Simplify :: Clearing my bookshelves

When I first started blogging 6 years ago, I picked ” A journey to a simple happy life” as a title. A bit pompous but two words were very important for me “journey’ and “simple”. I was trying to learn to appreciate the first and adopt the second.

Being a stay at home mom with very young children one of my first challenges was to accept that the beauty was in the journey. There is no such thing as a destination when you’re a mom. Sure when your children become independent balanced adults you know you did something right but that is so far in the future, you need to appreciate the in between. So enjoying the journey was my goal.

“simple” because i was overwhelmed. By my love for my children, the sense of responsibility but especially by the stuff. The overstuffed scheduled, the overflowing hampers, the toys, my books, the clothes just the stuff of life but too much of it. I felt the need to let go so I could hold on to what really matters. It was a hard process at first but slowly I made space in my life for what I needed. It took me 3 years but I managed to let go of the clutter and streamline our home, set up routines and feel a little more in control.

Then I stopped being careful and things have been creeping back into the house. Books I think I will read, half completed projects, objects I neither love or need. A couple of days ago, I started by purging my yarn stash and Layla’s arts and crafts. Today it was my nightstand and my bookshelves.

The first books were hard to let go but once I got started i kept going. Purging my bookshelves always induces anxiety, guilt and regret. I have done it a couple of times now and I have devised a 5 rules for purging my book collection:

  • If it’s been on my shelves for more than a year then I will probably never get to read it. I went so far as to test this theory myself as I found books on my shelves I hadn’t yet read, but couldn’t yet bear to let go. I dedicated a shelf to “need to read” books, and noted the date. Any books that started out on that shelf on that date but were still there six months later I purged. The truth is that I didn’t want to read them but held on out of guilt.

  • Orange and green stickers can go. When I finish reading a book I put a color sticker like this one on the spine. Orange for the ones I didn’t enjoy and green for the ones I liked and pink for the ones I loved. It’s easy to just go through the shelves and pick the ones that are ready to find a new home
  • If I stopped reading it can go. No matter how much I try there are books I cannot finish or that I don’t want to finish. Following the same logic as rule 1 it’s time for them to go
  • Judge a book by it’s cover. If it’s yellow, musty or tattered it’s can go
  • Look for multiples. I sometimes forget that I had a book or that I read it. Which making the purge all the more necessary.

All of the books that are removed from my shelves are donated to the yearly library book sale. There is more room on my shelves, I feel lighter and someone will get to enjoy them and hopefully pass them on.

I plan to concentrate on the master bedroom for the next week. It’s not a cluttered room but I am sure there  is room for improvement and I will reward myself by decorating it a little when I made room for a what I love and need.


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