The term “minimalist bookworm” sounds contradictory, I know. Book lovers these days seem to be defined by the content of their bookcases- the more books we see, the more well-read we assume a person is. I struggle with this, because as much as I dream about having a library of my own someday, I personally feel overwhelmed by too much stuff, so having a huge collection of novels isn’t exactly my ideal. I think that’s why I was initially drawn to a more minimalist lifestyle (also because I adore tiny houses!). The Minimalism Movement has been on trend for a few years now, and I’ve been striving to be more minimalist, so I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned on my way.
DO keep books you’ll reread.
It’s only natural that you’ll want to revisit some of the books you’ve already read, and it’s hard to justify getting rid of something you’ll eventually come back to. Keep your favorite books, the ones that interest you, the ones you’ll want to return to someday.
DON’T hang on to books you’ve owned for years but still haven’t read.
If you’ve owned A GAME OF THRONES since the first season premiered but you still haven’t gotten around to it, I think it’s safe to say you won’t be reading it any time soon! We all read at different paces, but consider setting an amount of time, anywhere from eight months to five years, after which you will get rid of books you haven’t read yet.
DO save books that have meaning to you.
Still own that battered copy of CHARLOTTE’S WEB that your mom used to read to you as a child? Did you purchase a book as a souvenir of your trip abroad? These are the ones you might want to save, and that’s okay. I actually regret donating some of my favorite childhood books, so hang on to sentimental books unless you’re positive you no longer want them.
DON’T own more than one edition of the same book
Of course, there are some exceptions to this one; for example, I own a paperback copy of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, and I also own the illustrated edition. I can’t imagine getting rid of one or the other. However, I think having ten editions of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE might be a bit extensive (#sorrynotsorry). You just have to determine what’s right for you.
DO utilize the library.
One of my favorite things about the library is there’s no pressure to like every book you read. Often, when I buy a book, I feel the need to enjoy it because I’ve spent my hard-earned money on it, but at the library, I’ll pick up just about anything, and if I don’t like I’ll return it, no guilt necessary. The library is a great resource for quick readers especially, and (bonus!) it’s free, so you really can’t go wrong!
DON’T purchase books just because they’re popular or trendy.
It’s okay, we’ve all done it, but buying a book, especially one you don’t think you’ll like, just because it’s all over Instagram, is probably not the best idea. Eventually the popularity will fade and you’ll be stuck with a book you don’t actually want to read! And if you’re not sure whether or not you want to read it, try waiting a few months after the hype has died down and see how you feel about it then.
DO try ebooks and/or audiobooks.
Ebooks and audiobooks are great for saving physical shelf space, and (bonus!) they’re often cheaper than paperbacks or hardcovers. However, if you don’t like reading in either format, don’t force it: reading should be an enjoyable experience, not a frustrating one.
DON’T buy books without reading an excerpt.
For me, the writing style is one of the most important qualities of a book; if I don’t like the writing, chances are I won’t enjoy the story or the characters. That’s why I always like to read an excerpt or chapter sample of a novel before I purchase it.
DO try a book-buying ban.
Set yourself a period of time in which you refrain from buying any books, and see how it goes. Not only are bans great for stopping the intake of new books, but they also allow you to get around to the books you own but haven’t read yet. It’s a win-win!
DON’T let yourself feel stressed or discouraged.
You might notice it’s difficult to strip your shelves at first, and that’s okay! It’s not for everybody, but don’t let your feelings keep you from making the change. It’s definitely easiest to do a little bit each day rather than all at once. Personally, I’ve found that making the strides to be a minimalist bookworm has been challenging but absolutely worth it!
If you’re interested in reading more on minimalism and books, I’d recommend checking out Why I Love to (and Will Always) Buy Books by Cait Flanders, who went through a two-year shopping ban while paying off debt, or 12 Helpful, Practical Steps to Unclutter Your Book Collection by Joshua Becker, a longtime minimalist of ten years (and counting).