the minimalist bookworm

22 March 2019

Spring cleaning is my favorite time. Something about the sunshine and all the hopes for summer causes an incessant itch to purge everything. I hate unnecessary clutter and find it so satisfying to get rid of boxes of stuff from my closet, room, desk, and even my bookcase. I been called unsentimental by several people. I throw out so many things without even thinking, it can seem like I don't care about anything. However, I wouldn't call myself unsentimental, I just have a very different view of sentimentalism.

If I don't feel sentimental about an item, I'm not going to keep it. I don't want to pretend to feel sentimental about things that I legitimately don't care about, even if they are things I "should" feel sentimental about, like old toys, or knick knacks given to me from relatives. I am just way more selective with the things I care about. I also tend to feel more sentimental about memories and experiences than objects.

This philosophy, and my general hatred of clutter in general, has caused me to become a minimalist in all aspects of my life, including my reading and book buying habits.

At the beginning of the year, the online reading community went insane with the suggestion from Marie Kondo, organization wizard, to only own around 30 books. I must admit that even I thought that limiting everyone to owning strictly 30 books was a bit extreme. However, I do think personally it's important for readers to be selective when buying and keeping books.

I'm sure there are those who would disagree with me and would insist that they cannot live without showering themselves with books and keeping every book they've ever bought, and that's fine. As book lovers, the aspiration to build our own Beauty-and-the-Beast library is very appealing, and I think it's cool when someone's love of books overflows into their whole house.

But for me, as a minimalist bookworm, it is more important that my personal collection be made entirely of books that have significant meaning to me. If one of my friends wanted to pick a book from my shelves, I want them to be reassured that all of the books I own have my strong recommendation and stamp of approval.

I value the experience of reading a book and the memories surrounding it much more than owning the physical book forever, collecting dust on my shelves. I can get rid of books from my shelves easily by thinking about my own experience and reassuring myself that I am passing on that experience to another reader by giving it away. My rule is if I can see myself rereading a book, I'll keep it, if not, I donate or sell it.

Another aspect of being a minimalist bookworm is buying books. When I first found the online book community, I got excited and felt like in order to be a true book lover I must spend my life savings on all the books I could to grow my collection. Of course, being a broke college student, I don't feel that anymore. There has been a lot said about book consumerism, so I don't want to go into it too much. But I personally like being more selective when buying books.

There have been so many times when I've bought a book only to be disappointed by it and wishing I had just borrowed it from the library instead. I only buy a book now if I genuinely think I will love it, or if I've already read it and want to own a copy so I can reread it whenever I want. Honestly, a lot of the time I find I enjoy reading library books more than new books (but that's a topic for another post).

I definitely own way more than 30 books, but because I value only keeping the books that mean something to me I have very minimalist shelves. In reality, there are maybe 5 books right now that I am extremely sentimental about and I know I'll never give up.

I definitely don't want to shame anyone for owning hundreds of books. If you find comfort by being surrounded by books, that's great! I just value being selective and minimalist and wanted to express why I do.

Are you a minimalist or a book hoarder? I'd love to discuss all the book habits!


  1. I get most of my reading material from the library because I almost never buy fiction I haven't read (unless it's an author I've read before or I otherwise know that I'll love it), and I got rid of any ugly copies. I'm try to focus on buying favorites that have pretty covers. My reference collection is much larger (cookbooks, sewing, languages, etc.).

  2. Usually I would borrow from the library rather than outright buy a book out of caution - also, my mother's a librarian so it's quite easy for me to get my greedy little paws on a book that way. If I buy a book, it's because I love it and I know that re-reading it will bring me a lot of joy in the future. I definitely would buy poetry books though - I have a Max Ehrmann collection that can completely change my mood just by reading it!

  3. It seems like everyone is watching/doing the Marie Kondo thing, these days lol. And I agree with you, thirty books seems sparse, especially for a serious bookworm.
    I find myself in the middle between minimalist and hoarder, honestly. I try, as much as I can, to read books from the library first. I know, I’d never pay full price for a book I haven’t read. But since I do most of my book shopping at thrift stores and Goodwill, when there is a book for .25 and the story looks halfway interesting – chances are I will buy it. More often than not, though, those “I might read this someday” books end up sitting on my shelf for months before I read them.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this post because it’s something I often think about.

  4. I get this! I can pare down my clothes pretty easily, but when I start "purging" my books, not much comes off the shelves. But in the past couple of years I've grown to appreciate the library more, and I'm trying to buy only books that I like - or think I'll like - enough to reread. It's nice to know there are other bookworms out there who don't buy piles of new books all the time.