The Skinny – Amy Brunell

all-of-my-booksDe-Cluttering Continues…Part 2 – Books

Okay, first step according to Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is to remove all the books from around the house and put them on the floor. It’s taken me about an hour to find and put all my books on the floor. I didn’t do all the books in my house, only my books and those of my mother’s. I left my spouse’s books as Marie Kondo is very clear about other people’s stuff and their choice to keep or discard in their own time frame.

Also, I had been discarding books in the early summer before I started the KonMarie method, so many, many trips had been taken to the library and other places to donate. It started with moving my in-laws twice in the last couple of months and discarding their books. I kept very little of theirs because I knew I had to face my own piles if I’m ever going to have a new life.

I don’t feel as overwhelmed by the books as I did the clothes. I have to say that the clothes portion was way more, well, everything;  messy, labor intensive, heavy, dusty, everything. These books are also messy, labor intensive, heavy and dusty, but somehow living through the clothes de-cluttering, I feel hopeful even that I can do this; that weeding out the books is possible.

Three months ago when I started weeding the books on my own, I researched on the internet, because I had always been told that my mother’s first editions were worth something. That was false. Every book was $3.75 with the exception of one book that was perhaps worth $35. With the internet, the inherent worth or value of items has actually decreased because things are not so rare as they once were. You can find anything.  And it turns out that generations younger than me don’t want all this stuff that has been accumulated. It’s almost like they recognize the “weight” that’s been handed down generation after generation, not of things that bring joy, but of things that bear with them the weight of obligation.

I’m ready to be free. That’s what this is all about.

I ended up with 27 bags of books to donate. And I can see that I still have “enough” books. I have novels on my shelf that I want to read, work-related and spiritual resources, hobbies, cookbooks, and poetry. It felt great to categorize my books and put them together by topic. No, I didn’t alphabetize. Much. I did try and put all the books of one author together.

I still might have too many books, but just like the clothes, I’m okay that all of this is a process. I have made great strides and can continue to narrow down as I work this process. It is an odd sensation to get rid of 27 bags and look at your shelves, realizing that now all of your books are in one room, and there are still empty shelves! And I still thought, viewing my work, “There’s probably more to still get rid of?” However it’s wonderful to look at those shelves, and see books that actually bring me joy. It’s like my own bookstore made just for me!

It feels GREAT to let go of what my mom thought was important. Those books have been sitting like dead weight to me for many many years. In her generation, before the internet, they were important. I’m not trying to devalue her joy. I just don’t need to continue my life with all her stuff, and that’s a big reason I’m doing this KonMarie Method. Finally I can let it all go.

Where did I get stuck this time?

There were books I thought I should read. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for example. This voluminous tome would take me days – maybe weeks – to read and absorb. And the fact is I don’t want to read it. I want to read other books. The truth is I can give you hundreds of books titles I should read, but probably never will; classics I’ve never looked at.

The fact is that over 3000 titles are published a day. Therefore in our lifetime, we cannot possibly read all the books. We must choose how we spend our time. Knowing that helped me prioritize what I want to read versus what I thought I should read.

I kept books that I wasn’t sure about for my work. There were several books I never refer to, so those were easy to let go of. But there were a few books that I have used, might use, and those I got stuck about. If I didn’t need them for work, I would let go of them now, because I don’t feel a connection to them. But for a work reference, I might.

I had already weeded down the poetry section, so one more book left my shelf, but I wasn’t able to really hold each book again by that point and let go of more very effectively.

I’m stuck about my parents thesis’. I have both of theirs and there is something historically important to my family about these documents. But I realize maybe only to me. I’ve never read either one and so the thought of reading even one sort of interests me. But only sort of. And yet, I can’t quite get rid of their work. They do not bring me joy, in fact my father’s brings me pain, and yet, yet…

I really had to talk myself through getting this done in one shot. I really wanted to stop many times. It was boring and I didn’t want to continue. I kept having to coach myself through the process. When I finally saw the finish line in sight, I was so glad I had kept going. It’s only through age, wisdom and keeping my goal clearly in front of me, that I can coach myself through it.

What is my goal? That I don’t want to be “strangle-held” by the stuff in my life any longer. I no longer want to feel the spiritual, emotional and physical weight all this stuff has brought to me. I want to move forward in my life. I want to eventually feel the sensation of an honest breath of space.

The Actors' Gang


  1. GREAT article, Amy! Inspiring! I went through my spices yesterday. WTF!!
    I must have been a hell of a cook in my day!!! Threw away at least half of the OLD ones and am reconsidering what I do have left. Salt, pepper and garlic powder seem to do it for me these days! Lol!! It is an incredibly freeing experience.

  2. Terrific Amy. I thought I had gone through most of my books when I packed to move but I just found two more boxes. So now I have to go through them because I only want to keep enough for one bookcase. The wonderful thing is that I actually was able to pick up a book to read again. I knew where it was, and it was a joy to be able to find it

  3. 8/29/016

    Congratulations-I am going through my books again and am loading CDs onto the computer (eventually onto the Ipod) and this will free up even more space. Am scanning as many documents as possible and only keeping important things like recent taxes and photos. It is really liberating—and I don’t feel as hungry!

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