One of the hardest things I’ve had to do on my minimalist journey is get rid of books. Each of us who embark on a minimalist journey, be it with tentative little baby mouse steps or hardcore jump all in leaps, usually have one thing, one type of possession that is hard to get rid of. For me, it’s books.
At its heyday my personal library comprised over 20,000 books, comics, and medical and scientific journals. I had an entire garage with wall to wall shelves of books on subjects that interested me. It ranged from the 19th century 2 volume History of Medicine set that are 15 pounds each and have their own shelf to a collection of modern suspense novels by Stuart Woods. I tended to keep all of the books I read and many more that I wanted around for source material.
Then I moved from that house into another. Boxing and moving all of those books made me rethink the need for them. The new house didn’t have the space for as many shelves. I hated seeing the books stuck in boxes. It got musty and the books hated it because they couldn’t see out the windows or say hello to guests. In boxes they were useless and unhappy.
So, I started selling them in the Great Purge of 2006. Now I only have a few hundred books. I pared them down to a few significant collections. I have a decent list of Sherlock Holmes books and also a small collection of Viking histories so I can read about my long dead brethren. Then I also have a very small selection of books that I’ll probably never get rid of. These are the books that once read, needed to be reread again and underlined with copious notes in the margins. This last collection of books has changed my life. Church 3.0 by Neil Cole and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk are two examples.
The Great Purge of ’06 lasted a few years as I slowly got rid of more and more. The problem is that for me books are a comfort item. I like books. I like looking at them, scanning through them, and reading them.
Recently I have again acquired way too many books that I bought cheap or at garage sales that I thought I’d like to read. There are way too many of these for me to actually sit down and read. I also keep finding more books to add to that pile, which keeps me from reading the first ones. They’re good books and would make good reads, but time and money are more of a priority to me than ‘the pile o’ books’.
So now begins another purge. I’m sitting here with a pile of books and both my Amazon and E-Bay accounts pulled up on the laptop. I’m starting with the Fifty Shades trilogy that my wife and I just read and will probably be ending with a bunch of my philosophy texts.
It’s hard, but it’s worth it to Be More With Less as Courtney Carver says.
What’s in your life that you find it hard to part with?