The Clash Of Being Both A Minimalist And Bibliophile

by Carol

A minimalist keeps possessions to a minimal. A bibliophile is a book collector. I’m both. How do I deal with this clash? Well, it’s not an easy manoeuvre to get through. I’ve had my fair share of going in each direction, and coming up short of a satisfactory solution.

All things considered, I think I love books more than any other kind of material things. And I believe I can never have too many of them. Which is why my bookshelves are housing hundreds of books, even till now. I have let go of hundreds of them in recent years, yet more new ones get added on as well.

Some days, I come to the conclusion that maybe I should exclude books in my minimalist journey. But there are also days when I think I can do with less. It’s a constant tug of war.

So I’ve tried a few things out to see where I truly stand and right now I’m quite comfortable with what I’ve done.

Using A Kindle Device

Since 2009, I’ve been using an e-reader device. Some of them didn’t work well for me and I’ve owned a few over the years, trying to find a good fit. It was only in 2019 that I found one that I am truly comfortable with and will continue to stick to.

Since having my Kindle Paperwhite, I have bought less physical books. Ebooks are also mostly cheaper than physical books, so I’ve saved quite a lot of money too. Of course, the device itself is an investment in itself, but the much cheaper cost of ebooks compared to physical books have more than made up for it.

Borrowing Books From The Library

I have begun borrowing more books than buying them. Both physical and ebooks are available from some of my libraries. This has been an even bigger money-saver since I don’t even need to buy ebooks. Some of these libraries allow the ebooks I borrow to be read on my Kindle, which is most ideal for me.

By borrowing books, I also don’t need to own ebooks of my own. I would only decide to buy ebooks or even physical ones if I feel that it’s a book I would want to read again, or a book I worth handing down to someone else.

I have never appreciated libraries the way I do now. Especially during these difficult times when the whole world is going through a pandemic crisis. Libraries have been one of the things that have given me much solace for all the books I want to read to fill my time and mind.

Buying Pre-loved Books

I began buying used books instead of new ones. Yes it doesn’t help to reduce clutter, but I have my reasons for buying them. For one thing, I’m more susceptible to the idea of giving them away or selling them off once I’ve finished reading them. Used books cost a lot less, so I’m more willing to part with them since I did not spend a great deal on them. I could also sell them off more easily without losing a huge amount compared to selling off a full-priced book at a much reduced price.

This helps to keep books off my shelves and has helped to keep my shelves decluttered.

Still Open To More Ways

Just by doing the above three, I have kept my book purchase habits down and maintaining a more manageable shelf of books that I could actually finish reading. Before, I had a whole lot of books that I lost interest in but still kept them on the shelves. As I let more and more books go, it has gotten easier to do so. I believe I can do with less now, and have a stronger motivation to let some go once I’m finished with them.

It wouldn’t be the end of me trying to reduce books on my shelves. I could be a more niche bibliophile and would only want to collect a smaller selection of books that really matter. One other option that I’m thinking of is book rental services. I also have this hope of starting a little neighbourhood library or book exchange where we put out books in my neighbourhood to let neighbours pick up some books.

As my life changes, the kind of books I want to read also tend to change. I’ve changed the genre of books I have many times over, and by doing that I have gotten rid of many that I feel don’t serve me anymore. Who knows, one or two years down the road, I might have a big change of heart again and most of my current books may end of leaving my shelves.

For now, I’m happy to continue with the way books are coming and going in my life. And accepting that it’s OK if once in a while I indulge and have a slightly bigger library than intended. After all, I do live to read and read to live, to a big extent!

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