An image of a box of books.


Boxes of books, their pages crumpled and yellowing. That old paperback smell, damp and dry, like sawdust. The roar of early minimalism encourages freedom from everything, so they get shipped out, via car or collection, taken away to be sold again or borrowed. They will be useful to somebody, someone will read their yellowed pages and feel inspired and excited. Someone will turn down the already crumpled corners to keep their place, they will stuff bus tickets into the folds of the paper in place of bookmarks. Inevitably, someone will take one of them into the bath, allowing their damp hands to wrinkle the thin paper, until the book has waves like the ocean.

We can be maniacal when we first begin in minimalism. Most of us look to our cluttered bookshelves as one of the starting points, trying to find the texts we can bear to part with. We rush, we’re impatient, trying to get as much cleared out as possible. We think that we will never need that textbook; we can always re-purchase that later. Much of the time, we’re right. We can part with these things and begin to feel more positive about our space, we might even switch primarily to digital books, taking up less room with any new purchase.

Then, after some months, we go looking for that book we need- we can’t find it, but it must be here, we wouldn’t have thrown it away, would we?

Minimising books is one of the hardest parts of minimalism. We may have more specific emotions and attachments tied to one book than we ever will with a piece of clothing. We have no way to look into the future of our lives and analyse our needs with foresight. We may be confident that we will never need that book again, and we may be wrong. So, how can we minimise books effectively?

As mentioned in previous articles, impulsive minimalism is one of the key things we should avoid in order to minimise effectively. Impulsive minimalism feels effective, but often comes back to haunt us when we realise that, in our hurry, we have minimised the wrong items. Another issue with minimising books is that we often forget to consider whether we could re-purchase them if we did need them. Of course, this doesn’t apply to popular fiction, found on any charity store shelf- but in the case of textbooks, or academic pieces, it may be cheaper and more sustainable in the long run to hold onto those books if we are still in education, or looking to continue on in education. We can make different choices, perhaps exchanging old physical books for their free e-book counterparts.

Minimising books can be a difficult task, but if we do it effectively we can increase our space, reduce minimalism-regret, and ensure that we keep what we truly need.

Do you have your own tips for minimising books?

Featured image: Annie Spratt via Unsplash.

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