I’m as passionate about books and reading as any other bibliophile, and have read dozens more books than I can probably remember. I could give you a well thought out reading list of fifty books that I have read that you should read immediately…that’s a lot of good books to have read.

So I take it seriously when I say this: get rid of your books.

Don’t throw them away. Like most bibliophiles I see the act of defacing and discarding books to be almost sacrilegious – I tore one up once just because of this. It felt uncanny.

Surprise your bibliophile friends with a book as a gift. Spread the love. Sell some online. Donate to secondhand bookshops. Recycle if all else fails.

Minimalism, especially in books, needs to have a purpose. As a bibliophile, I would never condone parting with books “just because”.

Books take up a lot of space. Emotional and physical. Go digital. Get an e-reader and make storing and traveling with books easy.

If you aren’t going to read the book again, why keep it? Go onto Good Reads to record the books you’ve read. Your memories and emotions attached to the book and the characters are still inside you, and now you will have a list to look back on to revisit those memories. You don’t need to lug a collection of hundreds of books to keep your memories. Don’t underestimate the human mind and heart.

As with all things, minimizing has so many benefits. Many of them are subtle. Some are obvious. By minimizing your physical book collection, you will:

1) be able to focus on the books you are reading and want to read
2) be able to travel and move homes a lot easier
3) feel good about passing on good books to more people
4) remind yourself that you are not your possessions, and that your emotions aren’t chained to physical things
5) have more space, and maybe a little bit more money

You may even find yourself reading more books as a result, on an e-reader, or because you can focus better while owning less books and having a smaller to-read pile.

Never stop reading. If you buy/receive some books, sell/give/donate/recycle some books. Don’t let a collection of books clog up. Physical things create mental clutter as well. Most people (presumably you as well) own books to read them.

I hereby give you permission to pass on your books. You also have permission to keep a few: those you plan to read in the next 6-12 months, those you are busy reading, those that are out of print and hard to obtain and that you plan to give to someone else in the future, and a handful of your all-time favorite books that you can’t bear to part with.

A handful, not a shelf-full or a bookcase-full. That is the false emotion that this minimalism is meant to free you from. So your emotions can be full and free from breakable physical things.

Always be reading a book. Don’t read more than one book at a time. Make time to read, like you make time to sleep and eat and shower. Regularly visit the local library. Never stop reading.

Further reading:

Practical steps to reduce your book collection.
Why to read, and recommendations.
From 2000 to a handful plus an e-reader.


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