Queen Composter reflects upon efforts to simplify her life.
I love my stuff. I am constantly fighting my ego's urge to own more things. One of the things that makes me deliriously happy is books. Not only do I love reading (I often stay awake into the wee hours of the morning to finish a book), I also love the physical being of books and I have a visceral connection to them. I am the type of person who, upon purchasing a new book, likes to open it up and smell the pages. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.
Back in the day when good, local book stores actually existed, my idea of a good Saturday night out was to spend hours browsing the aisles for books. I have even been asked to leave a book store because I sat down on the floor and started reading some books (before book stores became a destination with coffee shop and couches). It doesn't help that I am a teacher, and we are famous for spending a great deal of our disposable income on books.
My obsession with owning books received a turbo boost when my future husband became a manager of a big box book store for a time. Hello employee discount! Every available space in our home had stacks of books, some beloved books, some perpetually on the "to read" list.
When we moved to a larger home and had to go through the effort of packing up and transporting the dozens of book boxes, we realized we had a problem. We made the difficult decision to deal with our problem and sorted our books into approximately seven piles as we unpacked: favourite books we reread, books we are positive we will read in the near future, resource/information books that we use on a regular basis, books we want to save for our children to read, books we have read but will not read again, books we have never read and do not see reading in the near future, and university textbooks. We promptly loaded the books in the latter three piles back into the moving boxes to give away.
Some thoughts on giving away our books:
- The internet has done away with the need for insane amounts of How-To books and information books. We kept some pretty and informative coffee table books, but otherwise we borrow from the library or look it up online.
- Our home is less cluttered with books everywhere. Now to tackle the other areas, like craft supplies, toys, and DVDs.
- I visit the library more now. I can always buy a book later if I fall in love with an author or book. This has encouraged my daughters to read more too. Win-win!
- Many organizations are happy to have donated books. We discovered that our local food bank accepts books and we even received a tax deductible receipt.
- Used book stores are another way to reduce the amount of books you have, but I have found that they are quite picky about what they will accept, and they generally do not like to take donations, for space issues. But if you have good quality, popular books it is always nice to get a bit of money for your efforts.
- We have now made a commitment to avoid big box stores as much as we can, partially because of the impact upon diminishing local, independent book stores. As a result, we are not as tempted to spend money, and we put more thought into our book purchases.
- Another idea my daughters would like to try, which is becoming more popular, is to make a free library for the end of our driveway for books they would like to pass on to someone else.
Now that we have dealt with our book fetish it is much easier to keep new books from entering our home. I like to buy books for my kids for Christmas presents (something they want, something they need, something they'll wear, something they'll read), and I buy books by my favourite authors, but otherwise I try to borrow from the library or a friend now.
Have you simplified any aspect of your life? I'd love some more thoughts and tips.