Beat Book Clutter

This guest post is provided by Kate Ibbotson, owner of A Tidy Mind covering West and North Yorkshire. She discusses a certain category of possessions which can be a personal nemesis for many of us.


“Just so you know, we’re not touching my books!” An actual phrase. Heard from the mouths of my clients. A lot.

I think the reason for the reluctance lies in what books represent.

A promise? Read this book and you will be better, richer, saner, cleverer. You’ll see the world in a new way. Between these pages is a club you need to be a part of. Well no….between those pages is ink. The different world is in your mind. Within you. It’s all in you.

Let me clarify: I do love books. They are wonderful, or rather, their writers are. I have read some incredible, life affirming, thought provoking ones. Some have contained shout out loud, satisfying “Yes THIS” moments. Others have only reluctantly been put down on the bedside table after my eyes started closing involuntarily.

However! Like with any category of item within your home, too great a number of items can take something away from the truly important ones.

Forget the concept of decluttering for now. That’s incidental anyway. For the focus is always on what you keep rather than what you discard.

Therefore, I’d like to invite you to complete an exercise in rediscovery:

Gather up your books, from every corner of your home. All of them! Pile them up on a the floor. For some this will look like a decent stack. For others. it will resemble a mountain.

Next, in turn give each book your full attention, if only for a second or two. Reconnect with the reasons why you first acquired it. Revisit it mentally and emotionally. Your books, whether you realise it or not, belong to distinct leagues.

League 1)
Some books are the equivalent of a warm hug. You know you will read them over and over and the familiarity will only add to their appeal. Clearly, these are keepers (this won’t apply to a huge number though, let’s be honest)

League 2)
Then there are the books that truly bring a smile to your face and a fuzzy feeling to your being, even when you just catch sight of their spine on the shelf. Why they have this effect is completely particular to you. The contents may be spellbinding but equally, they may not. They may simply remind you of a special person, place or era. It matters not. These too have a permanent place in your home, whether or not you end up re-reading them.

League 3)
The next level is where is gets harder to gauge. What if you enjoyed a book at the time but now feel indifferent? You won’t reread it. In these cases (and there are many) I advocate that the book has served it’s purpose. It’s now time to donate it so that someone else can read it. And who knows, perhaps to them it will end up in one of the two leagues above.

League 4)
We’ve all done it: owned books for quite some time that we (whisper it) haven’t read yet. If you haven’t read them within a few months of acquiring them, you most likely won’t. Maybe you read the first few pages and for some reason, you weren’t feeling it. Perhaps your reading style and the writers writing style didn’t gel (this really is a thing apparently) Or the story didn’t spark your interest. Or you picked it up for less that authentic to yourself reasons. Now, here is the book, with it’s tight spine and pristine cover highlighting your mistake over and over. DON’T battle through a book that you’re not enjoying. Life’s too short when there are plenty of League 1’s out there. Let it go. It’s not you and it’s not it. You just weren’t right for each other.

League 5)
Now it starts getting easier again. Some books are just sad, bad or make you mad. It they are associated with a negative or indifferent emotion, cut them loose. Hopefully they can make someone else happier than they made you.

Ultimately, books – at least ones that deserves a permanent place in your home- are a feeling. They are the sparks that helps create a warm, inviting fire within your home.

So don’t let the wrong books dull their sparkle.

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