The question I get asked more than any other about our minimalist journey has to do with books. As an editor who reads and writes for a living our home had welcomed a bounty of books, to the point that I had amassed a collection of a couple thousand volumes, at least a third of which I got as gifts from authors, publicists, and other professional colleagues.
So when I mention that I got rid of all but a few, even folks who are not necessarily “book people” are incredulous, with many suggesting that they could never part with their own prized volumes. And I then share that our adoption of the mantra “minimize to mobilize” is what gave us the framework with which to whittle our collection.
As my wife and I started to dream of a more mobile lifestyle, it dawned on me that I had not read at least half of my books, and I likely wouldn’t re-read the half I had read. So I edited my library accordingly in order to live more lightly, even including several signed first editions in the downsizing. And it helped that I created digital files of notes from my favorite titles to remind me of valuable information I had read.
A helpful acronym here is BOOK, or Box Of Organized Knowledge, and with the advent of the Amazon Kindle we started buying e-books to aid in our transition to a more mobile lifestyle. With that said, I must admit that we have only downloaded a couple dozen titles from Amazon, and I typically read them using the Kindle app on one of our Apple i-devices.
Within about a year I got rid of all but my favorite hundred or so volumes, giving the others intentionally to friends and family and donating the remainder to our local library. As of today, my library stands at a grand total of about thirty titles, all of which I have read, if not re-read. As Sir Francis Bacon said: “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
The point I am trying to make with this post is that books are containers of content and while some volumes naturally lend themselves to collection most can be read for their insights and then shared with others. It is the material they possess that adds value to our lives, not necessarily their physical property. Here is my advice: read them, reap the rewards, and then recycle them.