Breaking The Sentimental Attachment To Books

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Robyn Devine of She Makes Hats.

It is unmistakably comforting to curl up in a thick chair with a tattered copy of a book you love, listening to the rain while you let yourself get carried away by the words on the page. I know – I used to hoard books. Don’t let the title “minimalist” scare you off – I have a love of books that dates back to my years toddling around with Dr. Seuss, a love that was handed down from my mother.

Until just a few years ago, books were stacked everywhere in my home. My two huge book cases were double-stacked with volumes ranging from children’s fiction to college text books, and piles had formed next to couches and the bed, not to mention on any available surface. I could not imagine my life without these friends surrounding me – the very thought of letting go of just one was enough to send me hurling at my shelves, attempting to wrap my arms around every book I owned in protection.

Today, I am the proud owner of approximately 20 books – six of which are craft books. To move from one extreme to the other took some serious work, and was not an overnight process. It started with the realization that I was not so much attached to the stories and words themselves, but the physical books sitting on the shelves. Once I had that realization, I began to let go of some of my books, and moved slowly towards a more minimalist reading collection.

The best way for any book-collector to tackle their bookshelves is by looking at one book at a time. When we look at the whole expanse of our book collection, it can be hard to imagine ever letting a single book go, but in reality there are volumes hiding on those shelves that we truly don’t need or want. Taking time to pull a book down off the shelf and truly look at it as an individual item will help you decide for that book alone if staying on your shelves is the best option.

Here are a few suggestions to help even the biggest bibliophile relieve your sagging shelves of stress:

1. Write It Down. Sometimes, it’s the way a book made us feel, our connection to the story or a character that keeps us from letting go of the book itself. Take some time to write down those feelings, those connections. Maybe you’ll keep these notes on your computer or in a notebook, or maybe you’ll begin a blog for them. Once you get those emotions and thoughts out, it can be easier to pass the book on to someone else who you think would love the story as much as you did.

Tiny Action: Grab a notebook and start writing down your thoughts about each book as you take it off your shelves. If you can’t think of anything to say, you probably won’t miss the book if it weren’t there anymore.

2. Divide. Get ruthless with your “yet to read” pile. My rule of thumb is simple: If it hasn’t been read in six months, it probably won’t ever be read. I went so far as to test this theory myself as I found books on my shelves I hadn’t yet read, but couldn’t yet bear to let go. I dedicated a shelf to “need to read” books, and noted the date. Any books that started out on that shelf on that date but were still there six months later I purged – I had discovered I truly had no desire to read them!

Tiny Action: Let go of any book you haven’t read yet that has been on your shelves for more than six months. Afraid you’ll want to read it someday? Make a note of it in your notebook – title, author, ISBN number even – so you can find it at the library if you truly want to read it later.

3. One of the best ways to make use of your book collection is to share it with others! As you look at books, anytime you find yourself thinking “So and so would LOVE this book!” write that name down on a sticky note, stick it on the front cover, and set the book aside. After you’ve got 20 or so books in a pile, begin handing them out – drive to friends’ houses and drop them off, or put them in the mail (book rate shipping is SUPER cheap).

Tiny Action: Pick five books off your shelves that you’d love to share with someone else, and then send them off to their new homes. Today.

4. Set aside one shelf of your book case as your “desert island” shelf. Most book lovers have books they know they will never let go of, no matter what. I call these “desert island” books – they are the books I’d want with me if I were stranded on a desert island, that I could read over and over again for the rest of my life. As you come across these books in your collection, add them to your shelf. Not only is it comforting to see those books being saved as you pare down others, you now have a physical boundary – you can have no more “desert island” books than will fit in this one space, so you are forced to think analytically about your collection.

Tiny Action: Clear off one shelf to keep as your “desert island” shelf. It can only hold one row of books – no double stacks or piles!

5. Organize your non-fiction books by topic. I found when I began to organize my non-fiction books by topic, I had overlaps in some subjects. For me, the largest overlaps came in religious studies (my major in college). As I saw where I’d doubled up on topic, it was easier to let go of a few books.

Tiny Action: Organize your books by topic and author. Begin to pare down where you see overlaps.

6. Look for multiple copies, and get rid of them. You may laugh, thinking you would NEVER buy a multiple of a book, but trust me when I say I’ve found multiple copies of books on the shelves of almost every sentimental bibliophile I’ve met. Once you have more than a shelf or two of books (not a book CASE or two, a SHELF or two!), the chances of your remembering what books you own dwindles. Even if you love the book, there is never a need to own more than one copy of it!

Tiny Action: Every time you notice a multiple of a book, immediately give one copy away.

While going through this process, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Take breaks. When I first began paring down my books, I would get dizzy after 15 minutes!
  • Take five minutes to step away anytime you begin to feel overwhelmed – this is a new experience for your body, and it takes some getting used to!
  • Stay hydrated. I found I would get drained and tired as I went through my books – keeping a glass of water next to me helped keep me alert and focused.
  • Set a timer. Sort through your books for no more than 30 minutes the first go-round or you will find yourself getting frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Honor your emotions. Your sentimental attachment to your books is not something to feel ashamed of or sad about. Acknowledging your emotions as you sort through your books can be the first step in helping you move past that attachment and towards a more minimalist reading habit.
  • And above all, remember this: you did not acquire those books overnight, so you will not release your attachment to them quickly either. By spending a few minutes a week and by letting go of a few books at a time, you will find your feelings shifting towards the stories and the moment rather than the books themselves.


Robyn Devine blogs at She Makes Hats. I also enjoy following her on Twitter.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Peter says

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article and many of the responses to it.
    The time for new year’s resolutions is coming up, and every year I pick one thing to give up for that year. One time, I gave up buying new shoes, in other years I’ve been vegetarian, or have given up alcohol, and once I made the decision not to buy anything that was made in China. I manage to stick to these somewhat random “fasts” religiously, but the fact that they’re time-bound helps. This year, I’m thinking of reducing my books, and like other replies, I’m freaked out by the idea of it alone. I’m also very attached to them, as for as long as I remember I’ve been wanting to have a library and I’m finally close with a full wall of books. Like Jolo, I guess I’m more attached to the physical volumes than to the words and stories in them, and a purge might be healthy at this point. I’m going to think it over for week, but the advice you gave on how to do it sounds very helpful. For those of you living around Baltimore, MD, here’s another one: The Book Thing of Baltimore, whose mission it is to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them, and where you can drop off as many books as you like, or – for the still-book-addicts among you, pick up as many as you like FOR FREE!.

  2. Phil says

    Great article! I was interested that you didn’t mention the Kindle, as I found this one of the quickest ways to empty a bookcase. Most of the books I used to own were easily and cheaply available as ebooks, and it seemed easier to get rid of others just knowing I could buy a replacement in a matter of minutes (which I have only seldom done). Some people don’t get on with ebooks so well, but I found it put into contrast whether I liked the story/information in a book, or just liked the book on the shelf.

  3. says

    I’m preparing for a move, the first one in almost 16 years! I’m taking a long, hard look at each & every item before packing it, really determining it’s worth and place in my new home. I’m doing pretty well paring down..til I get to my precious bookshelves. It seems almost a sin to call books “clutter,” but in all honesty, they are! I’ve decided to donate all but one shelf full, the rest will be sold or donated. To avoid more tomes coming into my house, I’m making liberal use of the library. Paperbackswap is another great way to trade books with other readers; once I’m finished with a novel it goes right back up on the site for swapping.

    Thank you for a timely article!

  4. Vanessa says

    Just found your website, and so far I love it! The topic of book hoarding is close to my heart….with our family of 5, we have 6, 6-foot-tall shelving units that are overflowing with books! Plus, you’ll find stacks of books on nearly every flat surface of the house. Not to give the impression of a house that can’t be navigated, I do organize them LOL! But whenever I’ve gone through them and sent boxes off to the library book store, more seem to make their way in. Well, you’ve given me the inspiration to try, try again, and see if this time I can make them disappear for good! Thanks for what you’re doing, keep it up!

  5. Randy says

    I have donated over 1000 books and have less than 100 remaining. I had some treasured history books that were originally published in the 1800’s. I couldn’t bring myself to donate them to a faceless charity so I found a young history student at the local college and gave them to him. He was delighted and grateful. I felt great and don’t miss the books at all. I am converting to digital….never thought I would say that….and now, when I finish reading a book, I write down the name, the author, and the date in a notebook. The more I give away, the more I want to give away!

  6. Teddy says

    Oh man, I’ve been dreading the day you made this post. :) I’m a writer and I have a Literature degree so this one’s a tough topic for me. I consider myself to be pretty minimalist in every area except for this one. I guess I’ve never considered books to be “stuff” like everything else I own. You made some really great suggestions, though. I think organizing the overlapping ones is a great one for me! I too have tons of books about various religions, as well as tons of health and wellness-type books. Thankfully I’ve recently fallen in love with my local library so that’s kept my book-buying at bay! I’ll definitely go through these steps and see how I can minimize my collection!

  7. Natalie says

    I’ve collected quite a wealth of books since my university years. Books that I love. Every one of them read at least twice. I used to display them proudly in every room, shelves and shelves of books. Someone could pick out any random book and I would rattle off what it’s about, why and where I purchased it, how it made me feel. I used to love going into little underground bookstores, with that musty attic smell, search rows upon rows of books until I found some old gem to take home and love. One time I lost one of my precious books (this will be my “desert island” book), and I scoured most of the province to find another copy (I cried when I found another copy, and then several years later, I found the old copy as well.) Now I’m a working mom (translation: no time), and moved into a very small house. I guess you could say we’re working towards a minimalist lifestyle. I purged so much stuff before this move, including my expensive wardrobe. But in no way could I part with my beloved books. Hubby couldn’t understand it, and it drove him crazy to move a million tote bins of books. There is no room in my little home for my books, so they are living in a large shed in the backyard (very well protected, all of them in waterproof containers with lined bottoms). It breaks my heart that they are in there, with no one to enjoy them anymore. I found this article, and I think I can do it. I’m going to go into the shed tonight to pick one tote bin….

  8. Conny says

    Thank you for the article. We just moved into another town and I noticed how MANY books we have. I wanted to get rid of some before we moved but our used book store closed and I don’t want to put them in the garbage. My problem is, most of my books are in German. Anyone has any idea what to do with them?

  9. says

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and
    was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost
    a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure.

    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly
    appreciated. Kudos

  10. says

    Hi Joshua!
    I just stumbled onto your FB posts through a friend a few months ago. I liked some of the posts she shared and found that some of the quotes and messages spoke to me. I’m a huge book hoard. I know I have a problem but I absolutely love books. I know I need to get rid of a lot of them. I have the pile of books I just have to keep even though I’ve read them. I like to “own” my books as I always say. Then, I have all the books I still need to read that I know I will never get to in my lifetime.
    I have been following you and just purchased and read your book “Simplify”. I read some of your book to my husband and we are both on board to start going through everything and begin the journey to a simpler lifestyle. I have a question, in your book you mention that when your neighbor told you that their child was a minimalist and you began reading and researching minimalist lifestyles, what sources did you use. I heard on Minnesota Public Radio today a Joshua and a Ryan (didn’t get their last names) talking about minimalism and they were promoting a book called “Everything That Remains”. At first I thought it was you but then looked up the book and it’s a different Joshua. Just wondering if these two are your inspiration or friends. Anyway, thank you for sharing your story and what works for your family. I am so excited to see real changes iny home and life.
    Thanks, Sandy

    • joshua becker says

      Joshua and Ryan kindly list me as one of their inspirations in their book. The people I turned to include Leo Babauta, Dave Bruno, Colin Wright, and Tammy Strobel.

  11. says

    Oh, and would love to know the book that Natalie lost then found? Must have been a very good book! I’m always looking for good suggestions. Thanks

  12. Crystal Dawn says

    The only way I ever seem to be able to let a book go is when I can think of a specific person who would love the story as much as I do… I put it in my car trunk so I remember to give it to them. Feels much better to give them as gifts.

  13. Alice says

    Oh, please. 20 books? So not happening. I could buy a thousand more with what I’d spend on library fines. Trained in “slow reading.” Lol.

    Philosophy Major

  14. Ted Villalon says

    Great motivation is derived from this and other similar posts. I had 50 boxes of books in a store room, costing me some good money in rent to keep them. In three weeks, I have culled this collection down to 26 boxes, with lots of trips to a local second hand bookstore. I intend to be rid of the store room by the end of the month.

  15. Jeff says

    Great article. I was one of those people: your typical New Yorker whose idea of a good time was to spend hours in the Strand or one of our many other great bookstores and go home with a bag-full of books every time. My epiphany came when I decided to do an inventory of my library. I picked up one of my books and remembered when I had bought it: 20 years earlier. I was ashamed. If I hadn’t read it in 20 years, I wasn’t going to read it. I was also abashed when I realized how many duplicates I had. It was obvious that my collection was out of control. Also, with the advent of Google Books and Internet Archive, many “rare” items have been digitized and made accessible. Interlibrary loan services have also made most books easily available. There’s just no excuse anymore to have thousands of books in one’s house. Over the past year, I’ve culled my library of over half its size. It’s still hard to get rid of a book, but it feels great every time I do it.

  16. says

    Books were my last hurdle to completeing my minimalist journey so to speak. I wrote down all the titles and looked up the important ones on Kindle. The ABSOLUTELY have to have books I purchased digitally and are now safe and sound on my device and the cloud.

    The others, if I feel inclined to read them I will simply buy them as I need them digitally.

    Took me a month of humming and hawing and declaring blasphemy at the thought of getting rid of my books but eventually I made the leap.

    Donated them ALL to the local library. I have 0 dead tree books. Except for my high school year books which I am going to take to the local office max to get scanned and then those will be recycled.

  17. Nancy says

    Oh, this was one of the toughest things ever but I moved around so much for a few years that I had to eliminate most of my books. Luckily with my Kindle, I can still keep every book I want – but it takes up virtually no space. My next step was magazines! Oh, I used to fill up the trash bin and trip over them in the house. the NextIssue app is worth every penny because all the magazines I want to read are there – in my little virtual cloud or wherever they nest. No more piles and I can save every issue if I want to!

  18. Marilyn says

    Thank you so much for this post on how to cut down on my books. I have been thinking about how to do it for a long time, but each time I look at my books, I change my mind. My latest plan has been to take a photograph of each shelf so that all the titles are showing. Then, donate my books to the local library. Later, when I want to read something I owned, I can look at my photos to see the books I gave away. Then I can just go the library to pick one. I have yet to complete this task. Getting rid of my books seems harder than letting go of some of my very sentimental memorabilia. Thanks so much for you ideas. I am going to proceed!!! Wish me luck.

  19. Diane Allen says

    I have been donating my books to a local mental hospital. These people are unable to get to a library. It makes parting with them easier for me.

  20. Fiona Cee says

    the only books i will NOT get rid of are my childhood books. pretty much can toss the rest. mainly because i don’t buy books but read what i want to read via the local council library. for $2.20 i can reserve any new book [for example i read every book of Danielle Steel’s but do not own one bar the story of her son Nick.]

    so, books are not a problem, but lots of OTHER things ARE!

  21. says

    We had 6 tall bookcases of books that we loved and honoured on neatly organized shelves in our spare room/library. When we moved 4000 km across the country, we decided to take only what would fit in the back of our Matrix. We allowed one small box for books.

    #3 was helpful to us, as we gifted our friends books that reminded us of them.

    All my leadership and management books were gifted to my successor.

    An antique (never read) encyclopedia set (Historians History of the World) was gifted to some very dear friends who expressed an interest in the like new set.

    We also had a giant book and art sale to raise funds for our trip.

    One of the best tips we got was from a friend who said to keep seminal books. That is, the books that were catalysts for your extended study of a certain subject.

    My only regret is losing a copy of one of my seminal books, the depression era version of “The Joy of Cooking.” One book in 1000’s… I can easily live with that.

    Bless others with your books!

    Now, we have one small bookshelf that, like #4, and it is working well for us.

    Thanks for this blog post!

  22. Susan says

    We have really culled down our books. In fact, we live pretty simply in all areas of our lives, however, we maintain a nice library of books that we frequently use for reference for several reasons. So while, 20 might be a good goal for some, that number should be regarded as a guideline. We have made an effort to remove a book from our collection when we bring a new one in. This works for us.

  23. Jen says

    I used to think there was no way I could possibly do this. I LOVE BOOKS! My bookshelf was going to be the one place where minimalism was off-limits…

    But you know what? I can borrow from the library. I can buy books on the kindle if I really want to own them. Currently I only have my Harry Potter books and The Catcher in the Rye sitting on my shelf. Harry Potter I had trouble letting go of, despite being available on Kindle. And The Catcher in the Rye is not available on Kindle, and it’s one of my favourite books, so I kept it. I already donated some of my other favourite books (e.g. To Kill A Mockingbird) because I know I can easily access them again.

    Books are wonderful, but I always used to re-read the ones I already had. Nowadays I read new books more often than not, which I think is a good thing :)

  24. Susan says

    I have been purging books for years and I had called the local library to see if they wanted them and they told me “NO”…I could not believe it. So I was forced to load my car with boxes of books and went to the library anyway and deposited them into the ‘night depository’. Now I sell them at my garage sales, or donate to charity. Going to check out those ‘book exchange’ places next. I have never read any book twice.

  25. Allison says

    I recently did this, going through my books in part because they were so precious and impossible to live without (I thought) but they were spilling over every available space in my house.
    I started by using – one of the hardest thing for me was to think of my specialty books going to some thrift store where no one would appreciate them. Paperbackswap is a book swapping club so people specifically request books they want. Books sent away through that were going to some other bibliophile who would cherish them. I also gave away a lot of books to friends, as suggested above.
    Once I’d gotten through that phase I bit the bullet and gave the rest to a charity book sale that I frequent every year. Knowing that the sale tends to include a variety of interesting books made me feel like maybe someone who would love them would find the books. Dropping them off did feel a little like leaving my kids at the orphanage, but I wanted so much to break my attachment to all the *stuff* cluttering my house that I decided it had to be done.
    As a note, I used a bookshelf app on my phone to record the title, author, and ISBNs of everything I gave away. That made it easy to upload the list to paperbackswap and also left me with a record of all the books so I could have it to reference if I ever found I did indeed want to refer to a book in the future (another reason I kept so many books-one day I might want to reference that book).
    I should also say that I still have lots of books. I gave away about half my collection but kept everything I really loved, referenced regularly, or had a demonstrated habit of rereading periodically.
    And the result is that my house has gotten a lot cleaner – it wasn’t the books themselves which were the daily clutter of the house, but somehow clearing many of them out reduced the overall clutter in the place. The increased sense of calm and openness in the house now was worth the emotional work of letting go of the books. And to tell the truth I haven’t actually missed any of the specific books I gave away, haven’t regretted getting rid of any of them. Turns out I didn’t actually need them.

  26. Angela says

    I am just really starting a purge but i find now its much easier if any new books i read i buy on kindle and if i do get a book in paperback or hardback straight after reading instead of putting on my bookshelf, it goes straight out to be donated to charity for others to read. The only books I keep are my history reference books and writing reference books which are to do with my writing. They only take up a few shelves

  27. Bryan says

    Thank you for this wonderful article! Good style and the strategies seem sound. I look forward to trying some of these strategies. Thanks!

  28. Heidi says

    Books have always been my comfort. They are the only things I have ever collected, and almost all of them are from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. I started minimizing in my home (family of three) a year ago, going through a room at a time, or a closet at a time. I never considered us to really have a lot in our double-wide MFH, but we’ve had two huge garage sales, and about five car loads worth of donations. All of that, without ever touching my precious books.
    November, I finally started going through them, and sold three boxes worth on ebay, and still have four boxes left to sell. That was easier than I thought it would be, though I had to start in small doses. There are now 300 books left, not counting my son’s. These tips help me know I can go down further, but honestly, I can’t fathom only having twenty books. I would just cry.
    I am an aspiring writer, and my husband is almost through his degree to teach history, so I’m sure once he has a classroom, many of the books will be transferred there, but my desert island needs a small bookcase, not a shelf. Thank you for the suggestions to help me reach that goal!

  29. says

    I think this method could apply well to many sentimental objects. It always help to break up the task and not be too hard on yourself in the process! Great read!

  30. Chrys says

    This will be the hardest step towards minimalist living for me. It will have to be a very slow process, I think, so I don’t go re-filling the shelves once they are bare.

  31. Ralf says

    If it works for you – fine. I’m the opposite. Books are about the content.
    If the content appeals to me the book stays. If not it goes. Unfortunately I had some books let go many years ago that would appeal right now. And those books you can’t find online or in the library.
    Luckily I’m busy right now.

    Decluttering isn’t just throwing things away to make space.
    Decluttering is like sculpting – take away the pieces you don’t need to uncover the beauty within.
    Not just throwing your shoes to the landfill, but getting shoes that make walking, running and standing comfortable. With as few shoes as possible.
    And it all starts with Decluttering the mind.

  32. Ralf says

    I’m starting with files of bills and bank records. Then will the magazines have to go. And my maps. Then the modern books and paperbacks you could get as kindle.

    There is a “book club” where you register your book and then set it free into the wild – the shelf at the doctor, the supermarket, the hotel lounge, airport lounge, etc. and you get notified where it went from there.

    I usually leave magazines in the back seat of the bus, or on the train.
    Some paperbacks, too.

  33. nick says

    The first books to go: self help books, management, mba, and windows. Those 2000 page textbooks you can’t take to the coffee shop.
    I’ll scan the table of contents. And then search the Internet for whatever I need to know.

  34. Wendy says

    Thanks to the Kindle app I have been able to part with most of my books. I slept with books. I would say though that I DID frequently re-read most of my collection constantly!

  35. bill b says

    Great article. As a relatively “new to retirement,” college art teacher. You can imagine the size of my collection of books. I tried “book crossing,” a great site for repurposing books. But most on my books are not often sought after by others in our community. So I found a Zen center in New Mexico to send my Buddhist philosophy and practice books and a small Art institute to take my Art Books. I kept about 20 of the ones that I read over and over. Actually I mosty look at the pictures over and over, being an artist. It was a long and difficult task, but this article would be a great help to someone starting the process. Now comes the prospect of relocating some of the mass of paintings that are “children” that only their parent could love. Looking for a place that they will be loved, not judged, just loved. Or maybe a place they can hide, where they can quietly wait for future adoption. Do we all have things like that? Probably if we are “Makers” we do. But the problem of “attachment” is something we all face, one way or the other.

  36. says

    Mr. Salinger, whose job has actually shown up in The New Yorker as well as
    in other places, informs a story well, in this case under the special troubles of casting it
    in the form of Holden’s first- individual story.
    She is the solitary individual that provides and simply
    in time– the love that Holden requires.

  37. Mariam says

    I find your tips and hints very helpfull. As Im newbie in the world of minimalism, my struggle is great with books. I am a literature graduate and a book worm so you can imagine the piles of books my rooms has . I will be using some of your hacks getting rid of some books also you got me when you mentioned the sentimental attachement to certain books and novels . Thank you for making it easier.

  38. says

    I have so far reduced my collection of 400+ books down to about 50… I think I can get it down just a tad more with this advice! When I began trying to cut down the initial 400 I did not take the regular breaks as suggested here and ended up breaking down in tears after two hours, I was so distraught at sloughing off so many treasured stories and pieces of knowledge! But each time I return to the task it gets easier.

    I think for me the biggest criteria for making it to the desert island shelf is “how does this book make me feel?” Rather than keeping the rare ones, the ones that greatly influenced me, the ones that I strongly feel are part of my identity… I think in the end the best ones to keep close to you are the ones that make you feel warm inside. I love the many cerebral and thrilling items on my shelves, but if I want to read them again I can go to a library. The ones that I really need by my side at a moment’s notice are the handful that can lift my spirit within minutes of opening them.

  39. says

    Been working very slowly on this one, giving up one book a week, weeding out the ones I have no attachment to. However, last weekend, I sold 7 books on our local buy/sell/trade site and really, unless I look at the pictures of what I sold, I can’t remember the titles. Some of us need to go slower than others de-cluttering. It’s okay, as long as we continue moving forward.

    • Kellen says

      I agree, it has been so very difficult for me to part with books. But I’ve been moving forward. I like the idea of one or a few books at a time being let go. It starts to acclimate us very slowly to having fewer without the “shock” of it occurring all at once, which I would find traumatic.

  40. Kellen says

    My local library is tied into the Links+ borrowing system, meaning patrons have access to books at libraries up and down the West Coast, including university libraries. For anybody who enjoys reading academic or little known books, this is nothing short of amazing. There is probably not a single book I would ever want to read that can’t be located and borrowed, even if my own local library system doesn’t have it.

    For some reason, knowing I have this kind of access to rare or OOP or academic books that would otherwise cost a fortune or simply not be available for purchase has made it easier for me to let go of many of my books and begin the culling process. I’ve been taking full advantage of Links and have borrowed probably a dozen books in the past couple of months coming from all over California and the West Coast. Between my library/Links+ and my Kindle, I’m definitely feeling more comfortable about letting go of books, but yes hanging onto books has been one of the most difficult aspects of embracing a minimalist life. Part of it for me is letting go of all of the actual physical shelving that books require. I’m interested in a completely different look in my rooms containing large and dark bookshelves.

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