I’ve been told before that “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” If packing to move were compared to my general flight path in life, I’d have to agree. What takes my far more focused husband a few hours, will take me days as I flit around and get distracted, inspired, or pulled into a side-project.
I started reading a fabulous book called THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. In her book she advises to do all your discarding first before any organizing, and to do it by one of five categories, rather than by room. She even suggests the order in which you discard (from “easiest to hardest”) starting with clothes. I loved that part. Giving away clothes that weren’t “bringing me any joy” knowing that someone else might find a better use for them.
But next on her list is books. And she admits that books are very challenging for many people to let go of. That’s an understatement for someone who once held a good-bye ceremony for a box of poetry books and cried the whole time.
Of course, MOVING is not tidying up. Moving is picking up all your belongings and assembling them in what you hope will be a tidy and organized fashion on the other side. This time around, we’re temporarily downsizing in a new city. And as I’m not a big fan of long-term storage, I thought this book might help me to tidy first before we moved. Alas, the moving date is now a tidal wave and I’m still on the beach deciding which shells I want to keep.
Marie Kondo, I am sorry I did not follow your system of discarding books. I will be more disciplined next time.
I have moved 10 times in 20 years. I have made culling, packing, moving, unpacking, and reorganizing books an art form. I start early, knowing it will take weeks for the entire process. There will be drama and tears and at least one bookshelf landing on my head. (I currently have a tender bruise right above my “third eye.”)
I started with discarding the easy ones – I’ve read them, they don’t belong to a friend, and I’ll probably never read them again. I’ve been giving them away to anyone who stops by and on non-rainy days this box goes out in the yard:
Since we’ll be in a smaller space for a while, I next created a “NOW BOOKS” box – books I have been thinking about reading for a while and “might” be inspired to read in the next 6 months.
Then there’s the box of “Poetry books I probably won’t read in the next 6 months but are too precious for me to store anywhere,” my “Oz Books” box (yes, they have their own separate box), my “books I keep in my bedroom for some reason” box, and another box of all my “educational / teaching” books JUST IN CASE.
The rest I taped up and created a fortress of boxes called “I’m okay with us putting these books into storage for 6 months. I think.”
But then yesterday, I was reading this lovely article and suddenly realized I had no Henry Miller in my box of “NOW BOOKS” and that article must have been sent to me by a higher force! Henry Miller must have something to tell me about this phase of my life!
It only took reopening two boxes of books for me to find this:
~ ~ ~
Sometimes I look at my bookshelves and feel like a fraud. The majority of books on my shelves are of the “haven’t gotten around to reading” sort. And for some reason, when I see other people’s bookshelves I immediately assume they HAVE read all those books and all that juicy content is dancing around inside them. My friends assure me they, too, have neglected to read many of the books on their own shelves. So perhaps bookshelves are less of a trophy case after all and more of a to-do list.
In the past, when I packed up my books, I wavered from inspiration to melancholy to guilt. But this time, considering them an attractive to-do list, I thought instead, Why don’t I make this the Year of The Bookshelf List? The books are probably tired of sitting around getting dusty, only to get their hopes up when I reach for them for yet another move. It’s time to love some of them up and move them along.
So, in honour of this committment, I hereby dub this the
YEAR OF READING MY BOOKSHELVES
The deal I have made with myself is that for this entire year I will always be reading at least one book that has been on my “read someday” bookshelf list. And if it doesn’t bring joy (thanks Marie Kondo!), off it goes to bring it to someone else.
I just hope I put the right books in that “NOW BOOKS” box.
Pick a book from your shelves that you’ve been meaning to read. Go ahead, open it right now.
What is it? How does it make you feel opening it up?