Monday, April 13, 2015

The Book Purge

I've been wanting to purge my books for 6 months, maybe longer, but I put it off because it wasn't necessary. That changed last week during our Easter vacation. This is not news if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, where it seemed like I was doing a real-time live purging. I was, kind of. Hey, it's boring and confusing picking over 970 books. I say 970 books because two weeks ago Mikey had to count all the books in our house for a math assignment. He fudged it after the 800s, but it's fair estimate.



I'm deep into the world's largest pitcher of Kool-Aid: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Many logically assumed my purge was a result of becoming a Konvert--that's what they call themselves, and it reminds me alarmingly of Claymates*--but my motivation was more mundane, less life-changing. We got new carpet put in the family room.

That's pretty much it. We had to remove all the furniture, including the bookcases, so it seemed like a great time to do what would otherwise be easy to put off. I didn't even read the book purging section of the book until I was done, but I did okay. (Full review on the book coming soon.)

My goal was to reduce our library by half, and I think I did it! I didn't, and won't, count the books I have left. I know that I donated eight stuffed shopping bags to the school, five to Goodwill, and three to a drug rehabilitation center. I was ruthless, thanks in large part to encouragement from everyone on Instagram and Facebook. When I waffled, they reminded me of the end goal. Louise was especially helpful when I debated giving away a John Irving novel I didn't love. John Irving is my favorite author, and I thought I should keep the book so that I had a complete collection of his work.
I had a hard time splitting up a collection of books by an author, but once I did it, I quickly realised it was a good choice. There will always be the library or ebooks. It helped me to think of it in terms of curating a "five-star" collection. In reality I am aiming for a "four-star" library - all the books should be either four star or five stars, with the occasional sentimental three star book creeping in. No keeping stuff you don't love.
Pretty great, right? I used that as my mantra throughout the purge. It made so much sense, and made getting rid of books much easier. I also learned something about myself, which was unexpected but exciting. Even a bit surprising.





ALL I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT MYSELF I LEARNED WHILE PURGING BOOKS:


  1. I'm a fan of Russian literature. If a Russian wrote it, chances are it's one of my favorite books. (Any recommendations for me?)
  2. John Irving stopped being my favorite author when he wrote Until I Find You. I haven't loved a book he's written since A Widow for One Year.
  3. I really want to love poetry.
  4. If you were to assume my passions based on the books I kept after the purge, it would be religion, parenting, homemaking/housekeeping, and post-apocalyptic nightmares. Arguably all one and the same.
  5. David Sedaris is the only author I consistently enjoy.
  6. I didn't keep a single Pulitzer prize winner. I can't remember the last one I truly enjoyed.
  7. Some of my favorite books are ones I read in my 20s, which is a total bummer.





Final picture of all the books in the library. There are so many books, and yet in the picture it looks like a small pile. Oh well. I hope the kids like them!

* I had to google a link to Claymates in case someone didn't remember that magical moment in time. In doing so, I fell down the deepest of rabbit holes. So deep. I know about his congressional run, his ex-boyfriend, and his ever-combative hair.


22 comments:

  1. I went through the same process a couple of months ago after reading that very book. I ended up giving away 500+ books. Most of the ones I kept I, too, had first read in my 20's.

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    1. Glad to know it's not just me. I like what K had to say about why that is. It really is an impressionable time for us--or at least it was for me.

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  2. Believe it or not, I don't keep any books. Once they've been read, they're out.

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    1. I believe it. As I was keeping books I was wondering what the point was.

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  3. I know I mentioned this before but I took a Russian Lit in Trans class during my undergrad and fell in love. Here are a few of my favorites:

    "The Defense" by Nabokov
    "The Overcoat" Gogol
    "The Petty Demon" by Sologub
    "Resurrection" Tolstoy

    And I don't think you can even talk Russians without mentioning "War and Peace" (I didn't get all the way through it.) and "Crime and Punishment"

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  4. I'm going to see David Sedaris at a show in a few weeks. I haven't read any of his stuff but hope to read 1 book before the show. What's your favorite?

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    1. I've seen one of his readings and he is AMAZING. All of his books are great, but Squirrel Meets Chipmunk is my least favorite, so don't go with that one. Me Talk Pretty One Day was great.

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    2. I've seen one of his readings and he is AMAZING. All of his books are great, but Squirrel Meets Chipmunk is my least favorite, so don't go with that one. Me Talk Pretty One Day was great.

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  5. First off - great job!! I am currently working on purging winter clothes, then maybe books next! As for your comment about your favorite books are from your 20s, I think this is not because you haven't read awesome books since then, but rather it is a time in our lives where everything we read has a huge impact. We are really at the beginning of figuring out who we are and what we think of the world during that time.

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    1. That's a great observation about the world having more impact in your 20s. Thank you! :)

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  6. Have you read The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov? I'm not actually a big fan of Russian literature, but I loved that one.

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    1. No, but I looked it up and OMG it sounds right up my alley! So excited about this.

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  7. Clay Aiken is the reason I *almost* didn't name our third child Clay. I can't get over the eyebrows- they are too much for me. I am decidedly not a Claymate.

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    1. THE EYEBROWS! And his hair. I don't get his hair. Why is it so huge?

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  8. I have exactly the same feelings about John Irving's novels!

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    1. I'm so glad it's not just me. He is so hit and miss! Lately he's been all miss for me.

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  9. what frances said^

    the master and margarita is my husband's favorite novel.

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  10. I'm really looking forward to your review.

    But I can't say enough how proud I am of you! That was a big job and your effort clearly paid off. That must feel so refreshing.

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    1. Thank you! I just need to finish the book--almost done!--and start typing. I have so many review posts, and posts in general, that I want to write. Gah!

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  11. Ok, I had to revisit this post. After reading it i promptly went out and bought the kindle version (I rarely buy anything outside of the kindle these days) - I love the book, though I'm not finished with it, I can already tell I'm going to fall down the rabbit hole. But anyway - I stumbled upon this parody of the book that I thought you might appreciate: http://the-toast.net/2015/02/24/get-rid-clutter-live-abundantly/

    I'm giggling just thinking about you reading it.

    Now, I guess I better go finish that book!

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