It strikes me as odd that one of the first edicts handed down by the pop-minimalist scolds is The Culling of the Books.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re hanging on to a houseful of junky or unread books and paper ephemera, then cull away, you’ll probably be glad you did – but – considering the amount of unworn clothing, abandoned craft projects, ancient canned goods, and broken everything in peoples living spaces, it just seems like there are better places to start de-cluttering and un-owning, and that perhaps once the rest of the mess is resolved the books are a collection worth keeping.
I love the atmosphere lent by books – my decorator self enjoys the homey and collected feel of having them around, and some are just plain beautiful. They frequently serve as decorative items all on their own, and as pedestals and risers for elements of other collections. They can be arranged in multiple ways, from orderly to artful, and collections of books can instruct the formality of a room every bit as much as its furnishings might. Piles of paperbacks aren’t my thing*, but pretty and thoughtfully organized stacks and rows of books are a favorite device of mine to add a useful layer of interest to many rooms.
We are readers at my house, and own a decent assortment of books. After some years of home schooling there are the inevitable several shelves full of children’s, young adult and classic literature, along with a good number of non-fiction titles that inform whatever interest is piqued at a given moment. Having a well curated home library is important to me, and we use it. That said, I cringe a bit at how many of the books in my possession have not been read in a long while, or started and never finished. These I plan to revisit – I enjoy re-reading books, especially classics, because they seem different to me as I gain new perspectives on life (if you read Wuthering Heights as a teenager, and then read it again as a grown person, you’ll know what I mean). Some have not been opened AT ALL, and are beckoning from their dusty perches to be included in the mix. That was never the plan, of course, because I like for things to be put to their highest, best use, and presumably the primary purpose of a book is to be read (though we could explore a certain duality, in that a books primary purpose is to be written? Another time….).
When I set about creating my 19 for 2019 list of happenings, goals and intentions, I included the reading of fifty books (most of which I’ve named, but leaving some blank spots for suggestions and new releases). I made a page for my reading list, here, and while I don’t know that I’ll review each book, I will endeavor to make notes, and a recommendation (or not) – and maybe that will become an organic marker for whether or not that particular book continues to reside in our home.
How does your book garden grow? If you have any suggested reading, I’d love to know!
With love and optimism,
*P.S. – I am not mad at paperback books, I just am not as fond of having them on display as I am hardcovers. Having pretty baskets for them on lower bookshelves is a great idea, as is having a basket or two of them in a guest room.
P.P.S. – I have finally started using the Kindle app, and I really like it – for some of my book club selections, which are often good stories but not necessarily books I would keep, this might be an answer to accumulating less while still getting my reading in.