The KonMari Method — Books (Round 2)

Ah, books. I have such a love affair with them. If you want to make me happy, give me a comfortable chair and a good book and don’t you fucking dare disturb me for several hours. So with that in mind, did I manage to declutter any of them at all? Well let’s just say that this was like the anti-KonMari of categories — very much the odd-one-out for me.


OK OK, let’s say a little more…

The KonMari Method is generally about minimalism and decluttering and learning to live with less. I’ve said several times that it's shown me how little I actually need, but I’ve also discussed how you can still be a minimalist while owning lots of stuff, as long as it truly makes you happy.

Well books truly make me happy.

The KonMari Method -- Books -- ROUND ONE (2015)

When I came to tackle this category the first time around, about a year ago now, I started with 66 books (including magazines) and finished with 31.

​I had a horrendous time tryna get rid of the excess. Like clothes, they hung around for several months because I couldn't really figure out what to do with them I procrastinated my arse off. The local charity shop wasn't taking extra books at the time, and the place that bought second-hand books was the other side of the city. I eventually sucked it up and made the trip but, for all I gained, it wasn't really worth it. If I'm honest, what I couldn't sell ended up in the recycling bin.

I know, I know, it's horrifying. And yes, it broke my heart a little.

(I love those little free libraries where people just pop along and take a book, then either return it or replace it, but they're not allowed in our area. Maybe I'll set one up after we move...)

The KonMari Method -- Books -- ROUND TWO (2016)


The only challenge I faced with this category was that, before, during and after, all I wanted to do was curl up with each book for hours.

The process (with pics):

This year, I started with 96 books! It’s the only category I’ve actually added to and, in all honesty, want to continue to add to. (Does that mean I’ll get kicked out of the KonMari Klub?)

By the by, can we take a moment to appreciate that books can be quickly taken out and put back without needing to be unfolded and then folded again?

I know the KonMari Method is all about surrounding yourself with things that spark joy, but it’s generally accepted and understood that you’ll do that by significantly reducing your belongings. For me, eliminating all the clutter from other categories has rekindled my love for this category. By chucking the rest of the rubbish in my life, I’ve made more space for something I really love — reading.

With that in mind, you’d think I’d find this category particularly difficult and time-consuming to go through. Nope. Only about 5 minutes to gather them all together, another 5 to go through them, and then 10 to put them back. Quickest category ever! Probably because most of them were just instant joy-sparkers so there wasn’t much humming and hawing to be done.

I also think it has a lot to do with the order the categories are done in — Marie Kondo starts with the items that are much more widely available. When we know something can be easily replaced, it makes the job of decluttering that bit less daunting. As far as I know, there are only 3 books in my collection that are irreplaceable — 1 is out of print, and the other 2 could be bought again but it’s that particular copy that’s irreplaceable, like the copy of “The BFG” that my mother found on the side of the road when I was very young and brought home for me. Sure, I could go out and buy another copy of the book (and, in fact, I have, for my daughter), but that particular one sparks the most joy for me because of the memories.

The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pictures, from a bookworm. ;)

It also helps massively that my mother is a librarian, so most of the books I read are only borrowed.

Still, I ended up being able to part with 13 of them. Not a huge amount but, for a book nerd? Enough.

The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pics, from a bookworm. ;)

So I started over a year ago with 66 books and now, after 2 rounds of decluttering, I have 83.

It’s like one of those magic roads where everything moves backwards and water runs uphill.

And Marie Kondo is a hoarder with a Monica closet.

The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pics, from a bookworm. ;)

So what did I learn from Round Two?

It's OK to love stuff and to have loads of it.

Like I said, this category was a bit of an anomaly. Since becoming a stay-at-home mother, but also trying to build a business around this blog, my life has become a lot more "full" and I've either neglected or just plain forgotten about previous passions. When I tackled this category last year, I made a conscious decision to make more time for reading. And I have.

This year, that passion has been solidified as something that is essential to my being.​

At first, I found it odd that, in all my subtracting, I had also started adding. But, when I look at what's left and how much joy it sparks in me, I realise that, every once in a while, more is more.​ Sometimes, despite what Marie Kondo says, it's better to accumulate than to declutter.​

Below is the video I made on the process, which you can watch if you so wish. It's pretty much the same as what I've talked about above, but you'll also get to see a timelapse of me actually completing the category, and I answer one of the questions I've been getting about the books category, which is:

  • How should you proceed if books are your "thing"?

Now how about one last look at those 'before' and 'after' pics, eh?


The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pics, from a bookworm. ;)
The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pics, from a bookworm. ;)
The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pics, from a bookworm. ;)

Look at all those lovely worlds I've been lost in!

Have you come across a category where you wanted to go against the grain and actually accumulate MORE of the stuff? Let me know what it was in the comments below.

The KonMari Method -- Books. Before and after pics, from a bookworm. ;) And a free KonMari Checklist PDF. So handy!
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  1. I also had a really hard time with books. I started with several times more than 83, and while I shed probably 5 boxes, it was a small fraction of our library. Most of the reason is like yours, but also, I didn’t purge anything that belonged to someone else, and with 3 kids and a husband who is a PhD, and won’t get rid of textbooks, I did the best I could. I did organize them, and out all of my books in one place. I also kept books I haven’t read yet, because I do and will read them. We like books and derive pleasure from owning them. We have bookcases in nearly every room, and I’m ok with that.
    I had an especially really hard time with kids books, as we had a terrific library and spent many hours reading the best ones again and again. Instead of getting rid of them, I took them out of the boxes and put them back on shelves in my craft room to honor them. I even stop and read them when I need inspiration.
    I agree with you that books are part of who our family is, and I for one do not want to live without them. Sure, I could get rid of them, but don’t want to.
    I have paired doan our magazine subscriptions, which is good.

    • Sounds like books bring you a lot of joy. =) I think as long as you keep on top of your collection, particularly when you finish reading a book so that, instead of automatically putting it back on a shelf, you consider whether or not you really want to keep it, you should be fine. =)

  2. Oh, how difficult it all is! Both my man & myself have a problem with getting rid of books, we are both English graduates and readers from babyhood, with 10 bookcases of real books…..the times we put them in a box to take to the charity shop,& then sneak’em back. We have the added hazard of having to keep them in the house until we go to U.K.(we live in France, where charity shops don’t operate , not near us in a
    rural area-and who wants our stuff anyway? We tried the 1 in 2 out method, it didn’t work and despite lots of books going, we still have far too many. I am convinced it is a psychological condition! If anyone can offer help I particullarly will be very very grateful. I reckon my husband has an unacknowledged aquisitive behaviour problem……not me,of course. I’m keeping completely out of date practical books ‘in case’.After all, I’m only in my late seventies-and hey,you never know.Happy reading,everyone!

    • Goodness, that’s quite the pickle. Are you familiar with Swedish death cleaning? I wrote a post on it recently: Essentially, it’s about recognising the reality that, after you’re gone, someone else will be tasked with going through all your belongings. Letting go of things is hard, but when you think that a loved one will bear the burden of going through each and every one of your items, it sometimes makes it easier. So, would all your books be a blessing or a burden?

      Switching to eBooks or just making use of a local library should help stem the flow of incoming books. After that, start small. Get rid of any duplicates you have, or some of those out-of-date practical books. All that (up-to-date) information is readily available online. Ask yourself if you’ll ever read it again. If not, it’s safe to let it go. Little by little, you’ll make inroads. =)

      I hope that helps. x

  3. “Sometimes, despite what Marie Kondo says, it’s better to accumulate than to declutter.​”

    Well, I think it’s significant (and deliberate) that Kondo uses the word “tidying” rather than “decluttering”. Although for most of us the KonMari method means disposing of a LOT of stuff we don’t want or need any more, this isn’t always the case. The thing is to possess only the items we love and need, and to keep them in order so we can find them! If that means we have more room and can acquire more of what we love, well… OK, I’d interrogate that just a bit… but if we’re buying things we really adore and it’s not just re-bloating, then why not?

    I’m still working through the last of the clothes phase, but I’m dreading the next chapter (ha ha) because I have masses of books. So. Very. Many! Most of them will go out the door, I’m sure, but I do have a lot of books that are rare or special-interest and would be hard to replace (looking at you, the extremely adorable _Eastern Chipmunks: Secrets of Their Solitary Lives_).

    So for me the question is always: do I reread this regularly? Keep it. Is it extra precious because of sentimental reasons? (fortunately, not many of these) Keep it. Is it such a rare and interesting book that I could never replace it? THINK about keeping it. But if it’s something I can easily borrow, or snarfle as an e-book: out it goes. (This is why I own so few hard-copy novels!)

    That said, part of my home vision is to create a dedicated reading nook, so there will always be a place for well-loved volumes 🙂

    • Really interesting thoughts on the use of the word “tidying”. I think you’re right, it’s not just about decluttering.

      Like you, I have very few books left anymore. But I always keep some special ones on hand. =)

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