering my house via the Konmari method. If you are not familiar with it, the basic gist is that you declutter by category. You take every item in your home in that category, put it all in one place and then sort by one criteria. Hold it in your hand and ask, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is yes, you keep it. If the answer is no, you let it go.

I just emptied every book I own from my bookshelves and bedroom onto the floor upstairs. I did not touch my husband’s bookshelf downstairs, nor did I touch my children’s shelves.

There are still some books downstairs I need to get to bring upstairs before I begin my book decluttering.

When I did my clothes, it was easy. I like clothes and I like looking good, but I tend to be a bit of a wardrobe minimalist (well, by American standards, anyway) and my emotional attachment to clothes revolves around whether I am presenting myself well when I wear them out of the house, or if I feel attractive or comfortable in them inside the house. Not hugely emotional to me. Or maybe I dealt with anything emotional about them years ago and am cool with my clothes now. Even so, I rid of three lawn bags of clothes when I did my clothing purge.

I did papers before I did books, and that was not too terribly hard. I pruned a two-drawer file cabinet of stuff down to a single drawer. I may actually prune more after I finish this, and get rid of the file cabinet and keep the papers in folders on the bookshelf.

But books.


Books were how I survived school, and I do not mean as a scholar, but how I could ignore being picked on. Books were how I could learn there was more to the world than the rather Spartan culture I had to confront every time I left the house, and confront how that outside of my family, I was considered more of an inconvenience to be gotten rid of than anyone of any real worth. Books where how I escaped and books were how I grew. My identity as a bookworm was important to me because it could be how I was important or special.

It’s not that I still don’t love to read. I do. On average, I read a book a week, so that’s still part of my life and a part I treasure and enjoy.

In going through all these books – holding each one in my hand and asking, “Does this spark joy?” to decide which ones to keep, I am also confronting not only my past choices, but how I have changed and who I have become now. Even the act of taking all the books down from the shelves was much more emotional than I thought it was going to be.

2 Replies to “More of a Dissection than a Decluttering”

  1. Noel, when I first saw this picture I was shocked!! Books mean so much to you! Why do you feel you need to declutter your books? Of all things! I understand clothes, papers etc., but your books? XOXO ♥

    1. I’ve this book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

      I’d like to have fewer possessions, but more than that, I want to keep the ones that REALLY mean something to me, if that makes any sense. First editions, hardbacks, copies signed by the author, books I am sentimental about from childhood, these do make me happy. If I love it, and it makes me happy when I hold it in my hand, I keep it. There is a huge pile of books that I’ve held in my hand and they don’t necessarily spark joy, but for the most part, it’s because I have them in electronic format, so it’s not like I am losing them. I have this pile of Pratchett paperbacks that I’m letting go of, but it’s not because I no longer love Pratchett, but that my favorite way to enjoy his work is through the audiobooks. Those, I still have. This is about going through my stuff and keeping the things that I love and make me happy. It doesn’t have to be logical, it just has to make me happy to have it.

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