When I first started minimalism, I felt obligated to live by all of these unspoken rules I thought existed. Rules that said I needed to have a tiny home or live out of a backpack in order to be called a minimalist. There was no denying the freedom I was finding through decluttering my things and practicing a more minimalist lifestyle, however, there was a lot of added anxiety when I felt like I wasn’t decluttering fast enough. One of the biggest places this becomes a problem for people is with their books. I mean, after all, books are a good thing right? So, how many books should a minimalist own? Let’s take a moment to unpack this, and hopefully put your mind at ease.
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Do books fit into your idea of minimalism?
First of all, I think something all aspiring minimalists should do is ask themselves what a minimalist lifestyle looks like for them?
If you love the idea of decluttering and simplifying your life in order to create more time to kick back and relax with a good book, then I think it’s safe to say having books should be a part of your minimalist lifestyle plan.
Besides, just because you love books doesn’t mean they have to take over your entire house! There are so many different ways to display and organize your books so they fit perfectly into your lifestyle!
However, if you have a massive book collection that you haven’t touched in years, but can’t bare to part with, it might be time to dive deeper into where your struggle is really coming from.
Books and the sunken cost fallacy
Something we all do when it comes to clutter, book or otherwise, is begin to give more importance to the things that we currently own.
What I mean is, you might be glancing up at a huge bookshelf filled with unread books, but the idea of donating them sends pangs right to your gut because of how much money was spent on them. You can’t help but feel a little guilty that money was wasted on unread books.
First of all, becoming aware of the sunken cost fallacy playing out in any area of your life is really important. Basically this is our brains way of tricking us into spending more time or money on something that really isn’t enhancing our life in any way.
Next, it might help to shift how your mind looks at quote unquote “wasted money.” If you have books that have gone unread and you feel guilty parting with them because of their financial worth, maybe begin to see it as more of a charitable donation. You could gift these books to friends who will truly use them. This way your books are no longer going unread and your money has been put to good use.
Less stuff more experiences (are books an experience?)
One of the common mantras we’ve all heard when applied to minimalism is, “less stuff, more experiences.” I think it’s important to remember that just because books can be classified as clutter doesn’t mean they aren’t also an experience.
A good self help book can help you heal wounds, set goals and remind you that you’re not the only one struggling.
When it comes to fiction, spending hours lost in the plot line of someone else’s fictional life can send your emotions and imagination reeling.
Reading books is truly an amazing experience, and that is definitely worth spending money on if it’s enhancing your life.
Do books align with your priorities?
I recently shared on a TikTok why I actively work to buy books brand new.
My hope is to one day be an author and I can only imagine the thrilling excitement of seeing how many copies of your book sold in the first week, month, year, decade. These kinds of numbers don’t come from used books stores or donation centers, they come from the people who buy books fresh off the shelves (in person or virtual).
As someone who grew up hearing that writers can’t make money, I love proving all those naysayers wrong, every time I drop another $50 well spent at Barnes and Nobel.
Another one of my favorite ways to still buy brand new books while avoiding the clutter pile up in my home is to instantly share them with friends who I think might enjoy them.
If there is a book I know I will want to read again, I keep it in my collection. If it’s one I’m ready to part with, I bring it to get togethers with my friends in case one of them wants to read it. I don’t worry about whether or not they’ll get it back to me. I just love being able to pass along a great story, plot line or charecter to someone else.
Books without the clutter
Of course, let’s not shy away from the fact that we live in the digital age where you can get your hands on all kinds of books without bringing a single piece of additional clutter into your home.
If you are someone is always on the go and still wants to be able to take advantage of books, there are apps like Audible that allow you to download as many audiobooks as you’d like with nothing more than your phone!
If the clutter of books is causing you to cringe, don’t forget about the array of options available to you that don’t even require you to pick up an actual book at all!
Minimalism has no rules
Isn’t it so bonkers that most of us so badly wanted to shun the “herd-like” mentality of materialism so we joined minimalism? Yet, in our pursuit of standing against the system and fighting the ads that told us what to buy and who to be, we just created a whole new set of rules and standards to live up to?!
Remember, minimalism is about getting back to basics so you can get back to yourself. Minimalism is deconstructing a false materialistic life in order to build a richer, fuller life in its place. If your fuller, richer life includes an array of reading materials, then don’t let some made up minimalist rules stop you!