On Simplicity

April 23, 2008

The Two Faces of Book Lust

Filed under: House & Home,Simple Living — Serendipity @ 11:08 pm

Hi, I’m Sara, and I have BookLust. (Hi Sara…)  I adore books.  I love to collect books, surround myself with books, look at walls of books, visit bookstores and drool on books… You get the idea.  Lots of bibliophiles know what I’m talking about, as does anybody who collects something.

But… there’s another part of me that hates collecting books.  I hate the boxes of books taking up half the space in my not insignificant closets (yep, plural boxes in plural closets).  I hate dusting bookcases full of books.  I hate the guilt and overwhelm of seeing lots of books I haven’t read.  I hate that I have secret urges to impress anyone who visits my house with my awesome collection of intelligent, quirky, and highly attractive books.

I don’t have a solid answer for reconciling these two sides of myself, but lately small purges have been a big help.  While I still have a hard time letting go of books that are “important” (even if I didn’t particularly care for them) or just plain pretty, I’m losing the fanatic acquisitiveness.  For the most part, I look for quality and memorability instead of books that seem cute but forgettable.  And it feels good.  I like looking at my books (I only have bookcases in two rooms of the house) and feeling like it’s a cohesive collection, not just a selection designed to make me look cool.  If you’re a fellow clutter-hating bibliophile, here’s what’s been working for me:

  • Always keep books you love.  A Room with a View stays, as does My Love Affair with Jewelry and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
  • Books that were “okay” should be loaned out or let go, no matter how nice they are.  Nice books that don’t get a visceral reaction are clutter in disguise.
  • Just a few at a time.  A full-force clutter raid just might launch an existential crisis in a BookLuster.  Tossing a book or two from the shelf to the “get rid of” pile when the mood strikes or the timing seems right works well enough.
  • Use the mantra, “You’re not losing a book.  You’re gaining a spot on your lifetime reading list.”

I’d love to know how other people manage to balance the collecting urge and the clutter busting urge.  Let me know if you’ve got any brilliant (or just above average) ideas.

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