BOOKS: Cleaning, Collecting and (Not) Decluttering My Bookshelves






As I was reading a friend’s social media newsfeed earlier today I came across a blog post she recommended about decluttering. Okay, fine. What struck me about this post was that it was about decluttering the bookshelf. Uh, not so fine. I am a minimalist by nature. I was raised by hippies in a pretty nomadic if not downright gypsy lifestyle for the entirety of my first two decades on this planet. So I keep it pretty lean and clean around my house at all times. It is not only a time-saver and, obviously, money-saver, but it keeps my head-space in order; just the way I like it. But, get rid of books? Wha?

Yeah, about that. I just finished, well, to be honest, nearly finished cleaning my latest purchases from our local book fair, an annual event that raises money for the symphony (close to my heart, but not as close as the living books (translation: ideas) I rescue from a lifetime in the text trade, or worse- the landfill).

I dream of one day leaving a legacy of Worthy Books, a library full of high quality, rare and out of print vintage children’s literature (just the good stuff) for the next generation.

I also fantasize about downsizing to a Shipping Container dwelling at some point in the future.

Shipping Container Homes

Something like this, perhaps?

So… not sure where the library will fit into these plans, but I will think of something. Perhaps a compact, two story shipping container library (and there’s always that Book Mobile idea…).

Bookshelf decluttering? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I can live with just one pair of shoes (though I don’t) or only an everyday set of dishes (which I do), but getting rid of books is akin to removing wisdom teeth, painful and often unnecessary. Ok, I might not know what I’m talking about there, but books are a great source of living ideas, inspiration and wisdom and getting rid of them is like pulling teeth.

When I came home from my recent trip to Florida I was in full Spring Cleaning mode (a house left with dad and kids in charge for two months has that kind of affect on me).  Most recently I have been cleaning our study, including some of the individual books in our library.  Part of the cleaning process for these new (old) books involves a hepa-filtered vacuum cleaner with special nozzles, hoses and brushes, a trade-marked antibacterial microfiber cleaning cloth, dozens of air-tight zippered bags and some kitty litter (I don’t have any cats).

I momentarily considered getting rid of my children’s desks to make room in the study for more bookshelves filled with these worthy books. Which led to a considerable conundrum trying to decide where they should actually study, if not, you know, in the study. I have temporarily settled on stacking the new piles of old books on top of some old piles of new books and keeping the desks where they are for now. Not the most feng shui solution, but I’m working on it. That is, when I am not reading (or writing) new books.

I have not even counted (or sorted, or alphabetized) our new acquisitions yet, but it must be somewhere in the thirty-somethings. But hey, I paid less than it would have cost for just one of them on Amazon. So, that has to count for something, right? A, B, C, D, OCD… Where were we?

Back to the books.

Now, let me be clear, although a self-professed bibliophile, I do not buy books just to own them. Books are meant to be read (and held, and smelled, and hugged… ahem).  Alright, I may get a little carried away at times; I admit it. (That is step one, right?) Though it’s not just about owning books, I confess we do have a few collections, besides the “Complete Works of…” a few favorite authors, some study helps and commentaries, reference sets and encyclopedias.  One is a handsome cloth and leather bound hardback set of classic books with sewn bindings that we add to every year (I imagine my grandkids reading these fine books someday), the other is a set of Harvard Classics (did I mention we home school?).

Thus, I don’t feel the need to cull through my library to rid the shelves of unwanted or unread books, partly because that doesn’t apply to many, if any, of our worthy books in the first place, and in part because I feel that since I don’t buy any/every book that I want, whenever I want, that it is as if I have already decluttered, pre-purchase. I do declutter my Amazon wish-list periodically. Does that count?

If I didn’t actively declutter my bookshelves pre-purchase (it could become a thing), well I would practically be living in a library. Not that there is anything wrong with that…  I cannot be the only person ever to have imagined what that would be like.

Having established that I don’t just go around buying books all the time. The fact that the annual (emphasis mine- as in, it only happens once a year) book fair is in April and Mother’s Day comes right on its heels in May and the only thing I can think to ask for is a couple of books, has less to do with an obsession with the physical books themselves and more to do with an appreciation of the wisdom and living ideas hidden (like treasure) within their pages.

Incidentally these are the two books I would like: Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey and Simplify by Joshua Becker (the irony here is not lost on me).

Oh, wait, there is just one other thing I might like:

Erasmus quote t-shirt

I can wear this as I “Simplify”

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some cleaning/organizing to do. Has anyone seen where I put that great book about the Dewey Decimal System that I found at that one book sale at the place that had the thing where we found that amusing book about decluttering your life?

It must be around here somewhere…

© Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2014.
5 Responses to “BOOKS: Cleaning, Collecting and (Not) Decluttering My Bookshelves”
  1. Finally, someone comes clean. I kept nodding as you tried to talk yourself OUT of decluttering the bookshelves. I have only 2600+ books and cannot part one. I’ve been away and swore, SWORE when I recently came back from vacation that I WILL go on a book diet. Liar! I work in a used book store. It’s a charity book store. Soooo…I’m supporting a charity. A good thing. Right? RIGHT? Aren’t you listening? ~(*_*)~~

  2. E.E. says:

    I sure miss you! This blog just reminded me how much I love your ways!

  3. vbellthor454 says:

    I pray that one day I could actually declutter my garage and my kid’s rooms! The problem is my kids (aged 21,24 & 27) live on their own (small apartment) and still don’t want we to get rid of their video games, wooden doll cradle, doll sets, books or train sets, etc. They have an attachment to these items and whenever I whisper the words sell or donate, its like being on trial. Thanks to [a moving and storage company] and their professional storage services, I was able to keep their childhood alive and claim my home back.

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    © Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2012-2017.

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  • An award-winning poet and freelance writer, Una-Melina is the creator and curator of Worthy Books & Things, an online community interested in Faith, Culture, Creativity & Family where she fearlessly blogs about her life, art, faith, family, and ministry.

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