Three months ago I began to “KonMari” my home. I started out strong. Each week I tackled a new project in the house. First books (more below), next papers, followed by kitchen odds and ends that were still in moving boxes. I was strong for three weeks. Then a cold struck. Followed by a few weeks of apathy. Then spring break. And who knows what. Now here we are.
This lack of productivity is embarrassing to me because I told everyone about it. I’ve had more hits on my announcement to blog about the KonMari Method than any other blog post this year. Every day people are reading it. It’s bizarre. And I have nothing to show them.
My temptation is to hang my head in a sense of failure.
But the truth is that – as in any big project or goal (I am learning) – we always begin with gusto, feel a sense of confusion in the middle, and then grab hold of the vision and ride it to the end. We are not strong all the way through.
The point is to acknowledge this, take a break if needed, and keep going.
I hope you can do that with whatever dream you have.
KonMari is still on in the Everson household. I will keep blogging about it. Thanks for being gracious during the pause.
Today I want to share with you about decluttering my books. A friend warned me this might get difficult. She was right.
I pulled out all of my books from storage, all 10 boxes of them, and began to weed my way through them. They were packed away by topic, which made the process much easier.
Tip #1, declutter books by topic.
Just as the KonMari method approaches decluttering by category, it made sense to me to go through my books by topic. My library is the one area of my home that is structured. First by category, then alphabetically. My pantry might be a mess of cans, dried goods, and too much chocolate, but ask me where Roger Olson’s “Arminian Theology” is and I can find it in 2.5 seconds. This should tell you a little bit about me.
So, you see, it was clearly the easiest place to start.
Except I love my books. And I started with the worst place to begin: Fiction.
Tip #2: Don’t start with your favorite books.
I don’t own many fiction books, because I typically borrow from the library. And I don’t reread many novels, but the ones I do, friends, these books have formed me. They made me who I am today. As I sat there, picking up each book, thumbing through the pages and contemplating which ones to keep and which to give away, I nearly burst into tears. Will I reread Anne of the Island? Will I really read The Long Winter to my children? Anne and Laura are part of me. Best friends and soul sisters.
I held each book and tried to measure joy within me, but was surprised to find melancholy instead.
These books don’t necessarily bring me joy today, but they did years ago. They were part of me, have formed who I am. Companions on my journey. The thought of what they once were for me during times of depression or anxiety bursts within me a sense of sadness for where I was and gratitude towards the pages I hold. I cannot leave them behind. I felt that if I were to part with them I would lose a piece of who I am. Of all of the losses I have grieved during our recent move, I cannot lose another friend.
I imagine if Marie Kondō were next to me during this process she would have rolled her eyes, forced me to make a choice and some of these worn paperbacks would have wound up in the discard pile. Indeed, they nearly did. But I listened to my heart instead.
This is who I am. A tender-hearted, introverted girl who discovered deep friendships with imaginary characters who understood and formed her.
I considered just keeping a few of my favorites from each series, but quickly threw that idea aside. I cannot keep the first two books of a series and not the rest.
Anne and her beautiful Green Gables stay.
The Mitford Series stays.
The Little House on the Prairie series stays..
Harry Potter stays – ok, let’s be real, that was never a even question. How soon is too soon to reread that series – again??
My friend Kelsey was right. Beginning with books was tough. But once I got through the fiction the rest was a breeze. I found that just as my fiction friends had formed me, these resources had as well. Except so many of them I knew I would never pick up again. Kondō wrote this about the books:
You read books for the experience of reading. Books you have read have already been experienced and their content is inside you, even if you don’t remember. (p. 59 emphasis mine)
I had so many books from college and seminary that I kept around because of their impact on me. A marriage book, because of its lessons on forgiveness. A theology book, because of its insights on culture. A 700 page commentary on Romans, because heck yeah I read half of it.
The harsh truth is, I read them once and never will again.
Tip #3: Be honest with yourself. Which books will you never pick up again?
And if it turns out I’m wrong, I can rebuy it or borrow a copy. (Thanks to Marie Kondō for that insight. It never crossed my mind. Honest.)
It takes courage to step away from our things. To say, I’m going to be okay without Object A in my life. Whether that’s a book, or a sweater, or a box of old CD covers, it is a step of faith that I think things will be better without this thing I’ve been clinging to and have moved halfway across the country, because I was afraid of what would happen without it.
Now I have 5 boxes of books to give away or sell. My sister – the other bookworm in the family – already went through my fiction. Anyone need books on counseling, commentaries or literary criticism? Anyone??
But all of this reminds me… I think I need that one book I sold years ago…
(Bonus) Tip #4: Hug yourself. You did it.
What’s your relationship with your books? Which are your favorite?
I also KonMari-ed my kids books and took the opportunity to get rid of books I hate. (I know you have them too, mamas.) Tim and I created a book wall with Ikea picture ledges for the ones that remain. Isn’t it pretty?