Minimalism and Books

  I got rid of 2900 books. 

When I was a young foster kid, my mom learned the perfect punishment for me. Taking away my ability to read.

Punishments would include one or two months banned from the library, packing all the books in my bedroom and putting them outside my door – where she would keep them for weeks at a time (and I oftentimes didn’t get all the books back), and (when I was fairly young) sitting in front of the fireplace because “GO TO YOUR ROOM” isn’t a punishment when you’d rather be there anyway. 

I was an introvert who loved books more than people and had a hard time connecting with other students my age. This was greatly due to the large gap in age between the other foster kids and me. It was also due to my issues with trust, fears of getting close to others, and abandonment.

As time moved on, excruciatingly slow, I learned that you had to hold on to the things you loved. I learned that if you didn’t people could take them away from you, no matter what boundaries you set or what laws were in place. Your property, your freedom, your life.

It made me hold on to things. To gather them to my chest where no one could see them. To stick them in the back of my closet, or inside my pillowcases, or hide them under the false bottom I’d created in one of my dresser drawers. 

In adulthood, this didn’t change. I worked hard for my money. 80-85 hours a week to afford things no one could take from me. Books continued to be my solace and I filled my apartment with them. 

My closets had never-opened boxes of the books I had rescued from my childhood. My shelves overflowed, bowing beneath the weight of unread pages. Every surface, from kitchen to dining to living rooms, to stairs, to bedside tables had books on them. 

This isn’t a post shaming the surplus of books. It’s explaining my need to collect them. Not just read them. And trust me, I read a lot. It’s also explaining how I was able to let them go.

***

When Marie Kondo’s Netflix series first came out I had no idea what it was about. The one thing I did know was that she said to only keep 30 books. Everyone in every book group I was in  talked about it at length. For weeks, I dug into the show, into minimalism, and into the idea of living with less clutter.

They missed her point. 

It wasn’t my first introduction to minimalism but her Netflix series was the first that resonated with me because of this. She said to only keep items that spark joy. To hold them in your hands, feel their energy, ask yourself if it brings you joy.

If the answer is no, donate it. 

She also said (and I might be pulling this from her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – I read the anime version) that this process is less about what to “get rid of” or to throw away. It is more about what you keep. 

Think of it like this, if you only keep the things that spark joy your house is filled with only the things that bring you happiness. Nothing is weighing you down. Nothing there just for the heck of it. There’s more space for Light and love.

This resonated with me. I mean, I had begun hoarding all of these books because I wanted to keep the things I loved, but I wasn’t being selective. So would any ole book do? That seemed preposterous. 

So I went through my books. All of them. I read the synopsis for every single book, even if I had already read it. I separated them into several categories:

Books I Loved: 

These were the books I had already read and found them absolutely phenomenal. 

In this category, you could find Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, On Writing by Stephen King, Zeroes by Chuck Wendig, and my entire Argeneau vampire series collection by Lynsay Sands.

Books To Be Read:
This pile had all the books I hadn’t read yet – that I actually intended to read. Repeat. Actually intended to read. 

I still plan to read Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (the movie was great), Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine, and The Binding by Bridget Collins.

Books For Naomi:
A ton of the books I’ve kept from my childhood were ones I wanted to pass down to my children one day. Before breaking these down further, I put all “Naomi” books in the same pile. I knew I would donate some of these, too.       

I wanted to collect a few old-school Nancy Drew books. You know, the ones that made the entire shelf yellow? Love them! 

Books I’ll Never Read:

Instead of chucking every unread book into my TBR pile, I read the synopsis and was honest with myself. Will I read this book? Is it truly interesting or did I only buy it because of its popularity? If the answer was no, it went into the DONATE pile.

Although, I love James Patterson I have a ton of his “series” books that I’ve never read because I’m the type of reader that needs to follow the order of a series. So, I’d rather read these as ebooks or listen via audiobook.

Books Read but Unloved:

Another type of book that I hoarded was ‘Books I’ve Read’. It’s as if I kept them as a trophy for myself. Yay! You did it. Another book down! Nope, if I didn’t love it into the DONATE pile it went. Especially if I didn’t plan to read it again.

I read You by Carolyn Kepness and passionately disliked it. I kept this book for almost a year. Why?

***

After breaking the books into their categories, I packed up the ones I wanted to donate. The rest were shelved in my favorite way. By genre. Then “loosely” alphabetical by author’s last name.

In the first round of donating, I got rid of 2,900 books. I still have many and there are much more than 30. Although, Marie Kondo said not to start with the most sentimental area I had to. I’m glad I did. Once the books were gone (donated to the thrift store), it was easier to delve into other areas of the house.

In 2020, I had a huge set back due to Covid. I didn’t declutter as many things as I thought I would. During the pandemic, I gained 8lbs and emotionally took steps backward. I hung on to many things as well as buying some stuff I knew I didn’t need. However, I was able to donate another 150 books. That’s something.

Closer to the end of the year I found things leveling out. I found myself excited to lose weight, excited to get back to minimalism, and excited to see what a future of less clutter and more joy could be like. So, here I am.

Subscribe to continue reading more about my journey and how I heal through minimalism. 

 

Understanding True Minimalism

Heya,

I always wondered how Travel Writers live the way they do. It always intrigued me because I dreamed that one day I could do that. Getting up, grabbing a bag you packed specifically for convenience, hopping on a plane to an awesome location, checking into a hotel, seeing the sites, writing about different locations, experiencing different cultures, I could go on.

I never knew that this moment, this coronavirus moment, would be the time I’d get first hand experience at living far from home for an undetermined amount of time, in a place you’ve never been, with the small bag you brought with you (also packed with the baby’s things). I never knew that I’d suddenly understand what it meant to truly discover Minimalism.

In March, my guy made the executive decision that we would go visit friends in Louisiana during the virus outbreak. “It’s better than being stuck in the city where the chance of contracting the virus is so much higher” he said. I thought it was a stupid idea. Dumb idea. I hated the idea. All because I didn’t want to leave the safety and comfort of my own home. I didn’t want to take a 20 hour drive (turned 24 with baby and all that occurred on my way here) by myself after only 2 hours of sleep. I didn’t think that going to a place where there would be four of us, and a baby, versus home – where two of us and a baby was a good idea.

After the borders closed, and we’ve ended up stuck in Louisiana for 4 weeks (and counting- updated to 5.5), I can’t say that I’ve changed my mind any.

But here we are. The most surprising thing is that I never knew that this would be the moment I truly discovered Minimalism. Due to our status here, we’ve been forced to live in ONE room. Tony (my guy), Naomi (the baby), and I have reduced our lives to that of guests who never leave.

During one of my trips to the grocery store, the only place we go outside of the house, I had to buy my guy extra shirts and myself some tank tops as well. To make myself feel like I had some semblance of control over my life, at this moment, I bought five. One in every color. After buying Hilton Carter’s newest houseplant book Wild Interiors I got a box from Amazon and thought Hmm, why don’t I just fold the shirts, the way I learned while watching the Marie Kondo videos, and put them in there? Then I thought the same when we received a shipment of onesies from Naomi’s paternal grandmother (god bless her soul), I thought why don’t I put Naomi’s onesies, sleepers, socks, and bath towels in this box.

It felt like not only was I being smart on space, as the two can sit in the corner closed where she can’t get to them, but I was recycling! I’m new to the whole Recycle-Reuse thing. I know that I can propagate plants in Mason jars, as well as other things, and I’ve been doing that for a while and I want to stretch that energy to other things in my life. Usually I would do research on the ideal and find other ways to reuse my human debris but the internet isn’t the greatest out here in the boondocks (another reason I’m not the happiest at being away from home).

All in all, I’m on the cusp of going home and I’ve learned some things. It’s been 4 weeks and I have been without 95% of the things in my apartment. While they are useful, this ‘experience’ has made me realize that I can live on very little and still be comfortable. I can live without the boxes of papers and envelopes, the ‘for when I lose weight’ clothes hanging on hangers, the cat products for a cat my guy promised we can adopt but we never got, and the miscellaneous items that fill the shelves of my closets. I can live without all those lotions, sprays, elastics, and lotions that clog my bathroom. I can do without the random nonsense that fills my living room, and my dining room, and this is even after my initial de-cluttering session back in November 2019.  This is after the ‘I’m serious about this, babe. I’m determined to live with less clutter but a happier life’ speech I gave my guy before I started this journey. This is after the second de-cluttering session of February.

***

It’s made me realize that I have been on the right track. In the weeks since being home, since writing the first part of this blog post, I have taken a break from making truly ‘life changing’ decisions. This entire experience has been one of the craziest, scariest, most ill-prepared-for times of my life. I didn’t want to do anything on a whim.

But these principles stuck. I still think of the things I can do away with and I want to implement this while my guy is away in the mornings. I want to go back through everything. Every single box. I want to hold every item in my hands and ask myself ‘does this spark joy’? I want to try on every piece of clothing and gauge my reaction.

I want to look at all these boxes of old letters and journals and find a decent way to store them. Something beyond the tattered brown boxes I’ve been keeping them in. I want to take a more design approach to my apartment. I want to be proud of the home I live in while also making is safe for a growing toddler who can grab and pull things down (and climb the stairs, her recent favorite).

I want to live with even less clutter and in enduring the coronavirus, I have renewed my passion to do this. I’ve discovered what true minimalism means to me. I’m ready.  


Good Readdance,
Jade 

Books on Minimalism, Meditation, and Mindset

Heya,

Because I’m a reader, above all else, I just knew that I had to share my list of books to help me dig deeper into Minimalism, Meditation, and Mindset. I usually lead a busy life due to school and Naomi and so lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the books through Overdrive.

Overdrive is an app (don’t worry, it can still be used through browser) that syncs to your library account. It is completely free. You can either get audio books to download or listen in browser, or you can get the eBook. It’s absolutely fantastic for when you need to be hands free – like when holding a baby or on your commute to work or school. Otherwise, the library is a great way to save money and space should books be an aspect you are minimizing.

If you’ve read any of these let me know! Also, if you have some great books about these topics, put them in the comments. I’d love to check them out!

That’s where this list came from! 

FYI: I’ll be adding to this list as I go and I’ll put a big fat X next to the ones I’ve completed. Check the KEY at the end. I hope to write short reviews of these books as well. 

Fingers crossed! 

Books on Minimalism: 

XThe Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker
XThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (Manga or Book version)

XThe Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

X — Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

XThe More of Less by Joshua Becker

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

C — Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Books on Meditation: 

X Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris — A 10% Happier How-To Book
X10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story by Dan Harris

 

Books on Mindset:

CThe Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

How to Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen

DNF — The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Adulting: How to Become A Grown-Up in 535 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

C The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell

Authors Suggested to Me:
Colin Wright
Courtney Carver
Leo Babauta
Joshua Becker

Good Readdance,
Jade

KEY:

X: Finished

DNF: Did Not Finish

C: Currently Reading/Listening

* From a newbie to other newbies! *