Decluttering 1: Books

“Decluttering is good for the soul.”

Whatever the truth of this, decluttering has become a necessity for the Obliques: it’s either that or drown in a metaphorical sea of clutter. We have also been inspired by a book given to us by the eldest Miss Oblique, entitled ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, by Marie Kondo. This does almost take tidying to a spiritual level.

As recommended by Ms Kondo, I started with clothes; Mrs O, forever more practical and direct, started on the kitchen. My biggest pile of discarded clothing was my heap of ties; I have only worn one on four occasions since retiring, and three of those occasions were funerals.

Now I’m onto books, This is not so easy. Marie Kondo recommends getting all your books out. This would take the entire floor area of the house, so I’ve done a shelf at a time. She tells you to take each book, hold it without opening it and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is “yes”, then keep it. If not….

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The discards from the first shelf are, as you can see, a mixed bunch. Some groups are:

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Books I’ve never finished. Ms Kondo says you’ll never finish them…. and I agree with her. Will I ever understand genetics? Probably not. Do I care any more about Wittgenstein’s life and thought? Not enough to read the book.

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Spiritual/ mystical books. There are more of these to come. I have another edition of the Tao Te Ching. Siddhartha had its impact on me and I’m not going to re-read it now.

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Modern novels (good stuff) that I’ve read once and won’t get time to read again. Come on! There’s so much stuff to read before I die! I do recommend John Banville and Tim Binding.

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‘Classic’ novels (I hate that term, but it suffices as a description.) Again, they have had an impact but I am not going to re-read them. With the wonder of the Kindle, I already have Vanity Fair electronically anyway, should I choose to go back to it. But there’s all that Dickens left… and the Barchester novels…. and still some Austen…. and who knows what new wonders will be published in my lifetime?

To conclude, it is still a bit of a wrench to discard any book. Tortilla Flat is an old favourite…. I still wish I could understand genetics….. and there’s a lot more to come. We do, however, need the space; and there has to be a compromise between what I would like to have and what’s practical in a family/ relationship. As I have said above, there is so much still to read. I’m looking forward to it.

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