Before & After: Bookshelf

How I came across Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was finding it on someone’s stoop, left for the passerby to pick up. Now I know whoever left that book (for me) has realized that the book has fulfilled its purpose in their home. I imagine they had followed the KonMari method and said “Thank You” before discarding it. And magically, it came to me at the right moment and changed my life.

Books are very difficult for many people to let go. It’s as if we are throwing away knowledge, or might disappoint whoever recommended the book to us, especially if we haven’t read it. There’s the fear of what if I need to reference it again. Or the guilt of not able to find time to finish or even open it.

According to Marie Kondo, timing is everything. And the time to read a book is right when you get it. Think about your favorite books, were you excited to open it and couldn’t put it down? And the ones you were not so sure about from the start, tried many times to read, but easily got distracted and lost interest?

In this week’s Before & After, my client was motivated by having a donation pick up in a couple weeks to go through her books.

Before: Bookshelf


It turns out she had more difficulties discarding books than she expected because many of them had sentimental values to her. This is very common because people like giving books as gifts. However, the purpose of a book is to be read, or even just a cover that you enjoy to look at. If a gift book doesn’t bring you joy, it’s time to say thank you to the book for teaching you that’s not the kind of book you like to read. And in your heart, thank the person for being thoughtful before donating the book to give it to someone you know will really enjoy it.

After: Bookshelf


We tidy books the same way we do with clothing. Take everything off the shelf and pick up the book one by one. The key is to not open the books, which clouds your judgment. You want to just hold the book and allow your quiet mind to feel whether it sparks joy for you. For the books that you bought but never read and feel bad about, if you haven’t made time to read it by now, that “someday” will never come. From Kondo’s experience, she said the information will come back to you when you need it. It sounds a bit out there, but I’ve got to believe it based on my experience with her book.

When placing your books back, I like lining them up by size. If they are in different categories, then I start out with the tallest book in that category again. I have always been fascinated that somehow the spines just look prettier, and often like in this Afterimage, the colors just creates a nice gradation. Don’t they look more inviting?

How about creating a bookshelf of only the books you love?



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