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  • Writer's pictureLisa Y

Konmari Challenge: Books

How did you all do with the clothes? For some of you, it was likely pretty easy. However, for others, it was more difficult.

For this reason, I want to reiterate the focus. Remember the focus should be on what you want to keep. Don’t focus so much on deciding what to get rid of. Going through the process, you’ll just know if an item is something you want to get rid of, so don’t make that the focus. Just know that it’s inevitable that you will get rid of some things. Especially if you you don’t have the space for everything or can’t make the space for it.

This week we are moving on to books. Something I learned from Marie Kondo’s book is that books are one of the things people find hardest to let go, even if they aren’t avid readers. We start this, just as we did clothing. Gather all your books and pile them on the floor. Make sure you gather them from everywhere in your home. Check the family room or living room, your bedroom, and yes even the bathroom HA! Don’t forget to gather up your cookbooks also, and even magazines! I had a small bookshelf in the basement full of books for the kids. I even brought them up and made the kids sort through them.

Something I learned from reading this book is that this method of tidying and organizing is almost like a spiritual experience. At least that’s how it seems to be for Marie Kondo in the way she speaks to the home and it’s belongings and thanks each item before it’s discarded.

I, on the other hand, have difficulty with that part of it. Which i think is ok because everyone’s organizing “journey” is going to be different. And that is fine. As an organizer, who you are looking to for guidance, I feel like it’s my job to make you aware of many different methods and systems of organizing.

Moving on...

So you have all your books gathered together and piled up on the floor. By removing them all from the shelves on which you already store them, you are forcing yourself to handle each one. If you left them all on the shelf and tried to just glance over them to pick a few to purge, you would be overlooking them as individual books.

You know how if something stays in one spot long enough you begin to not notice it anymore. It becomes somewhat invisible. Which I think is what causes most people to simply forget they even own certain items.

Now, this is the spiritual part, because this is when we are supposed to gently “wake up” the items. You can do this simply by tapping it or just touching it. And it’s this process that’s best done with the books off the shelf. If they are piled on the floor its so much easier for you to see what you have and “wake” them up. Then you can fully see just how much you have.

If you have more books than you can arrange on the floor at once, then divide them into categories. Marie suggests the following 4 categories...

-General (reading for pleasure)

-Practical (references, cookbooks etc)

-Visual (photo collections etc)


Now you begin sorting. Pick up each book, one by one, and decide if you want to keep it or not. Remembering the ultimate criteria being “does it bring you joy” when you touch it. But don’t open it and begin reading it! That clouds your judgement.

The goal is to do this part quickly yet thoroughly. I’m going to get off the book process for a moment and tell you about how I completed this process.

As I sorted I made 2 piles...A JOY pile and a NO JOY pile. This isn’t what I called it at the time. At the time I thought this was going to be my only and final sort. But when I got done, I still had more books than I actually wanted. I don’t read a lot so I thought there would be very few books that brought me joy. When in actuality there were more...weird. So maybe they didn't really bring me joy? Who knows. But I knew that even though it seemed to bring me joy, I probably wasn’t going to read it. If I’m not going to read it, why should I keep it. So that sent me into a new process, and one that’s not part of the KonMari method. A process where I pared down my collection even more. I knew that when I was done, I would be storing all my books on the bookshelf in my office, and this was going to house ALL the books even the kids books. Everyone’s books would be kept here in our own little family library. Since space is limited, I had to pare down more. Just because I had 3 shelves I COULD fill, didn’t mean I HAD to fill them completely. I guess I wasn’t totally off the KonMari method because I read further into the reasons people keep too many books, and that’s where I began purging more.

“I might read it again”...For me, I know I’m not likely I'll read it again. Unless it’s a professional development book or organizing book. I do go back and reference them periodically. But that's more for business and professional reasons. Novels, on the other hand, I will likely never read again, and the same with magazines. I’ve actually made it a habit to recycle any magazine immediately after I am finished reading it.

Take a moment to count how many of your books you have read more than once. It’s likely not many, if any.

Then there are books you started but never finished or books you bought but never started. These are the hardest to part with. If the book was truly important to you, don't you think you would have finished it? So this means that you likely realized, after starting the book, you really weren’t interested after all. In which case, does this really bring you joy? Probably not. Sounds safe to get rid of. Only by getting rid of it will you know just how passionate you are about the subject. If you don’t miss it after you get rid of it, then you are good to go. If you want the book back so badly, after you got rid of it, that you are willing to actually buy it again, and you can afford to, then go ahead and do it. But this time, actually read it!

Keep your collection to your Book Hall of Fame. Are there books you have read over and over again? Those are likely special and deserve a space in your hall of fame.

There are also books that you find important now. And those are fine to keep for now. Remember that it’s ok to have a revolving collection of books. Your interests will change over time. A book you enjoy now, you may not enjoy next year or in 5 years. And it will be ok to donate it then.

I have my own little rule of thumb when it comes to books. I try to borrow books from the public library first. It’s free! And I’ll know if I really love the book and if it’s worth owning. If it’s “hall of fame” material and I would read it or reference it again then I will considering buying it for my collection. Save your hard earned money on things that are important and special to you. Even a book, you think you NEED, maybe for work, try getting it from the library first. You may realize after you read it, that you don't NEED it, and you don't even want it. Then you didn't waste your money on something you don't need or want, and will clutter the house, but will insist on keeping simply because you paid for it.

I'll stop talking now so you can get started with your own book collections. Keep an eye open for my FB and Insta posts in the coming week with more book inspiration and motivation.

Happy Organizing

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