I find myself tonight in one of my favorite places on the planet. The library. Libraries are magical places. When I think of great old mansions I always fantasize about visiting the libraries with dark wood paneled walls and book shelves that extend all the way to the ceiling. Books feel of luxury and opportunity.
What a delight to find myself here surrounded by books, shelves and shelves of beautiful books. On the surface they are just lots of pages with words, but inside there are places to visit, adventures to be had, mystery’s to solve. The spines show their titles and offer a teasing taste of the contents, Titles like “Abducted”, “A Season of Love,” and” Facing Justice”. I’ve not read any of these particular titles, but I have read my share of books. I’ve read book series that were so real that by the end I felt like the characters were friends and the events were real. I’ve found myself saying a prayer for a “person” in a book and then remembering that the world I was wrapped up in was fiction!
Let’s be honest, we have a love affair with books. Books offer promises. They promise to make us better people through titles on Self-Help. Cookbooks promise to deliver delicious, beautiful meals. Adventures offer us a way to escape from the real world. Mysteries entertain, Studies make us think, and kids books invite us to snuggle and pause with the little people that we love.
Books can be great treasures, they become firmiliar and add warmth to our homes. And yet, book’s can be some of the greatest offenders in our battle against clutter. Book’s add to our mental clutter by sending us messages of guilt. They sound like, “You need to find time to read me,” or “You’ve failed on implementing the changes that I promised for you.”
When we run out of space we buy more shelves or cram books into places where they are not ment to belong. Once we buy a book it is hard to let it go. They feel practical, and harmless, maybe even virtuous. It is, after all, a good thing to be a reader. Somehow we get part of our identity or perhaps our fantasy identity through the titles that we display around our homes.
In my quest for a “Skinny House” I decided that if I could get a title at the library or on an audiobook I would let go of my copy. There are a few exceptions, you know the ones, the well loved, highlighted, notes in the margins, pull it out and quote from it books. Those are keepers, and that’s OK.
My challenge for you today is to take a fresh look at your books. Ask yourself, do they represent the real you of today? Are your books a collection of a past you or a future person that you wish you could become? Be honest with yourself and set free anything that is not relevant to the you of today. Maybe donate them to your local library, they will be there waiting for you.