Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sacred Clutter: Books

I find it intriguing that even many minimalists and declutter enthusiasts have a holy grail of items that they mutually consider untouchable: books. Even Dave Bruno, creator of the 100 Things Challenge, excludes books from his list of 100 things.

Why are books so untouchable? I mean, I get it. I love books and reading. I haven't made the leap to a Kindle or Nook or any other e-reader because I prefer to curl up with a paperback at the end of a long day of staring at a screen. I read so much in fact, that I'd hate to have to pay the bill to buy all of the books I go through in a year, let alone a lifetime. That's why the vast majority of my books come from our wonderful public library. I'm lucky enough to live in a large city with one of the top-rated public library systems in the world, so finding the books I want to read for free is easy.

Even I, avid library user that I am, own books. Sentimental books from my childhood and beyond, a few classics (Jane Austen, anyone?), and books purchased to take on vacation or when I couldn't wait for my turn to read a popular title from the library.

In fact I was surprised to discover that I owned 212 books when I counted them earlier this year. Since then I've purged quite a few especially after the boy agreed we could lose the extra bookcase in the spare room is I shared some space in the large bookcase, which I had previously considered untouchable. So I did.

I don't consider books untouchable, in fact, the library is like our collective free storage space for all the books we're only going to read once, or once every few years. Why take up space in my home to house those copies?

After purging the books I didn't love, wasn't going to read again, or could easily borrow from the library, I find I'm left with 120 books. Once I finish reading my large collection of unread books even more will go.

Do you want to purge some of your book collection? Tips that helped me:
  • Be realistic about your book collection. If you're not going to re-read or refer to a title let it go.

  • On the fence about purging a book? Check and see if your local library has it, that way you can borrow it whenever you get the urge! Checking this is simple; most library catalogs are searchable online.

  • Stop the inflow of books, borrow books from the library instead of buying them. You'll save money and avoid future clutter.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reused Beauty

My birthday is at the end of this month and the Boy keeps pestering me for gift ideas. I can't think of a single thing I really want. Oh what a terrible problem to have, right?

There's always my hunt for some new ballet flats that actually fit my ginourmous feet. Or maybe some new clothes. But both of these items would have to be carefully selected by me and merely paid for by the giver; not the most exciting idea to either party. Surely there's something I want, even during my quest to be greener?

I tried suggesting the Boy give the gift of labor and restore an old window or two (as if he doesn't do enough of that stuff anyway), but he quickly nixed that idea.

I do want reusable produce bags so I can skip more plastic at the grocery. Besides that not being the most exciting bday gift, I'd rather try my hand at making these bags I saw on Itty Bitty Impact this week. Unfortunately, this will require a sewing machine, which I do not have. As it happens, my mom recently purchased a used sewing machine for me but in my usual delicate fashion I scoffed and refused it because a) I don't sew and b) I'm purging, not acquiring, silly! Maybe it's time I buck up and learn how to sew? I'm sure my mom still has the machine, but asking for it will require some groveling on my part.

t-shirt produce bags from Delia Creates

A few weeks ago the boy and I spent a few Saturday hours unsuccessfully hunting everywhere online for the perfect daybed for the spare bedroom. We ended up deciding to just purchase a simple frame for his queen size mattress that currently lives in there. A much cheaper and greener solution. But if I still wanted a daybed, this one featured on Design Sponge this week would be perfect.

If only I was creative and inventive enough to figure out how to reuse the items I have rather than always going out to purchase a new solution for my wants.


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