{Reader’s Life} How to Kondo Your Books

how to Kondo your books

I have been on a bender.

Inspired by the now-infamous Marie Kondo, the Japanese organization and tidying expert, I have been plowing through every corner of my house.

Clothes and shoes were first: after a three-hour session, I eliminated five garbage bags full of stuff that no longer, as Kondo puts it, sparked joy. I was thrilled. I gave a few items to friends, who had consistently expressed interest in them, but the rest went into the donation bin.

I felt so free afterward.

I’m not new to organizing. I love Real Simple magazine and have always aspired to be as organized as the rooms are inside. I know they are all staged but still, I can dream.

However, Kondo does prescribe an order to her process. You must purge by category, not by room. Clothes first, then books. How to Kondo the books?

I was nervous.

Granted, I am not a hoarder. I purge on a somewhat regular basis. I love cleaning out and was definitely looking forward to this process, and the inevitable result. I think it was more the realization that I was really going to go for it this time that made me reschedule my book-cleaning adventure three times.

Today was the day. I must confess- I did not lug all of the books in my home into one room. If I had done so, I would have filled whichever room I chose completely. Instead, I went through each bookcase and book storage location in turn and picked up each book, setting those who did not spark joy aside. As with my clothes, I was amazed at how clear it was which ones were keepers and which ones, in the words of Heidi Klum, were out.

The books that people gave me that they thought I would love, but I just never quite got around to. The books I bought for hobbies I never planned on beginning. The books that were perfect for me- ten or fifteen years ago. They all get to move on.

My hot tips:

  1. Do NOT read the book as you take it off the shelf. If it’s a cookbook, you can flip through to see if the recipes appeal to you at all, but don’t start reading anything. Just hold it and ask.
  2. The second you start to construct a justification for keeping the book, ask yourself how you would feel if it was gone. Every time I used this trick I realized how free I felt imagining letting the book go. Magic.
  3. Have boxes or containers to put your books into ready to go when you begin. I did not do this. Now there are piles of books all over my house and I am going to have to sort this out pronto. Take my advice and save yourself the headache.

After this three hour session, I am both relieved and suddenly horrified- who is going to help me get all these books out of my house? Help!

Have you ever purged your books? Do you even keep books? Are you a digital or an analog reader? And, if you have also Kondo-ed your books, do let me know how it went and send along any tips about getting those books off to a new home…

More on that once I accomplish it. Wish me luck!

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Further Exploring

  • Abby Kojola - The best time I ever Kondo-ed my books was when I was living on Ashbury Street at Haight St. There was this man named James, aka the Haight Street Sidewalk King, who sold stuff on a blanket in front of our house on the weekends. He was also “in charge” of the flowers and odd memorials to many great rock n’ roll heros up & down the sidewalks on the main blocks of upper Haight St.
    Anyway, I opened my door and gave about 1/2 my books to James. He sold them all…often to my friends that were coming over, but he handled them and it was the easiest and best “getting rid of books” scenario ever.ReplyCancel

    • caroline - So great! I wish we had a James here… I think I will be lugging the lot down to The Last Bookstore, a great used bookshop downtown, to see if they’d like to take any of the books I’m letting go. Crossing my fingers!ReplyCancel

  • claire - When we moved to this house, I limited myself to four (!) tall bookcases of books, due to space constraints. I sold many on Amazon and donated those that were not worth enough to bother shipping. I didn’t follow a patented method of sorting, but I suppose I asked myself if I would list the book amongst my favourites and only then did I keep it. I have kept up this method and have not overspilled my allocated shelves since. Good luck in getting your unwanted books out of your living space!ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Thank you! We are progressing. B did his side of the office today, so our bookshelves in there look beauteous. Next step is to have him do his books in the rest of the house and to organize by category. We have them mapped out, it will just be a day of shlepping followed by the delight of being able to find everything. Congrats on your four bookcase plan- that is amazing discipline!ReplyCancel

  • Take a Big Bite | the book dr. - […] have been on the Kondo train. This week it was books, but last week I cleaned my closet out for good. You can, […]ReplyCancel

  • Confessions of a Book Hoarder | Book Dr. tv - […] I know I Kondo-ed my books recently, but it’s so hard not to get sucked in by all the […]ReplyCancel