When the year first began, Netflix released a new show called “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” a reality TV series where famed organizer Marie Kondo comes to your house and cleans it for you. She uses her very famous method of taking everything out of your closets and shelves, holding up each thing, and asking yourself if this thing sparks joy. It sounds like a dream; the kind of thing you want to do at the beginning of the year.
However, at some point in the show, Marie Kondo takes on someone’s bookshelf. She talks about cleaning the shelves and only keeping books that spark joy. This brought up some controversy especially in the reading community.
For voracious readers like us, books are life. We spend more money on books than we do on food or clothes. We stock our shelves to the brim with titles we’ll want to read or have read. I’ve got bookshelves that are double stacked, triple stacked. I have bookshelves where the middle of the shelf is bowing because of the weight. But I have a confession: I do KonMari my books.
To be completely honest, I’ve actually suggested in the past that people KonMari their books as well. I constantly re-evaluate my TBR shelf and see what I want to read eventually and what I know won’t ever go through my hands.
Every year, at the beginning of the year, I review all my books from my TBR as well as what I read over the course of the year and I ask myself “did I love this book enough to put it on my shelf? Do I see myself reading this book again in the future?” From that, I make the decision to keep the book or donate the book.
Perhaps it’s because I’m rarely sentimental about things, but one thing I know for sure is that I don’t want to keep books that I didn’t like. My tastes are my own and if I didn’t like something or it didn’t wow me, then I want to donate that book to someone who may benefit from it.
And there are downsides to this method. I recently went through my TBR list to find more nonfiction novels to read this year. Amongst them was a book I thought I had, but it turns out I had donated a while back. I KonMari’d a book that didn’t suit me at the time, but now makes sense to read. I smacked myself on the head for that one.
Despite all the mishaps of KonMari-ing your books, I think the one piece of advice you should always consider is what will make you happy; what will spark joy. That’s what Marie Kondo is trying to say when she tells you to organize your bookshelf. It’s not about getting rid of your books, but looking at your reading life and seeing what you love and what you don’t love. You’ll find a lot about yourself from discovering those mysteries.
If you can’t part with any of your books, don’t. Perhaps if you do have a cluttered mess of books it’s time to buy a new book shelf. Perhaps it’s going through your shelves and removing the ones you know you’ll never read. But your reading life is your own and let your personal guiding principles dictate what you do with your books.
However, if you’re looking to organize the other parts of your life, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’ll really change the way you live your life.