When I started to lean into Minimalism, the first push-back I encountered was the idea of getting rid of my books.
Books have always been my friends. Literally, that’s what I call them—my friends.
I’ve gone through some hard patches in my life. More so than most, less than some. Throughout it all, I could open a book and disappear into a better world within moments. Those stories took me out of the world that hurt so bad and made things seem better, brighter.
The thought of getting rid of any of these books made my stomach do a flip-flop.
But the more I learned, the better it seemed to be.
For one, minimalism doesn’t mean that you get rid of all your stuff. Not at all. What it means is—have what brings you joy, what is useful, or what is beautiful.
Which meant that when I unpacked all of my books, I took a good long look at each and every one of them and asked them three questions:
- “Do you bring me joy?”
- “Are you useful?”
- “Are you beautiful?”
If the answer to any of those was, “Yes,” then I kept the book.
For all others, they went into the pile.
I didn’t count. I didn’t want to.
Suffice it to say I had more than ten boxes full of books and dvds. Hundreds of books, most like.
And I reduced everything down to two piles:
Probationary books have one year to prove their usefulness. As I put them on their bookshelf, I’ll be shelving them upside-down. If I take the book down and use it—really use it—I’ll put it back right-side up.
This isn’t to say that I’m not going to read plenty of books—I will. But if I’m honest with myself (and minimalism forces you to be honest with yourself), I read about 80% of last year’s books on my Kindle or through audiobook. The other 20% I can always borrow from friends, family, or the library. And as it so happens, I now live less than ten minutes from my childhood library.
Similarly, my gigantic-to-me collection of DVD’s largely hit the pavement. Out of more than forty or fifty, including some television series that I still adore, I kept sixteen. These are the movies I replay over and over. They’re the ones I reach for when I have a fever or a bad cold and need a little comfort.
For new releases, I can either set up a movie date with some friends of mine, rent, or borrow from the library. I don’t need to own everything to access it.
Additionally, I’ve decided to cancel Amazon Prime, delete my Netflix profile, and drastically reduce my YouTube subscription base. I want to use the time I would have spent binge-watching new television shows to walk, play with my dogs, create artwork, write stories, study coursework, learn new food recipes, and build upon my relationships.
I don’t mind stuff, and I don’t mind television or movies, I just don’t want them to be a primary focus in my life.
I loved my books. They were all well cared for. But when I packed them all up and drove them to Half Priced Books to sell, I couldn’t stop smiling. I knew they were going to find their way to a better home, and I knew that I now had less stuff to move, dust, and pay rent on.
Also, it took more than an hour for the staff at HPB to go through my collection, and I spent the time wandering the store. There were a lot of books I wanted to read. Instead of grabbing them to buy, I took photos of the ones I thought I’d actually sit down with. I’ll either reserve those books at the library or see if I can get a Kindle edition.
I’ve removed more than an entire large bookshelf worth of collection, and I haven’t missed one of them yet.
If I do, I know that they’re a short drive and a ten cent late-fine at the library away.