Books. We buy them, read them, love them, recommend them, collect them.
The books we keep tell a story about our interests and passions. Weather we buy book cases, shelves, or stack them from floor to ceiling, we seem to have the motivation to carve out physical space for our beloved books.
When I used to finish reading a book, I was more than happy to give it a home next to the other books on the shelf, all collecting dust and simply existing in my space. Lately though, my book shelves are sparse and my collection keeps dwindling.
Because my needs from these books were fulfilled when I finished reading that last word on every last page. The reading portion is finished. The need for me to hold onto the physical book stems from a connection that was created during my time reading it. However, this bond is not actually with the book as a physical object, but rather a connection to the experience of having read the book. A connection to the time spent reading curled up in bed, reading on the subway, reading while eating breakfast, reading while on break from work. Those were times when the book was my companion, times when the book inspired me, made me laugh, made me cry, and blew my mind.
As hard as it has been for me, giving my books away has been a liberating experience. Instead of donating them to a bookshop, I have been bringing my books into work and leaving them in the “break room” for my coworkers to sift through and take home for free. Surprisingly, I feel no remorse when I see the books disappear from the break room. Instead I feel excited to have passed on my favorite books to others in hopes that they too may experience what I did while reading those stories.
These books plus the books from the picture above this post are the total number of books I have left. I still plan to give about half of them away.
As for bringing new books into my life, I have been experimenting with the kindle app on my iPad. Mostly, it has been a positive experience.
Is it like reading a physical book? Nope. I could not even begin to compare the two experiences.
While in Graduate school for Photography at NYU, the debate related to digital vs. darkroom photography was always heated. What I finally came to realize is that comparing the two was like comparing apples and oranges. Digital was not trying to be like darkroom photography. It was simply different then darkroom photography. Even the sizes of the photo-print paper are different when it comes to digital. I take the same approach with digital e-books vs physical books. If I compare the two, I will hit a dead-end. When I understand e-books as being different, I am more willing to try it out.
I realize that many will disagree with the notion of de-cluttering their book collection. If you feel as though keeping the books you read benefits you and brings joy and happiness to your life, than by all means keep them! My intention with sharing this post is to explain what the experience of letting go of my books has brought to my life. It is important to ask ourselves questions about our stuff, yes, even our books!
Is it benefiting my life?
Is it useful? helpful?
Is it hard to maintain?
Is it taking up space that could be used in another way?
Ask the questions. Answer them for yourself. The beauty is that here is no right or wrong.
Have you ever tried to downsize your book collection?
What does letting go of your books bring up for you?
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