Yesterday I dropped off approximately 100 books at my Friends of the Free Library bookstore. I kept 30 books – four from my undergraduate English years (can’t seem to release the Norton Anthologies, Chaucer, or Milton yet), three from my graduate school years, and the rest are a mix of fiction and non-fiction books that I would like to re-read.
Decluttering bookshelves is overwhelming. Bookshelves do a great job of concealing how much space books really take. Having stacks of books lying on the floor is a great motivator to release the ones that are no longer loved or needed.
Books for different Seasons
I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up * yet (I’m #67 on the library waitlist!), but have heard of her suggestion to thank an item for the role it played in your life and then letting it go. I feel that’s particularly appropriate for books.
Many of the books that were in my bookshelf were bought and devoured at certain seasons of my life. Those seasons have passed. I released them for someone else who may need to read them now.
I was tempted to type up a list or take a photo of the stacks of books to see if any of my local friends or family would like any of them to read or keep. “What if they were about to buy just the book that I was about to donate? Wouldn’t that be a shame?”
I stopped myself for two reasons:
- I didn’t want to hold onto the books until I saw them next.
- I want to trust that the books that they need to read will come into their lives without me.
Our lives and our needs evolve with time. I’m learning that releasing the things that are not relevant in the present creates much needed space. Here are the empty spaces created by releasing over 100 books:
When I’m confronted with these empty spaces I feel tempted to fill them. Initially it feels uncomfortable to leave them empty.
“I should put another chair where the bookshelf used to be.”
“I should put some framed photos or other objects on the shelves.”
I’m learning to resist those urges and to sit with the open space. There is a promise held within those empty spaces – the promise of new possibilities. New books? Perhaps. New uses of the space and objects? Most likely. We don’t have to make decisions right away. If we are patient and observant, the open spaces of our lives, whether a bookcase or our schedules, will enable us to embrace the next step, whatever that may be.
Are you comfortable with open spaces? Where in your home or your life do you need to create some more space?
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