Most of us have been taught that books are our friends. We think about all the vicarious adventures we’ve had with Jo March and her sisters or Harry Potter and his wizarding world. But there is a dark side to our book collections that haunts us with fear and guilt.
When was the last time you counted how many UNread books you have on your shelves? Look closely at the titles and see if there is a theme. At one point in my life — long before I became The Declutter Lady — I had over 20 books about how to get organized. And yet my house was a disaster. When I did finally get my act together, I decluttered many of those same books. Ironically, now that I am an organizing professional, I find that I am bringing some titles back in order to help educate others or to inspire my writing.
These days, the titles that catch my attention tend to center around building a business. I have to be careful, though. When we buy books and then don’t read them, we are inundated with guilt because we wasted money, wasted time, wasted energy but received no benefit. Just because the book sounds like it can help, just reading doesn’t cut it. I learned long ago that you have to actually follow the advice in order to reap the benefits!
Some of us have college text books or information about hobbies that we no longer pursue. I’ve talked with people who are afraid to get rid of these because, as they put it, “This is who I am.” Without the books and papers, they felt they had no identity. But that’s not true.
The books we read, like the friends with who we surround ourselves, do influence us. And we, in turn, influence others. If those books aren’t helping you contribute to improving your immediate sphere, maybe it’s time to let them go; just like “friends” with whom we no longer have things in common.
Are there books in your collection that are hindering you from moving forward in your life? Post your decluttering progress in the comments below.
Brenda Spandrio, The Declutter Lady