Books in Dwellings. Where do I start ? We read. We love books ! If anything should be displayed, let them be books. When it comes to form and functionality, books and plants give more return than any ornamental display. We own over 200 physical books at home. Most of them read. Harsha moved on to reading online articles. I read everything in every form. My favourite book of all time is Somerset Maugham’s Razors Edge. Its about a man who gives up everything that’s deemed necessary and normal, to travel the world and amass knowledge. If I lived in Paris in the 60’s, I would have been Maugham’s groupie.
I let go of two full bookshelves and it still saddens me.
Purpose: Half the books have become ornamental. We havent read fiction in over 6 years now. We now read biography/knowledge based books. And some Haruki Murakami + George R R Martin. But hold on to novels and random thrift store finds from 10 years ago. We downsized and moved into this tiny cottage on a mountain. The place is so beautiful that we do not want to bog it down with clutter. We want to move to downtown SFO after a year in this place. We dont want to make choices because of the stuff we own, but want life to be otherway around. My partner wants to keep all the books we can, and I find it easier to let things go since I am deep into this cleanse. Its still hard when it comes to books. Closet, kitchen, furniture and home decor was easier. Here are some ways I made it easier on myself. 1. Kindle: This is the best device I ever bought for myself. For the last year, there have been minimal incoming physical books. Its easy to highlight. I can access the material from my phone, home computer, work computer, etc. I had a BIG mental block on how digital reading is not the same as using paper. That prejudice lived for exactly a day. I took a 24 hours flight to India. I finished Game of Thrones book 1 and read some Hamurai Murakami on the way. I also highlighted all the clues that lead to my discovery of who John Snows mother is ! I can read faster on the kindle. Its less stressful on the eyes. And the ease of highlighting and bookmarking is remarkable. It weighs nothing.
2. Mindset: Not having physical books is not detrimental to actual reading. It is not. And books as ornaments is very 18th century. Knowledge, not library. The most well read people I know do not own stuff. Nor do they have criteria on the right conditions to inspire them to read. They read voraciously no matter what and in what ever form.
3. Classics: I was majorly into classics. I read the 1000 page Les Miserables as a kid. Most of the classics are now available as a pdf online. For free. Kindle lets you email a pdf and read it on the device. I have read them once and it was an enormous time commitment. In reality, I may never re-read them. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a wonderful man, but I dont want read him again when there is so much more to read. There are two books ( Maugham ) that I do from time to time. And everything else was let go.
4. Embrace online reading: Comics, technical books, science and religion debates, etc are available online. All the geeks and nerds in my department were angry when I donated my Calvin and Hobbs set. Its all available online !
5. Sentimental: Harsha got me the book ‘Born Free’, a few months after we started dating. He said – he saw it and it reminded him of me. No, I never lived in the wild but the sentiment that he thought I was that girl made me really happy. I read the book. I will never re-read it again. But when i see the book, it reminds me of that day, the time and the feeling – new love. Same with Heidi. The book is about a girl, her grandfather and the mountains. I read it as a little girl, and hoarded the book for all these years. I dont think I will re-read it. I read naturalists ( John Muir, Luther Bear, Thoreau, Waldo Emerson, … ) now. Its the nature fix for grown ups and the real deal. I took pictures of such books and wrote a little note for each of them. And uploaded them to my evernote. Best i can do at this point.
6. Cookbooks: Its easy to let go of the novels. But cookbooks are my best friends. I read them and re-read them all the time. Ofcourse, I only let the really phenomenal books ( Tamara Adler ) enter my kitchen. I wish I bought them all as ebooks. I didnt. The older European authors and chefs don’t have their books available as ebooks, what a shame ! So i feel i have no choice but to keep them.
7. Good deed: It could help someone ! Thats real love of books. I hope all these donation centers are helping kids find the books they could love. There is nothing sadder than unused untouched unread books. Nothing !
8. Brutal Honesty: “If we have it around, I may pick it up and read. We own it anyways”, he says. Will I really read this or re-read this ? Time to be honest with self. If it hasn’t happened in the last 5 years, all the statistical methods in the world say it may not happen in the future.
9. Me Vs Him: Its easy to save my cookbooks and let go of his novels by telling him about how he hasnt ready any of them since 2010. Its hard when one partner wants to let go and the other wants to keep. I dont know how to solve this ! Notes to self : try not to encroach into his territory and make him do things he doesnt want to do.
10. Dont throw everything away just for a count. End of the day, the unnecessary had to go. Was it easy? No ! Was it painful? Not as much as i anticipated it would be. Writing this post definitely helped. But 30% of my collection survived and it’s true love.
I hope one day in the far off future, I can look at this post and remember why I downsized my possessions. Source for the Illustration : BrainPickings