Do you find your books to be clutter or love stacking them?
I have never been much of a hoarder and periodically declutter by donating things (that were useful to me at a certain point in my life but have ceased to be of use later mainly due to the end of the useful life of the materials, or changes in my lifestyle, or changes in my outlook towards life, etc.) to the needy, or reselling them, and/or giving them away for recycling. I have always loved a decluttered environment - be it home or workspace. But that does not mean I have never bought stuff in excess of what I needed. However, ever since I've become more environmentally conscious, I've been trying to reduce my consumerism (as excessive consumerism is one major reason that is destroying our planet) by being more mindful of what I buy and by adopting realistic minimalism.
Despite my (at times) rapturous ways of decluttering, when it comes to books I'm NOT the one who finds joy in letting go of my books, no matter how overflowing my shelves look, no matter how many small book stacks I have in all the rooms of my home (except the kitchen, of course!), no matter how old the books are, no matter how tattered they are, no matter the fact that I've completed reading the book, no matter the number of boxes I need to pack my books when I'm shifting apartments. Heck, I'm also guilty of Tsundoku (the practice of buying more books than one can read and I guess many of you book lovers have this habit), though I mean to read every book I've bought or will buy, at some point or other.
But that doesn't mean I intend to hold on to every single book I own. I am always happy to pass on the book to any book lover or an avid reader who enjoys reading as much as I do.
And of course, I could and can let go of some books that did not or do not 'spark joy'. I could let go of my technical books that had become outdated though with a heavy heart; I could and can let go of some magazines I never intend to reread, and some books that did not or do not bring out any other emotion in me other than aversion.
According to the decluttering queen Marie Kondo, one should only keep those things that spark joy. While according to her, one should also not keep more than 30 books (that spark joy) if they mean to declutter and should get rid of the remaining, to which I couldn't disagree more.
I would love to keep my books...
Ah! The smell and the feeling of holding a book in hand is unparalleled...
And these are the reasons why....
I have a collection of both e-books and physical books that I read. But the view of rows of random books that occupy the shelves and book stacks itself gives me joy. The colourful spines of the books with titles in varied fonts stacked or piled one after another impart a magical feeling rather than adding to my visual clutter. They are representative of my moods or phases that I often go through. I have photography books to help me enhance my knowledge about photography when I'm obsessed with photography; the books on Indian birds help me identify a bird when I'm birdwatching; cookbooks enhance my knowledge when I'm going through the 'experimental cooking' and 'foodporn' phase; there are the Ruskin Bond books that I love to read after every serious non-fiction read, and the list goes on.
I even harbour a dream of having a room in my home that is stacked with books from floor to ceiling on at least two walls and which will be my 'Hygge' (a Danish word for a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being) room.
Most of the books I have read have enriched me in one way or the other. They have helped me initiate and continue a conversation with a like-minded soul, escape boredom, initiate introspection and mould myself into a better person, delve deeper into the world of words when in solitude, and get a peek into the thought processes of geniuses (For e.g., Wings of Fire by A P J Abdul Kalam, Childhood Days by Satyajit Ray, Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein to name a few). Even after I complete reading a book, the effect lingers on for some time and have often served a purpose in my life in some way or other.
The more I read, the more my mind opens up to the world of knowledge and I keep on changing as a person. So, despite the stacks of unread books in my possession and books out there, I like to reread certain books so that I can look at them from a different perspective, or get a deeper insight, or remind myself of the major takeaways from the book, or just because I absolutely loved reading it the first time. I'm currently rereading Ruskin Bond's 'The Book of Nature'. When this is the case, how can I even think of book unhauling?
As for the unread books, they are assets waiting to be opened and devoured on a weekend, on a waiting lounge, on the train especially while travelling solo, on a vacation, on an idle rainy afternoon in a cosy corner of the house, or on a night after a tiring day.
And what use is realistic minimalism if not for the pursuit of passions? And reading has always been my passion..
As the all knowing Sidhu Jyatha (sitting in his room filled with books) from Feluda would say 'moner janla gulo khule rekho jate alo r batash dhuke mon take taja rakhe' (Keep the windows of the mind open so that light and fresh air enters the mind and keeps it fresh).
Shiddeshwar Basu, aka Sidhu Jyatha (Sidhu Uncle), is an elderly character in the Feluda (Detective Prodosh C. Mitter) novels (by Satyajit Ray) who describes himself as Sherlock Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, living on Sardar Sankar Road. He has a photographic memory and a vast source of information that comes in handy whenever Feluda needs to check some facts. He was the 1960s equivalent of Google. (Source - https://www.business-standard.com/article/specials/satyajit-ray-s-feluda-turns-50-115040200803_1.html)