Are Books Clutter?

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

As someone who follows pop culture and its trends at quite a distance, I'm marginally aware of Marie Kondo and her lifestyle media empire that focuses on decluttering. I recently read of an uproar caused by Kondo's supposed advice to rid your home of anything more than thirty books. A counter uproar ensued because of the supposed misreading of her advice by bibliophiles who were mortified with the idea of books as clutter. According to my social media feeds, several of my friends and colleagues have tried Kondo's method and found great joy, if not a temporary obsession, with the KonMari method. As I understand it, joy is the point. If an object doesn't bring you joy, you should remove it from your home.

I was reminded of this decluttering craze as I worked in my office this afternoon. I glanced over to my left and saw that the setting sun was casting lovely shadows over a small part of my book collection. I'm one of those odd people who likes things decluttered and organized but who also collects (some might say hoards) certain things that I love. Books and shoes mainly. I appreciate the spirit of decluttering. I've felt the joy after cleaning out my closet or tossing old stuff into the recycling bin. But for me, narrowing down my book collection to thirty or less would bring me the exact opposite of joy. For others it would be a release. And still for others, there wouldn't be thirty books in the house to begin with. And that is OK.

What brings each of us joy is different. Finding joy cannot be accomplished by a method, a prescription, a trend, or a fad. Paint your walls with colors that soothe you, that make you happy, that inspire you. Even if they aren't the shades of grey everyone is doing right now. Take the things out of your home that stress you out, that don't suit their purpose, or that bring bad memories. Even if they're things that you feel obligated by someone else to hold on to. Finally, fill your home with whatever it is that brings you joy. Even it if is more than thirty.

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