Minimalism and Books

I have been deeply in love with books for as long as I can remember. When I started earning, I started buying more books. But somewhere along the line, hoarding books turned into a bigger passion over reading them.

I would look for online book sale. I would scour newspaper for In-Store book sale. I would hunt for all sorts of bookshops. Buying books would give me an incomparable high and it would always be an instant pick-me-up. I have also bought fancy, expensive books (as much as 800 rupees for one) for my little one.

Every nook and corner of my house would be crammed with books and magazines. I would pile up old issues of magazines in cupboards and trunks. And those magazines would date back to 5-6 years. It wasn’t as if those were special collectors’ editions. My ultimate dream house fantasy featured a home library with books lining up my walls.

But the weird thing is that I was so much in love of holding onto the books that I would procrastinate reading them. I was trying to find happiness in the ‘ownership’ of those books. I would be smug in the knowledge that I was passionate about books and not superficial things like clothes or shoes or jewellery. But what is the use of books if we don’t read them, if we don’t revel in what each one of them has to offer? Any kind of mindless purchase is the same if those things are not adding any value to you or your life. I am as much an addict as another person. I am seeking happiness in ownership and so is the next person.

When I came across Minimalism, the idea of pursuing a mindful life appealed to me.  Yes, I don’t want to spend my life organizing and maintaining stuff which are of no value to me. Yes, I want freedom to pursue my true passion. The more I read about it, the more I was fascinated by it. It complemented my philosophy and general outlook towards life. Most importantly, I do not want my son to believe that mindless consumption is okay. Shopping is an addiction, sometimes also misconstrued as ‘therapy’. Consumerism can never fill your inner emptiness.

So, even though I remain a book-lover (in fact more so since I am reading more now), I changed a few things in my approach towards books:

  1. I removed (or am in the process of removing) all the books which I have read and which are never going to be read again.
  2. I buy very few books now.
  3. Looking at how difficult it is to remove physical books, I even started reading e-books. They create less clutter (digital clutter is another sore point), are cheaper and can be bought instantly when you actually want to read them.
  4. Though I still buy books for my 4 year old, I allot a budget for it. I rarely buy any book over 200 rupees. I was lucky to catch 2 books-by-weight sale of imported books this year. I bought over 30 books for less than 1000 rupees. I keep pruning his collection, to remove anything he has outgrown or finds uncomfortable or unsuitable.
  5. I am keen to join a library in future for both of us.
  6. I am also keen to buy a Kindle but not anytime soon. There are still too many books with me.

My biggest learning is that it is possible to love something without owning it. On second thoughts, this is true for relationships too!

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