How To Sort Your Books the Marie KondoWay

Are You Really Going To Read That?

As a writer, I know how hard it is to get rid of books. Books form our identity, similar to clothes. When people visit, how nice is it to have a shelf packed with books to make you look smart and well-read? Or maybe to remind us to learn how to crochet baskets, or remodel the kitchen, or rebuild a Mustang. Trouble is, we can end up holding onto things that sound interesting, but maybe aren’t really us.

Osmosis Doesn’t Exist

For those of us with varied interests, walking into a bookstore is the same as sweet tooths walking into a candy store. We want to learn everything! I want to learn Finnish, digital photography, roller skating tricks, and moongarden techniques. I want to design my own quilts, and dye my own wool, knit my own sweaters, bake fruity pies, and build my own bed. The question is, What do I actually want to devote time to?

Often, it’s easier to buy the book than actually read it. It’s like buying an overpriced post-it to remind yourself to learn something.

Proust Is Not A Hit At Parties

There are those books that sometimes we pick up because they’re classics, or they’re by authors we “should” read. They might be thick as cinder blocks but hey, smart people said these books are the bomb, so if you want to be a smarty pants too, it better be on your bookshelf (taking up space).

I had a copy of Shakespeare’s collected works and numerous copies of the Best Short Stories for every year starting in 1999 because I wanted to put these pieces of literature into my brain. I just didn’t want to actually read them.

Books Are Free

Remember that place called a library? You can rent books for free. You don't have to buy it and store it. If you find yourself in bookstores incapable of not purchasing dozens of new friends and bringing them home, try some of these ideas:

  • Photograph the book cover of something that sounds interesting.

  • Keep a list of titles you want to read.

  • Check it out from the library.

  • Read and enjoy. Return it to the library.

Or, and this is often what happens to me:

  • Start reading and get distracted by other things.

Maybe I don't get through the book, but I do return it.

If I don't finish something, that's one less book taking up space at home.

If I do finish something, well, that's still one less book taking up space at home.

How To Be Ruthless

I went through all my books initially and thought I'd done a great job. Then I got Marie's second book. She said she keeps the number of books in her house under 40!

I had probably twice that.

Having a specific number helped me be more ruthless with my books. This applies to other things too. We only have so much space. Ask yourself, does this really bring me joy, or am I keeping it for some other reason that's more related to fear?

Make it a game.

Can I get my books down to 40? Can I cut the number of shoes I have in half? How low can you go? You'll be surprised!

Happy Tidying,


Photo credit: Morgan Harper Nichols on Unsplash