Why is it so hard to declutter books?

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If you’ve read my previous post, I’ve explored how to declutter your books, however, in that post I never fully explored why is it so darn hard to declutter books.

In this post, I wanted to explore why we (or myself in particular) struggle to declutter books and perhaps with identifying the “why’s” I could be better at executing the decluttering bit in future times. Hopefully.

Why is it so hard to declutter books?

And what to say to the excuses.

Sentimental value:

It’s normal to have books that hold sentimental value. Perhaps there’s an emotional attachment to the book due to someone gifting you that copy, reading it at a critical time in life, the content of the book… There are many reasons as to why a possession holds sentimental value. When faced with holding a book that possesses sentimental value, identify your “why” first. Why does this book hold sentimental value? Why do you want to own it? Once identifying that, ask yourself: does owning this book make me happy? Has this book serve its purpose (whether that purpose is, up to you)?

Decluttering possessions that hold sentimental value is the hardest as we most often have an emotional connection to it (either memories, evoking feelings, etc.). In saying that, it is okay to hold on or to pass on something that has sentimental value to you. Only you can make that choice.

The “but what if?” scenario:

But what if I need to refer to this book later? But what if I’ll read this and love it and want to keep it?

First, take a step back and be realistic with yourself, your goals, and your time. In this golden digital time of the internet, we have endless access to information and resources. Most often, we are able to access books more than once. Furthermore, our time is limited. Remember, plenty books are easily replaceable either via buying another copy (digital, hardcopy) or through a library (if you have access). And most often than not, you can replace the book if you ever do need to refer to it later. Your time and your space is limited.

Books are part of my identity!:

As a book lover, I know I love books and being surrounded by books. It’s so comforting to be surrounded by your favourite things. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. However, when it becomes overwhelming to the point it feels like clutter the feelings of warmth and happiness can start to blur. As a book lover, I want to be surrounded by books. However, it is important to remember this:

You are not defined by material items.

Whilst loving books is perfectly fine, owning many possessions doesn’t necessarily reflect the value or love you hold for something. If it is weighing you down, perhaps curate the space for your absolute favourites and thereby creating the extra specialness of the collection.

Exclusive editions:

I currently subscribe to a few book boxes where limited special exclusive editions are released. These editions are gorgeous and special (signed, author letter, exclusive art, etc.) and for me, it adds to the experience of the book. Over time, it’s easy to continuously hold on to these editions as they are exclusive and special, however, over time it can get overwhelming. Despite me not reading the book or even loving it, it’s harder for me to let go of these books as they are exclusive editions. What then? In this stance it’s important to know your priorities and your ‘whys’:

  • Why do you want to own exclusive editions?
  • Why do you want to own exclusive editions despite not loving the book itself?
  • Does owning this particular (although special/exclusive) edition bring you joy?
  • Can you use this space for something else you would love more?

I admit I really struggle with decluttering. I’m from the background where things were limited so that’s where my mindset on saving and holding on to things stem from. Consequently, it’s difficult for me to let go of things. Here, identifying and exploring the why’s may will help with navigating reasons as to when to hold on to something or when to let go of it. For me, this post is quite helpful as it reminds me that I want to curate my collection, space and time with my absolute favourite books.

Do you find it hard to declutter your books?

How do you declutter your books?

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My Book Decluttering Journey (so far)

Back in February I counted all the hardback books I owned and discovered it was a total of 130-ish books. It may not look like a large sum of books for many, but before I started book blogging, I hardly owned any books (at most, like, 3 books) as I grew up being a library user and could never justify owning books as I moved a lot when I lived alone. However, everything changed upon joining Bookstagram. I fell down the rabbit hole of thinking I needed to own hardcover books of everything. Because, how else could I post books on Bookstagram, a visual platform of social media? (This is another topic for later…) So to me, owning 3 books to 130-ish books is a lot. Not only am I running out of shelf-space, I’m also drowning in my TBR. Please help

After a year, I’ve accumulated over 100 books. Whilst I love owning books, I feel like it weighs me down in terms of space and clutter. I want to curate my space with books I love and would enjoy re-reading and sharing. If you haven’t already seen it, I’ve written a post on How to Declutter Books (it’s mainly a post calling out myself lol). Anyway, this post is to see my progress on how I am with decluttering my books. This post is to keep myself accountable and also, I love making figures and tables.

Now, without further ado… let’s see how much damage I’ve done!

Number of Hardback Books I own in 2021

MonthBooks owned start of monthBooks I boughtBooks I declutteredTotal books at end of month
January136+ 2– 5133
February133+ 5– 4134
March134+ 5– 4135
April135+ 6– 2143
May143+ 40147
June147+ 30150
July150+ 9– 5154
August154+ 5* (pending)pending lol159*
Table 1. The total number of books I owned, bought, and decluttered each month of 2021.

Books owned at start of the year, January: 136.

Books owned at time of post (August): 159.

In January I did so well, decluttering 5 books and only purchasing 2! And then you see my rapid decline in decluttering books from May onwards. Obviously, I’m not doing that well because in the span of 8 months I have gained +23 books.

23 books!

But hey! I’m supporting authors, so yay! At least, that’s what I’m telling myself right now…

Although, in my defence, a major excuse factor that stops me from decluttering is the fact that I haven’t had time due to my city in lockdown for the past 2 months (woohoo, Sydney) and me being a HCW trying to confine my movement . And for August I’ve put aside a bunch of books I plan to declutter, which is about 8-9 books.

I don’t have a specific number of books I want to own, but I do want to be picky with what I own. Anyway, I’m glad to see my progress on this constant journey. Progress, not perfection!

PS. I didn’t count my books at the start of the year and had to do some MaTheMatiCS to figure this all out. So I’m very happy I managed to figure out the exact numbers! Hahaha… help. You wouldn’t believe that I was that kid who used to do advanced mathematics (secondary level) in primary school lmaooooo where are my braincells now???

Do you declutter your books?

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