In case you missed it, I interviewed a BookTuber called Yasmin the other day and we really got to chat a bit about minimalism as her content changed quite a bit when she started practicing it. From that, I was kind of inspired to discuss it a bit more and do some research to see what other people might be saying about it, especially since having a book hobby can be notorious with having a book collection and buying book-related things – particularly in the online book community.
Having a book collection is not bad – I have one myself, but practicing minimalism is inherently about having and buying less. Enjoying the little things and making good use of what we have. To start the discussion, I thought I’d go through my own journey with minimalism and how it has impacted my life.
NOTE: In this article, when I say getting rid of books, I ALWAYS donate them. I’ve donated books back to op shops to be sold again, I’ve donated ARCs to local primary schools (because ARCs should never be sold). I love the idea that even if you aren’t keeping a book, it can bring enjoyment to someone else.
When you call a person a minimalist, you’re describing their interest in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something. In art history, the minimalists were artists whose work involved extremely simple gestures and ideas.Vocabulary.com
How I Became A Minimalist
In late 2016, I guess you could say that I started off in the community as a minimalist. I was gifted a Kindle and got heaps on books on it, starting reading again after years of not doing so and this led me to find out about Bookstagram. I had no idea about the community until then, nevertheless bloggers or BookTubers. It inspired me to start my own Instagram account and find so many book recommendations. However, with my imminent employment, it also meant I started buying books.
Lots of books – left and right, I spent so much money on books, second-hand books at op shops, merch (so much merch) and I did this when I could afford it. So when I didn’t have much money to spend on books and merch anymore, I started to notice how much clutter I had acquired. Not just in the stuff I bought that was book-related but there was clutter everywhere in my life. My clothes, my makeup, my stuff. And it bothered me.
This may have been around the time Marie Kondo started getting popular but you could say I followed her method even though I didn’t know I was doing it. Around mid-2018, I began The Purge. I went through everything I owned, got rid of so many books I either didn’t care about, or knew I’d never actually read. I realized that there was no point in collecting all the things I had if they weren’t actually making me feel happy. It didn’t help that seeing others on Instagram and YouTube with libraries and constant consumerism created this pressure, this FOMO that I must get these too to feel better about myself. Not to mention the pretty unsolicited books publishers sent me that didn’t always catch my attention. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my toxic relationship with consumerism.
The cool thing about The Purge was that it wasn’t a single event either, I continued to do it again and again, really assessing my items. Particularly my clothing; I got rid of a lot of clothes I have had for years and never worn (this was especially hard for my mother who is a bit of a hoarder and kept trying to keep my clothes for herself or my “cousins” who may want it). At the end of 2019, I ended up getting rid of one of my bookcases. I didn’t need it for books anymore because I only kept the ones I really wanted/loved and I wasn’t buying many books anymore.
This year, I started being able to buy more books again! And let me tell you, that it has been a struggle to maintain minimalism. I guess this is where the debate of minimalism vs. being frugal can happen but I’m proud to still call myself a minimalist.
Minimalism Isn’t Just Getting Rid of Books
Something I realized in my journey to being more minimalist was that getting rid of books or unhauling books wasn’t the only way you could practice minimalism. Culling books may be a first step to clearing the clutter and giving myself a fresh start but maintaining my book collection so my buying habits didn’t get out of control again was harder.
The first step was to remind myself that I don’t need to buy certain books right now, they’re not going anywhere and I already have plenty to read on my shelves as it is. We have a lifetime to read what we want, and local libraries generally keep a good collection on hand too.
Second, was to continue analyzing what I had. If I wanted to buy something new, I looked at the existing books, clothes, whatever, and thought, what is this replacing? What can I get rid of now that I wasn’t loving before? It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype and the feeling that you NEED something so bad. It’s harder to step back and wonder, is this really a need or a want to satisfy something else?
You can also practice minimalism by borrowing books from your library, using an eco-friendly digital eReader like a Kindle (which I’m trying to use more but still prefer physical books) and buying from second-hand stores.
When analyzing my book collection and what I want to keep, I found an interesting article a while ago that gave a good guide for what books to keep:
1. & 2. Re-read/Recommend
3. Reference (what I consider to be favourites as well)
4. Rare (I may not collect special editions anymore but doesn’t mean I want to get rid of the ones I have already collected)The Lifestyle Files
I don’t know if you’d necessarily call how it’s impacted my life “results”, because this is a continuous process but I definitely feel so much better about myself and my possessions since I’ve embraced minimalism. I moved out for the first time this year and it made the process so much easier (cause I had so much less stuff to move). I generally tend to feel satisfied after cleaning up my apartment. Removing clutter is another way of cleaning and “cleansing” my space. It allows me to recharge and start fresh!
I’ve become more critical of my spending too, by saving more money and supporting other content creators instead of chasing specific special editions with a passion or impulsively buying books I’m not going to read soon. Something I’m also new at is digital decluttering; organizing and deleting computer files I don’t need – although this one is so tedious and not as satisfying. A work in progress 😛
Being a minimalist isn’t for everyone, may people enjoy having lots of things around them and that’s okay. No one should ever let what someone else does dictate what they also do. Do what feels right for you and focus on your own happiness, particularly your mental health during this unfortunate pandemic.
So, how do you feel about minimalism? Do you practice it too? How does it work with your reading hobby?
Until next time,