The Empty Bookshelf

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”  (Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, p.60)

Tidying guro, Marie Kondo says start with your bookshelf.march 2016 books 016

Don’t just scan through the books on your shelves, she counsels, but take each book out and make a big pile of them on the floor and one by one pick each book up and ask,”Does this bring me joy?”

Books are memory.  I love the books on my shelf that reminded me of what I once loved and read.

Books are possiblity.  I love the books that contain the possibility that one march 2016 books 009day I may actually read them.

Books are status.  I love the books on my shelf that say, “This is a fine bookcase because you have me on your shelf.”

Books are treasure.  Those books that I would take with me to a desert isle because they are part of me.

Marie Kondo helps me rethink my relationship to books:

“If you missed your chance to read a particular book, even if it was recommended to you or is one you have been intending to read for ages, this is your chance to let it go.  You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven’t read it by now, the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it.”  (Marie Kondo, p. 91)

Can it really be that I bought this book to teach me that I don’t need it?march 2016 books 018

I pick it up, I let it go.

“There’s no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through.  Their purpose was to be read halfway.  So get rid of all those unread books.  It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years.”  (Marie Kondo, p. 91)

march 2016 books 017

I pick it up, I let it go.

march 2016 books 014Wow, this is hard.  So simple and so hard.  In filling the boxes with what I no longer need, I realize how I struggle to let go of so much in my life.

I live so often in the place of someday…I might…I could…. My life is full of a clutter of possibilities.

The moment is now she says:  “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.”  (Marie Kondo, p.95)

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life.  You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role…..By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order.  In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure…” (Marie Kondo, p. 60)

Who will I be with an empty bookshelf, full of nothing but joy?  What will march 2016 books 011come in to fill the empty space?  Will it be enough?  Do I have enough faith to believe, to trust in the emptying will be room for all filling, for what I really need today?

I’m a work in process,

I’m letting go

making room for the treasure

I otherwise

might have missed.

march 2016 books 015


4 thoughts on “The Empty Bookshelf”

  1. What a great article. I love my books. They are like friends. I am able to go places and see things and do things with these friends of mine that I would never be able to without them. I read them and leave messages and I draw pictures on the pages. Hopefully my son will get to know these friends and introduce them to other friends. Corky


  2. Peter, I too have been struggling to let go of a lot of the books on my shelf. It is surprisingly hard. They are old friends, or friends I never got to know, friends I couldn’t hang in there long enough with in order to finish. I had to call for help. My daughter flew up from San Francisco just to cheer me on and tell me I could to it. I am impressed you could manage on your own and I love the new book you made room for. Looks like there might be another adventure in your future!


  3. I sell all my books after I read them, BUT first I write the titles and authors in a little green notebook, and a one line synopsis what it was about. I’ve been doing this for 25 years.

    And I belong to a 7 member Book Club, which has been meeting monthly for
    23 years. I love to read.

    My daughter, Laura, says “There’s no point in giving books to my Mom, because she’s read them all!”


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