40 Days of Simple Living – Part Two (or “Parting with a Book is Such Sweet Sorrow”)

I have always been a huge bookworm with my nose constantly pressed up against the pages (not literally of course, I wasn’t having an affair with a book or wiping my nose on it).  The problem with that has been that I have accumulated more and more books and continually struggled to part with them.

Piles of Books (Photo: Alamy)

In the early stages of the Lent challenge I managed to part with a few old books; most of which I had only ever intended to buy, read once and “charity shop” them (sometimes via a loan out to a friend first).  Even those few was a bit of an emotional struggle but I survived.  And so did the books.

Towards the end of the Lent challenge I decided it was no good but I had to tackle the bookshelves once more.  After all, I reasoned, there must be one or two more books that I would not be likely to pick up again to read.  What shocked me was the intensity of my desire to “make space” as I returned to my hallowed room of words (ok, this is sounds mightly impressive but is actually only my dining room which happens to house my bookshelves).

Rather than my usual response of: “I know I’m not enjoying that book but I should really try and finish it – it might improve”, I admitted honestly that there were books that lay on the shelf unfinished for a good reason.  So out they went. 

I ruthlessly challenged my earlier decisions to keep books that were “lovely” and instead asked “Will I honestly ever want to read it again?”  When the answer was “No” the book was added to the pile.  The criteria applied to those books I decided to keep were:

  1. Did it make me feel special?
  2. Did it challenge me or change my attitude to myself or others in some positive way?
  3. Did it lift my spirits, make me laugh out loud or just generally whisk me away to another world?
  4. Will I definitely read this again or refer to it again one day?

If the answer was “no” to all the above then it joined the clutter pile and out it went.  Even if the answer was “yes” to 1-3, the book still went if I would never read it again. 

If I hadn’t even started to read it then it of course stayed on the shelf – it would have been a travesty to throw out a completely unread book (well, apart from the extra copy of “Little Dorrit” – seems I had been so keen to read it that I had purchased two copies).

And the result?  Wow – I had managed to turf out 28 books!  For me this was something of a record.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be able to repeat this again in a few weeks with a similar amount of success.  In the meantime I am reading three books: one lent by a friend, one I know I will read and then give away and one I suspect will meet all 4 criteria and find a firm space on my shelf.

What is your one vice when it comes to clutter?  Shoes?  CDs?  DVDs? Clothes? Fabrics? Sports/gym equipment?  Can you find a short list of criteria to use to help you make a real difference to the clutter in your world today?

Don’t focus on the future; focus on the hear and now.  Live in the moment!

Share how you go!

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2 Responses to 40 Days of Simple Living – Part Two (or “Parting with a Book is Such Sweet Sorrow”)

  1. pamiejane says:

    I really need to do this with my books too! I have a couple that I probably wont ever read. Ok, that I will definitly never read… that really should go to a better home.

    • loustar02 says:

      No time like the present….think how excited someone else might be when they see that book on the shelf of a charity shop just waiting for them. I’m so pleased this little post has inspired you a bit.

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