Ok this might be the most controversial part of Marie Kondo’s life changing magic of tidying up, more commonly known as the Konmari method.
It seems it makes those of us with large precious book collections… a tad nervous! And well, from one avid reader to another, we all know that one can become quite attached to our books, whether they are read regularly or not.
So is the konmari method for books really useful after all? Is it a good idea for book lovers to hold onto their collections of books or should we be discarding them for the sake of having less? Read on to find out…
What is the Konmari Method?
The basics of the Konmari Method are:
- Declutter your home by categories rather than by room.
- Go through the categories of stuff in your home in the correct order. (Clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, and then sentimental)
- Take everything from a category out at one time.
- Pick up each item and decide whether the item sparks joy for you.
- Express appreciation for an item as you discard it.
- Use vertical storage methods.
- Keep all items that you own accessible all the time. No off-season storage.
- Use inexpensive storage solutions.
- Storing like items together, and where they are easiest to put away.
Note: I don’t recommend the Konmari Method for readers who feel extremely overwhelmed with decluttering their homes and/or struggle with physical or mental health issues, complex home situations, hoarding etc.
Instead I recommend Decluttering at the Speed of Life as a more helpful and encouraging approach to decluttering you home!
If you are ready to use the Konmari method with your overflowing book collection though, read on!
Konmari Method For Books
Here’s how to declutter books and decide what books to get rid of using the Konmari Method.
1. Put All Your Books On The Floor
Yes, you’ve heard that right, first step is to take all your books out of your bookcases or shelves and put them on the floor. Looking at your books and deciding what to get rid of while they are sitting on your bookshelves is not as effective.
Maybe its a subtle ploy by Marie Kondo to shock us into deciding that we really have too many books and some need to go!
But heck my books don’t all fit on the floor?
Then you want to go through them in categories:
- General (books you read for pleasure)
- Practical (reference books, DIY books, self-help books, cook books)
- Visual (coffee table books, look books)
2. Hold Each Book & Decide Whether It “Sparks Joy”
The key is to touch each book and NOT STARTING READING each book. Reading the book affects your judgement about whether to keep it or discard it.
The focus on sorting books with the Konmari Method, is working out how you feel about a book not whether its still useful to you or not. Does a book give you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it?
Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?Marie Kondo
What about unread books?
Or half read books? Or books you might read again one day? The Konmari method suggests forgetting about those things as a criteria for what you keep and don’t keep. Instead, think of those books having fulfilled their purpose already, and so feel free to let go of them with gratitude.
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
That is the trap of stuff, isn’t it? Does what we own reflect the life we live right now? So declutter your to-do list as well, and let go of those unread books.
Applying The Konmari Method For Books
I found this approach helpful this first time I used it to declutter my book collection. It helped me let go of several marriage books that I had and which definitely did not spark joy when I held them. I got rid of several more parenting books for the same reason.
However I couldn’t strictly follow the konmari method with some of my reference quides though. I might finally decide I have the time and resources to invest in a backyard vegie garden one day. Then where would I be without my vegetable gardening book?
It worked out though because I gave myself a limit for storage space. (See the container concept) I have one shelf, about 45 books, on our large bookcase in our living room.
My 12 year old daughter has 2 shelves for her books! That’s enough for me because we are big borrowers of books from the local library.