Friday, September 10, 2010

On Books

I love books! I'm always reading one but more often two. I like to switch back and forth, picking the book I'm most in the mood for that day.

Ian has about a billion books and before he moved in, I promised he could use the floor to ceiling (and wall to wall) bookshelf in the room that would be his office. But where would my books go?

About this time I read a great article about breaking the sentimental attachment to books. I stared at my piles of books and no longer saw my trusty friends of old. In their place I saw battered paperbacks that I bought because they were only a dollar. I saw multiple copies of the same books, because, you know, one was just not enough. I mostly saw books I bought because I was going to read them someday.

I looked at those books and felt sad. I'd deceived myself, lost sight of what was truly important. All my friends, all the adventures...they are not books, they are not pages. I thought I loved books but that love was misplaced. What I actually love is reading.

As obvious as that is, you'll think I'm an even bigger idiot after I tell you I own a Kindle.

reading Jane Eyre

For almost a year, I've been happily reading books on my Kindle. No paper, no pages, just words and stories and emotions and adventures. I take it everywhere. I carry all my books at all times. Without realizing it, I'd stumbled on the nearly perfect minimalist approach to reading (and collecting) books.

Letting go of the physical pages wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Here are the books I thought I couldn't live without:

books I couldn't live without

And these are the ones I'm keeping for now:

books I'm keeping for now

Quite a difference! And this stack might get smaller if certain books become available for the Kindle. For instance, I'm rather particular about translations and the Oxford Classics version of The Three Musketeers is my favorite. Don't be fooled, the Kindle version is NOT the same translation.

I wrote down the titles of all the books I was "going to read someday" and then gave them away. I feel lighter and a little sad, but that's alright. In just 60 seconds I can be with my old friends again. And that's what's truly important.


  1. Oh my goodness! All that Sherlock Holmes ... and Peter Pan ... and Wuthering Heights and and and ... I can't believe you got rid of so many books. I culled down to 18 gallons (one huge Rubbermaid tub) and felt sad and lonesome and deprived. Although it was much easier than I thought it'd be.
    On the other hand, I only have one little stack of fabric and I bet you have tons. (But you haven't made a fabric cover for the cover for your Kindle?! Ooh, maybe you could screenprint it ... no, no.)

    Ian's minimalism doesn't extend to books? Or is his less of a pursuit and more natural bent?

  2. I have Sherlock Holmes on the Kindle! Sweet, sweet Watson any time I want him!

    Yes, I do have tons of fabric but that's next on the chopping block. I need to give some away and use some'll be more fun than giving away my beloved books, though.

    Like making a fabric cover for my Kindle cover. Screenprinted, naturally. How fun!

    Ian is definitely a natural minimalist...except for cd's and books he has no other collections and few posessions or clothes. He has a weird attachment to liner notes and cd packaging. He also likes to write notes in his books and doesn't want to lose all that information by giving them away. So, to each his own, I suppose. I'm going to take a picture to show you...his collections are truly impressive!

  3. I embarrassed myself yesterday by realizing that my Holmes books are given away too :) hah!
    Ian writes notes in his books?! How interesting! Notes on the reading, or what he's thinking, like a diary (but more masculine), or ...

  4. Giving away books?!!! Ouch! Now that would seriously hurt! Two things I have that I find the hardest to slimline are my textile materials and books. I gave away two thirds of my books the last time I moved so the last third are die hard favourites. But most of them are fiction I like to reread so yes, it is the story rather than the paper so getting a kindle may be the answer..... I like to be materialistic in my minimalism! :)))

  5. Elaine! I too am materialistic in my minimalism! I'm all "but I need a super expensive pretty bike because I want to bike to buy groceries!" when really, a cheap mountain bike would have been much less materialistic. But it's quality, not quantity, right?

  6. :)) I think thats one of the key things - quality. I used to collect beautiful boxes, initially to hold jewellery but most of them are stored in my parents loft since I moved away and I don't miss them. I appreciate their beautiful aesthetic value but I don't have to own lots of them for that - maybe just one or two. I'm sure the jewellery needs destashing too! You have given me the incentive to have a good clear out next time I am up there - they are nagging at the back of my mind!