Why Do I Unhaul Books? My Thoughts on Minimalism and Marie Kondo

thoughts orangutan

Last month, I decided to read my sister’s Marie Kondo book. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically an *extreme* tidying up method. Though I’m not much of a hoarder these days, I did need a kick up the butt to get rid of a few things, which the book provided- thanks book! Now, (because I can’t resist doing a mini review), this isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the book. It had some downsides:

magic of tidying marie kondo

It’s a bit extreme (for instance, it suggests ideal number of books for a person is 30… haha no!) It vaguely says that if you’re an academic, you can keep more of your books, but I just think there are plenty of other people made exuberantly happy by large book collections. I also think this a pretty subjective opinion to state as fact.

Not everything will “spark joy”, no matter how much you need it/probably shouldn’t part with it. And, when it comes to books, some books have a very negative vibe. Sticking to the subject of books, Solzhenitsyn, for instance, doesn’t exactly make me want to sing and dance!

It also (perhaps accidentally) encourages people to rebuy things they mistakenly discarded. But most people can’t afford to just purge and rebuy! In a similar vein, it argues that if you haven’t read a book you’ve hoarded, you never will. Granted, this will sometimes be true- but sometimes it’s just about committing to it (and unhauling and rehauling something you’re genuinely interested in isn’t a good plan).

HOWEVER I do personally think there’s an upside to thinking more critically about decluttering books- as Bookish Villainy discussed in her post “How Minimalism Has Improved My Book Collection and My Reading”. So what are my reasons for trimming down my collection?

Limited space. If you live and rent in a city, you’ll know that space is at a premium! Having too much stuff can create stress. There’s not only the issue of storing them in the short term, but also how overwhelming it can be in the event of an (inevitable) move etc. As much as I love having lots of books, I have to be mindful of how many I own.

Letting go of things you don’t love is healthy. For me, there’s no point keeping hold of things I don’t like/won’t read again. Sometimes it’s gotta move on in the great circle of book life and find people who will love it.

I like having a collection I truly know and love. I like the idea of enjoying everything I own. I love looking at a bookshelf where I can ogle my favourites and feel happy about having them there. I never get tired of looking at the books I adore 😉 (the downside, of course, is whenever I look at my bookshelf I’m tempted to reread something 😉)

So, those are my reasons I unhaul books. Do you unhaul books? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments! I’d be interested to hear your views!

74 thoughts on “Why Do I Unhaul Books? My Thoughts on Minimalism and Marie Kondo

  1. 30??? WTF! Even when I lived in a city and in a tiny bedsit, I am sure I had more than thirty and the idea that someone can give an optimum number of books is bizarre. Perhaps they do not readbut are talking from an interior designer’s viewpoint? I remember being appalled when I discovered that some bookshops sold old leather bound volumes by the yard to decorators. That said, it still strikes me when I visit friends’ houses and do not see even a single volume. Vive la difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I unhaul books all the time. Like you, I just don’t have the space. And, having moved more than once, I know how annoying/impossible it is to be overwhelmed with too many boxes. I try to cut down to books that I really love, that have sentimental attachments, that I can see myself rereading, and/or that I know are hard to get even from the library (most classics, any special editions, etc.). I see this as a good thing. I donate the books to the library or to my teacher friends’ classrooms, so I know they are being read by a larger number of people, instead of just sitting unread on my shelf.

    Like

  3. I don’t really “unhaul” specifically. When I started buying more books, my mum plainly told me “this house is not becoming a library”. Her reasoning was fair though. She said it would be hard to maintain all the books in good conditions considering the climate here. So I just made sure to buy more ebooks instead. When I do buy paperbacks, I largely buy them from a second-hand bookstore where we can “sell back”/get credit for half the price of the book. It helps me save cash (I was a student until recently) and also maintain space. Win-win! I only keep the books I REALLY love.

    Like

  4. I was the opposite, i didn’t really keep many books at all. My husband has 2 series that he loves and rereads all the time. And I got 95% of my books from the library. Recently, I’ve started keeping more books that I love and want my kids to read someday. So we probably have about 20 books total.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never unhauled a single book, but now that I’m looking at moving I’m really beginning to think…do I need all of these books? Should I keep only the ones I really love? I’m thinking during this initial move a lot of books will go into storage and probably stay there for a couple of years…and I’m fine with that…so should I even really bother keeping them? It’s a tough decision for me, but it’s one I’m thinking about. I might just start keeping the ones I truly adore.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha, I don’t believe you should listen too much to all those self-help books. Having said that, I probably live more or less according to Marie Kondo’s advice… Just went to my living room to count. Ok, not quite according to her advice, I have approx. 40 books 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. haha I agree! I’m not big on self-help books (but my sister is- so I like to check them out occasionally so I know what she’s talking about). But I do like some of Kondo’s advice (the folding method in particular is helping me out, cos I can get to things so much quicker!) haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great thoughts! I tend to buy new books and then (after I eventually read them) decide if I will re-read them. If the answer is yes, I keep them. If no, then I unhaul them. Mr. Wyrm also has a hoard of books that he re-reads a lot so between us we have a lot of books that will stay in our library.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I definitely agree with your thoughts on Marie Kondo’s extreme decluttering. I haven’t read the book, but I watched the first few episodes of the Netflix show and enjoyed it; it was satisfying to watch other people declutter and watch their stress float away. It also inspired me to move into my own place (for the first time) with little to no clutter (doing good so far!)
    As for unhauling books, I do it all the time! Sometimes it’s because I know I’m just never going to think about rereading it. Or I bought book because I couldn’t find it at my library/ I got impatient and wanted to read it ASAP. I always keep my favorites as well as ones that I might reread, but mostly I know I’ll be happy to see it on my shelf.

    Like

  9. Like Tanya, I borrow books from the library most of the time. We do own several hundred nonetheless. I studied Spanish and Latin American literature in school and find it hard to part with the books. I give away books I think I won’t reread and purge on a large scale every 10 years…due for one about now. 🙂

    Like

  10. I actually got rid of most of my books. And I admit I’m about to donate a few more. I have my nook which holds so many e copies…however, I do plan on buying one or two hardcovers that are just cute, and when they no longer resonate, I’ll ditch them. But I’m definitely heading towards Kondo spark joy

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Someone can tell Marie Kondo I’ve occasionally gotten around to reading books I had sitting around unread for TEN YEARS! 😀

    I do actually get rid of books, though. It’s a bit weird because I’ve probably gotten rid of hundreds of books overs the years but I also own…a lot. I mostly purge them when I move, but I think I’d also do it if I started running out of reasonable shelf space. I do think there’s value in keeping only books you life or have some sort of attachment to. Why keep a book you read in a giveaway and then hated, for instance?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The main reasons I unhaul books are:
    – The kids outgrew them
    – I have it as an ebook (and the physical copy is nothing special)
    – It’s genre fiction that I’ve read (or DNFed) and would never bother reading again
    – I received it as a gift or bought it dirt cheap at a library book sale ($5 per bag day!) & realize that I have no interest in it because it’s been sitting on a shelf for well over a year
    From where I’m sitting right now in my office I can see about 30 books…per shelf…on about 20 shelves. These are largely for research/reference, so I’m not likely to get rid of (m)any of them. At home we have probably twice this many in the fiction category, and those are a bit more subject to unhauling.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “For instance, it suggests ideal number of books for a person is 30… haha no!) “…erm….definitely no ! Lol 😂 I don’t think I have ever let go of a book. Not even the ones I don’t like. It’s strange but I just can’t get rid of things that I once bought, even if those things (whether they are books, dvds or whatever) disappointed me. It’s weird…it might even be a serious illness…but well…little I can do about it I guess😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m a bit of a book hoarder but if there’s a book I buy that I didn’t particularly enjoy I will definitely unhaul. I recently moved house and did get rid of a lot of books (or it felt like a lot) so pretty much all of the books I have left are collectors editions / signed copies or books I’ve yet to read. I plan on keeping the signed/collectors books particularly as it turns out a couple are rarer than I realised. I do think I could probably do with an ebook unhaul but have yet to figure out how to permanently delete eBooks.

    Like

  15. I love this post! But for me the real challenge is to find a new home for the (few) books I’d decluter as in my country not a lot read in English! And as I don’t want to thorw them in the bin (gasp!!) I morph into a book hoarder 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yeah… Her 30 book rule applies to the average person not avid bookworms for whom just the thought of holding a book brings unequivocal joy. I laugh every time I come across her 30 book rule. I don’t discount her methods for discarding clothing though! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I completely agree with you! For me, having books I love *definitely* brings me joy- so why would I give them up! But I agree- it helps with clothes, cos I’m not sentimental about them (and so far so good with the folding method as well- definitely making my life easier)

      Liked by 1 person

  17. 30 books?? I have 25 books in a shelf (that poor thing is struggling not to curve, so maybe not much of a good idea, I’m just running out of space).
    I’m bad at this. Like, so bad. I’m a hoarder and I can’t pass a bargain even if I’m not that interested in the book (and I am really messy, Kondo and I wouldn’t get along).
    I really need to get better. I’ve been thinking about unhauling books, something I have never done, but my collection is mixed with my mom’s and at this point I don’t remember which ones are hers and which ones I bought in second-hand stores so they’ll probably just end up in boxes 😅😅😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha I completely understand!! haha it being muddled up would make it more difficult! But honestly, I don’t feel like hoarding books is the worst thing in the world- if I could, I’d hoard so many more books than I do- they’re the kind of thing that brings me joy- and keeping things that bring you joy is really the point of Kondo’s message!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I regularly unhaul now. I spent my teens, 20’s and 30’s collecting and now? I’m looking at books I never plan on reading again and am like “Yep, that’s gotta go!” And if we ever have to move, having less books to pack and haul down 3 floors will be a literal life saver…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. When you have the chance, watch the Marie Kiddo sketches from All That. You will appreciate them and the joy thing…
    I only have 1.5 bookcases, so my book hoarding is very limited. I have gotten good at saying goodbye to books I know I won’t read again. I pretty much have signed copies, ones I’m saving for my daughter, and then new-ish ones I’ve gotten lately. Those will probably be unhauled when I get more physical books that I want to keep.

    Like

  20. Limited space is definitely my motivation to unhaul. I used to keep every book, but now that I’ve been blogging for years and publishers regularly send me books, that’s become unrealistic 😛 Now I keep the books I like, donate the rest!

    Like

  21. I don’t really unhaul books, but that’s mostly because books spark joy for me! I’ve bought a few books that I really disliked (enough that I DNF-ed them), but for those, I immediately use book crossing or drop it off at a 2nd-hand book store/book exchange so they don’t actually have to take up my shelf space. This is pretty rare though.

    Like

  22. Only having 30 books would certainly not spark joy for me! I am afraid I would even start to stress if I only had 30 unread books.

    I am particularly bad in unhauling books. I often buy books when traveling and I like to just look at them and think about the trip I got them – even if I didn’t like the book itself so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Haha…*extreme* each and every book I have sparks joy. 😛
    Not my fault that I’m not rich enough to have an enormous house and endless space/shelf space!?!
    Also, yesterday only a book box entrepreneur lady in India said what she tells her own friends when they say that she has too many books. There’s this Indian celebrity Saif Ali Khan, who’s an actor as well as descends from some royalty, meaning big house, huge space and yet his home library is cramped, shelves overflowing, books everywhere – on the tables, chairs, rug, etc. Yep, so that is what I aspire to, who cares about shelf space? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I quite like the overall concept of Marie Kondo’s ethos of not hoarding and get rid of something if it doesn’t ‘spark joy.’ I remember somebody else (no clue who) saying that something either needs to be beautiful or practical and if it’s neither – why do you have it?! In terms of books I am a book buyer and I suppose that’s my only regular ‘treat purchase’ so I don’t feel guilty about that. I don’t hoard them though and each year go through and donate books that I no longer want on my shelves and it’s usually because it was a book I just didn’t really like. I don’t have the space to keep it all!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I unhaul books from time to time and either give them to friends or bring them to the library / public book cupboards so other people can enjoy them. My main reason is the space aspect. I live in a city and already put some books in our shared living room because there is not any space left in my room 😀 And back home at my dad’s the shelves are full as well. But I only unhaul books I didn’t like or know I’ll never read anyways because it is and has always been my dream to have my own library someday… and I can’t do that without books 😀

    Like

  26. I actually really like the Kondo book when I read it (and I still have my copy – take that Marie Kondo 😂). But I also totally get what she was getting at, although it was really extreme. I have very rarely felt like “I have nothing to wear” after I got rid of 2/3 of my wardrobe. It’s not a capsule wardrobe by any means, but I either donated or threw out everything I didn’t like or was making me feel bad because it didn’t fit me any more, but “it might one day”. But it does mean that all the things I have left are clothes that I genuinely love wearing, which is so freeing.
    I did also donate books that didn’t make me happy, such as Cursed Child. Damn I hated that book, but I had always kept my copy to sit with the other HP books because they were part of a set. But it made me angry every time I saw it. So I got rid if it.
    Logically I know all of this makes sense, and maybe I had (have?) some hoarding tendencies. But I’m a lot better now than I was!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I get that- I think there’s really useful things in there (especially when it comes to some of the folding methods, which I’ve been trying and definitely makes it quicker for me to find things!) I guess when it comes to clothes, I’m not sentimental, regularly clear them out and keep it to a small number anyway, so it didn’t have a massive impact, but I get what you’re saying. And I hear you there- it’s definitely freeing to get rid of books you don’t like! I completely get what you mean- I held onto books for the same reason. That’s good!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Marie Kondo reminds me of the Feng Shui gurus of the 1990s, when they encouraged yuppies to unload most of their belongings to create a more “flowing” space in their ridiculously overpriced homes. 😉 There are benefits to making sure any sort of possession doesn’t own you – but there are also lots of downsides to going minimalist just for the sake of a trend, especially when you’d be parting with something that makes you genuinely happy and enriches life. I don’t own a ton of books because of money and space, but if either or both of those changed, look out! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. haha! I (luckily) was completely oblivious to that, but it’s not surprising to me that this has been around before 😉 And that’s a good way to put 0t- I agree. Absolutely! And that’s totally fair!! haha I’m in the same boat! 😉 (if I had more space, minimalism can go right out the window!!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I was into “arrange your belongings in the way that makes you haaaapy” before it was cool. 😉 When I first heard Marie Kondo’s name and had no idea what people were swooning over, I looked her up and went, “Oh, yeah, she’s a Feng Shui guru for the folks who missed it 20 years ago.”

        Like

  28. Interesting topic! 30 books? That’s so silly. I have overflowing bookshelves at the moment, but that’s okay. I do occasional purges, fill up my trunk and drive all my discarded books over to the library donation center, where hopefully they’ll be resold and benefit the library. I’ll mostly get rid of books that I’ve had for years and realize I don’t have any further interest in. The problem is compounded by the library’s huge sales with $2 paperbooks, where I always end up coming home with bags and bags of books. I do enjoy just seeing my shelves and all my favorite books and knowing that they’re there for me. It’s like getting a hug!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. haha I agree!! Such a random number!! There’s no reason behind it either (purely that she anecdotally likes to have this arbitrary number of books… and you can see already I’m getting heated, so I’ll just stop 😉 I just thought it might be something she had more of a reason for!) That’s really good! haha I do understand that- but that’s part of the fun of giving books away… to make room for new ones!! YES!! Me too! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  29. ‘Maximum 30 books’. Hahahahahahahaha. <_<

    That is the definition of subjective.

    I completely agree with all your points! I do unhaul as I:
    A) don't see the point of having a book that I've read take up space on my shelf when I didn't enjoy it or know that I'm not gonna re-read it,
    B) get this hit of dopamine when I get to resell it and get money for it! (which can also mean more money for new books!)

    And yes, I feel pride and joy when I look at my shelf with books that I've thoroughly enjoyed, it's like a window to my soul, haha. And I want others to look at it and check them out, kind of like wanting to recommend books you love to others.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. 30 books?! Is that woman crazy????? No, don’t bother answering- I know she is. 😉
    There was a time when I sold lots of my books on eBay because I thought I wouldn’t read them again and have regretted it ever since. So now when I think I might want to get rid of a book I put it in the hallway (what a grand word for a tiny space 😉) for a week or two and if I don’t mind it missing from the shelf then it can go. Needless to say some books made the trip back to the shelf. 😉💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahaha I know!! I already knew she had this policy… but have to admit expected there to be more to it than “I like it”- cos then anyone else could say, but I like MORE than 30. Oh I think that’s a good way to do it- and I hear you- I have to be careful about getting rid of things, cos I have a habit of throwing things out and then forgetting them. So I try to be patient and wait with them out of the way for a while as well- if I still feel the same way, I get rid of them. hahaha I get that!! 😉 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  31. A limit of 30 books? That’s absolutely insane, but I do see the value of unhauling books. I have two drawers worth of books to unhaul, just that my local charity shops don’t take donations, but practically speaking I need the shelf space and I’d rather someone else get use of the books than have them gathering dust and taking space from the books I love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I completely disagree with that (and also a really random number tbh with no real reason behind it beyond her own personal preference). I understand- it’s really tricky to give donations atm in particular! And I agree!!

      Like

  32. This is a great post and I agree with all of your points. I’m going through a purge of owned books right now (concentrating on the moment of those that I haven’t yet read) and there’s something freeing about giving them up in a way? But I’m keeping those I want even if it’s an immense amount of books because having a lot of them does bring me joy. I love being surrounded by books! Hard to do with only 30 haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. After years of boxes in storage I stripped my collection right down. It hurt but I don’t really regret it. I have a box of academic papers too but hey what can you do. Thirty is way too few – I wasn’t intending this to rhyme lol. Some books you simply need to hold in your hands

    Like

  34. I also unhaul my books every so often. There’s no point in keeping a book I didn’t really care for and will definitely not read again. But I also think the 30 book limit is preposterous. I easily have more than 30 books I’ve read more than one. In fact … excuse me I’m going to go count. 74 at a quick glance, which doesn’t even count my children’s books. OR the picture books, for that matter.

    Like

  35. I love having books around and I find it difficult to part with some of my childhood books. Though I do unhaul books once in a while. I usually get rid of books I don’t like or textbooks from university that I don’t need anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. “it suggests ideal number of books for a person is 30… haha no!) It vaguely says that if you’re an academic, you can keep more of your books”
    Ohforgoodnesssake.

    I’m a huge rereader, so I only unhaul books that I haven’t enjoyed that much (those under 3 stars). Then again, I don’t buy many, so I’m not at the “where am I going to put them” stage LOL.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s