Books Spark My Joy

By now, most of us bibliophiles are well aware of Marie Kondo’s admonition that we ought to declutter our homes by purging them of excessive “stuff,” books included. Her notion is that you should pick up each item in your home, hold it to your breast, and if it doesn’t “spark joy,” then you should toss it.

But as my wife Robin (who would be thrilled if I jettisoned some of my possessions) loves to note, the problem with this is that virtually everything in our home sparks joy in me, so the Marie Kondo method is pretty much useless around here.

And this is especially true of my books.

I first started collecting books as a child, when my generally frugal parents announced that they’d buy all the books for me that I wanted, as long as I read them. So began my collection of horse books. Then science fiction, then mysteries.

The collection quickly grew once I started college as an English literature major, and even more so between college and law school when I worked at a used bookstore where employees were given a fifty percent discount on all the inventory.

Over the years I have jettisoned some of my books. But not many. Most of my casebooks from law school are now gone, as are a few books from college I know I’ll never want to read again. But even when I discover on my bookshelves an old, completely out-of-date textbook covered in mold, I find it excruciatingly difficult to let it go.

So why is this?

It’s because books bring me enormous comfort and solace. I love the feeling of being surrounded by bookshelves. I love staring at the titles, remembering where I was when I discovered a particular volume and the feelings I experienced as I first read through it.

I love knowing that I can always pick up my old copy of The Fellowship of the Ring and be transported back to age six when my father first read the trilogy to us kids. Or flip through the pages of Gaudy Night and relive my year in Oxford as a teenager when I had a mad crush on Lord Peter Wimsey.

I adore the feel of the paper on my fingers, the elaborate designs of the dust covers, the smell of new ink or old dust when you open up a book.

Books are a constant, always there for me: their stories of love, murder, and human angst; their tables of verb conjugations; their explanations of musical harmony and geologic formations; their recipes for sauce normande and chicken cacciatore.

Books are my forever friends.

Oh yeah, and I have quite a few LPs, as well…

Readers: Do you have a lot of books? Is it hard for you to get rid of them?

56 thoughts on “Books Spark My Joy

  1. Hardest thing I ever did was giving my library away in our recent downsizing. I had carried the books and grown it, like you, since I was a child. I kept a giant bookshelve of TBR and a few very special books (plus all the LPs), but after doing due diligence found a wonderful home for my library where an entire county will have access to it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I have started passing books along to friends and my local library. It gives me pleasure knowing that others will be able to enjoy the books I’ve enjoyed. Now I only keep the ones I would gladly read again.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I thank technology for inventing the e-reader because now I can have lots of books with no worries of getting rid of them. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of space for a multitude of bookcases, so when my bookshelves are overflowing, I have to remove books – luckily friends and library take them.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I hear you! I love my bookshelves that are stuffed to the gills. One of my major regrets in life was when I got rid of 90% of my record collection during a move I’m 1995. Ah well, I still have my books!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, most of my friends got rid of the record albums back in the ’80s when CDs became the norm. But now, lo and behold, LPs are becoming popular again! Just like bell-bottoms: if you keep something long enough, it will come back in style. (Okay, so maybe bell-bottoms will never come back in style–I certainly hope not.)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I found comfort in purging some of my books by donating them to my local library for their use or to put in their book sale. At least by doing this I am able to share with others the ability to read some wonderful books.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Dear Leslie –

    What a wonderful topic and thanks so much for sharing pictures of your bookcases. Oh, you’ve brought back so many memories so pardon me for detailing below.

    That Bartlett’s Book of Quotations was a gift, along with an equally sized dictionary, that I received when graduating from high school in 1977 :); thanks for bringing back that memory as we used it for years.

    Back when we were in the military and they’d pay to move our stuff around, we had 52 book boxes of books between my husband and me! But, when we went on an Alaskan cruise, I took 18 paperback books, which I read in the first five days. Then, I discovered other people had this large, electronic device (this is 2009, mind you) and could store several books at once. Lugging all that weight across the country; finishing them and not having anything else to read was so frustrating that I swore I’d get the electronic version! Now, having cataract correcting monovision makes paper harder to read and electronic easier to read for me. Plus, the 2,000 plus books on my kindle are always there and I’m not lugging them around!

    However, my husband still loves the feel of paper and the smell of books so there’s still a die hard paper reader in our house!

    Thanks again!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Love the story about your Bartlett’s and dictionary, Ruth–and about lugging boxes of books with you whenever you moved. Same for me, and I’m now quite the expert at packing up books (which are oh, so much easier to pack than breakable knick-knacks–of which I also have quite a few).

      I do now have an e-reader, but so prefer the feel of paper books, as well as the ability to easily flip back a few pages when I need to look something up.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We, too, were career military. When we PCSed back from Germany, we had 51 book boxes of books. One of the movers said, as he brought in the last box, “Fifty-one boxes of books. Do me a favor, don’t ask for us when you move again.”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve had the experience of getting rid of books that I thought I no longer wanted, just to go and buy them back again (for more $$$ than I paid the first time), because I missed having them around.
    Someone once said that a true friend is one you can be with and never speak a word. Books are like that.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Books became less difficult for me once I started a Little Free Library at work. I also began donating them to the local library. This wasn’t throwing them away; it was sending information out into the world. I found that perspective helpful.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one with shelves graced by model horses, to boot!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yay, Sharon! So glad someone noticed my collection of Breyer horses–which I first started buying when I was about nine years old.

      We, too have a Free Little Library at our house. But rather than allowing me to let some of my own books go, I find that it only ends up adding to my collection, lol…

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m totally with you! All of my clutter sparks joy. I keep a small donation box in my bedroom for clothes that just don’t fit anymore and miscellany I decide to part with. But it’s a small box and I only take it to the donation place a few times a year.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Leslie, I have bookshelf envy! Thanks for sharing your fab pictures of your books!

    I keep on accumulating mine, even though I’ve given some to the library (and now the Little Free Libraries). Where to put my growing stack is a good question…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. As I get older, I find that “stuff” doesn’t give me joy like it used to, and when I croak, somebody else has to deal with all of it. I follow the “one in, one out” rule (which applies to clothes and kitchen gadgets too) so whenever I get new books, I give an equal number of old books to our senior center. But God bless my kindle!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ha! The only books I’ll never get rid of are my signed copies. I have so many great books signed by so many great friends. I wonder what my kids will do with those!


  11. I’ve given away hundreds of books but continue to keep all of my art and history books. When I give away my mostly paperback true crime and mysteries, it gives me joy that I’m able to share the books I love with others.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Wow! Book people rock! Or as a posting I saw on Facebook last week said: “Bookworms will rule the world…….as soon as we finish one more chapter.”
    And what I really got a kick from in your post was seeing several titles that I own and have on my bookshelves.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I have books in just about every room of my house (except the bathroom – moisture). I force a purge now and then, but only of the stuff we really will never read or read again.

    Just this past weekend, my father gave me a book he bought from a used bookstore back in December 1996, which would have been the first December I’d been married. It was the first, last, and only time he and my mother were able to come to Pittsburgh and do the “touristy” thing before my mom died. He gave it to me for safekeeping.

    Will I read it? Maybe not. But how do you get rid of something like that?

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Ha ha, yes I have a lot of books. I walked around my 2-bedroom apartment and counted 22 bookcases! I rarely get rid of books, it’s so hard.

    And yes, there is room to buy more bookcases, if I used the main hallway and rest of the empty wall space in my living room.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. So well put. I usually just think, “Shut up, Marie.” I am surrounded by books and I love it My rule is to only keep what has special memories, what I would like to read again, or what I haven’t read yet. And to only buy new books that I really, really, really want to own. Well, as you can imagine that is pretty much all my books. Wanting to read it again doesn’t mean I will ever have the time, but who knows, right? Before the pandemic started I would donate many of the ARCs I was lucky enough to receive and anything that fit the above category to the VA Clinic at the Air Force Base where we receive our medical care. I still donate when and where possible but it’s a drop in the bucket. And that works just fine for me. My husband buys me books and can always find room for another bookshelf, I can always squeeze a few more in to a closet somewhere or on the corner of my desk. Running out of things to read is much scarier than trying to find room! Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “Running out of things to read is much scarier than trying to find room”–sooooo true, Sally! And hey, you can always store books under the bed–just like I used to tell my parents I could keep a horse there, when I was nine years old!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Leslie, the relatively few books I’m willing to part with my husband wants to hang onto. I guess we’re destined to always live in a very disorganized library!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Several years ago when I redid my basement TV/puzzle/whatever area and added a bathroom to the basement I got rid of about 30 bankers boxes of books. I had read all of them. I did keep some favorite series though. I’ve now accumulated a lot more and they are upstairs, downstairs and all around the house. I have a few collections and childhood toys I’ve kept as well as my clamp on roller skates (I still have the key) which I display in the basement with a couple of toys. I need to purge, but like you most of the things I have I love, or I wouldn’t still have them. I have a collection of small Steiff animals I started collecting when I first visited my German relatives. I had a letter written in 1900 to my great aunt and I was able to track them down using information from the letter. I visited them for many years until my cousin died last year at 91. I even learned to speak German (not well, but I tried.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m guessing it won’t surprise you, Diana (or anyone), that I, too, have a collection of small Steiff animals from when I was a kid. Love that you were able to track down relatives from that 1900 letter!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Leslie, when I met the relatives for the first time I discovered they had they original letter in German that had been sent to my great aunt. A translator wrote the English one that I have. They also had a picture of my great aunt (she died before I was born) and I have the same photo but didn’t know who it was.


  18. But those horses!!!
    I had many like them growing up and now am down to only two. And I can’t even blame Kondo for their loss. That was on me. I let the horses go. I saved the books.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Amazing book (and record!) collection, Leslie!! I have oodles of books, too, and can’t bear to part with them, including old paperbacks purchased at the airport (that I didn’t especially like). They are like friends! Plus, I love to force volumes onto unsuspecting guests if I think they might enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This post is great timing for me, Leslie. I need to do a bit of Kondo-izing now before Fall hits. But thank you, because you have made the perfect case for me me to keep all of my books, lol. (And I particularly noticed your horse collection. They are beautiful–and see, I am not afraid at all of plastic horses, aren’t you proud of me?)


  21. Belated comment! Leslie, I couldn’t agree with you more. Books spark MY joy. I know once our library sales are back I’ll need to do a big purge. But until then, my books are my solace.


  22. I have a lot, but I don’t want to get rid of them, they’re like family!! I only get rid of those that I didn’t enjoy reading or don’t think will be useful, the more the merrier 📚😊 Wow, you have an impressive LP collection, that’ s brilliant, and I bet they’ll be well sought after one day!!


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