The Minimalist Approach to Books

This post was last updated on January 28th, 2019

​I have always loved books. My passion for reading was instilled in me by my late father who made sure that I read a lot from a very early age. I started reading years before I started school and had already finished entire children’s books for eight-year-olds by the time I was six.
In my teens, I borrowed books from our local library all the time. Reading was the main thing I did. When I got my first job I was excited to actually not have to borrow books any longer and could buy my own books instead. I couldn’t walk into a bookstore without buying at least one or two books and always dreamed about one day having an apartment with one room dedicated to storing my books. Eventually, this led to me buying books faster than I could read them.

When I moved to Greece, I knew it was impossible to take my books with me due to their weight. Storing them with my parents was not an option because due to the weight it would take ages for them to be able to bring or send them. I realized I had to leave them behind. I only brought three books: a book about Greece that a friend had given me as a farewell gift, the book that I was reading at the time, and the most recent book I had purchased. When my brother visited he took the latter with him because I had finished it, and he wanted to read it. Since then I got one book for my birthday and purchased another one. I have not been doing nearly as much reading as in the past since moving here and will definitely try to focus more on borrowing books rather than buying them. 

We have to understand that it’s not about owning books but about reading them. For many people, books are a status symbol to show how educated they are. That makes them just as bad as other materialistic status symbols. As much as we would like to think our status symbols are better because they indicate something else we still use them to present something to other people rather than focusing on the content. 

While it is most certainly one of the nicest things in the world to sit at home with a nice book while it rains outside this doesn’t mean you have to own every single book you have ever read. How about exchanging books with others, passing books on to friends who you know would love a certain book just as much as you did.

It’s difficult to admit that sometimes we see books more as physical items that sit on a shelf than something we use for a specific purpose. And, let’s face it, how often do we really go back to check something in a book that we read years ago? Keeping books we have read in the past is, for the most part, unnecessary and only helps to feed the ego.

It’s interesting actually: Books take us everywhere, we get to imagine all kinds of times and places, they expand our imagination, they give us the freedom to be in our room and travel elsewhere. And yet, owning too many physical books will actually tie us down. Moving somewhere if you own more than 20 books will become a huge hassle. Books should liberate you, and not weigh you down and restrict your ability to move.

If you want to make your book collection more minimalist take a look at every single one of your books and think about whether you really need to keep it. Think about someone who might enjoy this particular book just as much as you did. Also take a look at the books you haven’t read yet. At some point, that turned out to be the majority of the books I owned as I was just not able to keep up with the books I was buying. How useful is it to own all these books if you cannot find the time to read them? 

The beauty of books is that they can transform us, not their ability to collect dust on a shelf.

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