Owning very many unread books does not spark joy.
At least not anymore.
There. I said it.
If you are short on shelf space like I am, you will understand the constant need for arranging, re-arranging and dusting that it is required to maintain an IG-worthy semblance of a bookshelf.
Don’t get me even started on those piling fancy cookbooks that require exotic ingredients that are not even available at Marikiti market and which you hope to find at organic farmers’ market. Someday. That will never happen.
Part of accepting that you don’t have to know it all means that you are less likely to purchase books for the sake of the showing off the next time you have friends over for potluck dinners or afternoon hangouts. Instead, you get the opportunity to delve into deeper conversations on what their passions, ambitions, (dis-)likes are and how you can be an asset to them.
You recognise that some schools, libraries and foundations may require the books that you are hoarding as valuable resources. Since you have access to Google and Siri, you can easily access definitions so you can let go of the dictionaries and Kamusis so that the kids in your hometown/shags (what-you-may-call-it) may be able to improve their grammar since the government is slow in delivering its promises.
Maybe you should hold on to the Kamusi, especially if you have to brush up on your Kiswahili.
You may try rationalising that bookshops are magical places where you go treasure hunting and to spark your imagination especially after watching a gazillion book hauls.
I know. I know.
I have been done that and with several t-shirts and several dents in my monthly budgets to prove it. Mainly because I love owning my books and being able to annotate them.
Looking back, I remember Jess C Lively sharing in one of her past podcasts an “ahaa!” she experienced while she was visiting Edinburgh, Scotland and living out of a suitcase. It dawned on her that just because she loves beautiful things (she has great taste), does not mean that she has to own them. She can appreciate them for what they are and move on.
Sometimes it is also about trusting that the knowledge that you have acquired so far is adequate to take you to the next level, then you will be able to pick up more knowledge and more books for the (life and career) challenges that you will need ahead.
You may be a hardcore-hardcopy-kinda-gal like me and think that all this debate about hardcopy vs ebooks vs audiobooks debate is all fluff. However, when those TBR shelves of shame keep glaring at you every evening after a long day at the office, you will remember me and this blog post. 2017 was my turning point. I was ‘clicker-happy’ with accepting Netgalley requests and the opportunities of reviewing them before the rest of the world.
Then life happened and I fell behind.
I harboured guilt over let down publishers and authors. Anxiety got the better of me. When I finally set my mind, time and effort to reviewing the e-ARCs (as you may have noticed from my posts lately), I appreciated the fact that I did not have to physically own the books that I didn’t enjoy.
Hallelujah! More Shelf Space!
Let us leave audiobooks for another day. Those are another set of animals that I am not sure how to tackle and I will leave that to be handled shortly in 2018.
All I know for sure (at least in 2017), is that to sustain one’s love for reading it is important not to spend your Sunday deciding whether to arrange your 500+ books according to author, colour, title when you have not read even 20 percent of them.