I want books to fix my life

Long, long ago, when I first started this blog, I talked about Aspirational Clutter, the term given by Colleen at 365 Less Things to describe “items that you aspire to using one day but one day never seems to come.” She gives some excellent direction on how to deal with these things:

My first advice is don’t be too hard on yourself and also don’t ever let this situation deter you from aspiring to other dreams in the future. My second piece of advice is to make a calculated choice as to what unsettles you the most, the thought of decluttering these items or thought of continuing to live with them cluttering up your home. What is greater, the chance that you are never going to use them or the chance that you are going to regret getting rid of them?

I’ve used that wisdom to release many hobby items, though not nearly as many as I should, since my craft room is still unbelievably cluttered. Now, however, I have to use the same mindset to attack my greatest clutter enemy.

BOOKS. Yep, it’s time to get brutally honest with myself about my books.

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Many people own books. For that matter, many people hoard them. But I’d bet a large percentage of those people keep books they love, books they enjoy, books they want to read again and again.

I have some of those books, definitely. Those, however, are not the ones that are overtaking my home.

You see, most of my books are Aspirational Clutter. I buy self-help books by the armload, all because I want them to fix whatever I see as a problem in my life. The real problem? I don’t want to get rid of the book if the original difficulty still remains… which it often does.

Do the books not work? No, it would be more accurate to say that I don’t work. Apparently, in some little corner of my mind, I hope that just buying the book will do one of the following:

  • Inspire me to read it;
  • Motivate me to act on it; or
  • Impart its wisdom to me through osmosis.

What happens, instead, is that the book is brought home and set in a “To Read” pile beside my bed, where I page through it every so often and where it remains until the pile gets too big and all the books are shelved. Thus, the problem remains, which leads me to believe that I should buy yet another book pushing yet another scheme, technique or breakthrough. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The other day, Quinland suggested I get rid of all my parenting books. Her rationale: I wasn’t using the books anyway, and since she is no longer a little kid, my opportunity to “parent” her has pretty much come and gone. I do plan on parenting her for a few more years, but in many ways she is right. I should let go of the books that are not age appropriate.

Why was I hanging on to those books, anyway? Nostalgia? No, I really think that they represented the way I had wanted to parent, the fun things I wish we had done together, the structure I wish I had been able to provide.

When it comes right down to it, though, did I actually need those books? Perhaps. Perhaps I gleaned some tidbit from them at the store when I looked through them and decided to buy, or in my bed when I looked through them again. Some I may have even read more thoroughly along the way.

Then again, perhaps my wonderful, funny, loving, confident daughter has never needed me to  find any wisdom in books. Perhaps just loving her and parenting her the way we have, to the best of our abilities, has been enough.

If so, what does that say about all the other books? The ones about simplifying, organizing, and decluttering? The ones about exercise, nutrition, and yoga? The devotionals and prayerbooks? The guides to success and money management and veganism and conscious living? Is it possible that I don’t need them? Is it possible that just being myself and doing the best I can is enough?

That would sure fix a lot of problems.

Whew! Do you buy books to solve your problems? How many do you buy? How many do you keep? Do you read them? Do they help? Talk to me here. I need to feel that I am not alone.

10 thoughts on “I want books to fix my life

  1. Oh my goodness, yes, yes, yes!! Can totally relate to this post. Have so many books and most of them self-help type. We are looking to add two huge bookcases to one of our rooms and I was just asking my dear hubby, “do we even want to keep half the books we have?” Some, I think, are just hard to let go of because we “might need them someday”….I love what you wrote, that your daughter doesn’t need you to find wisdom in parenting books – just loving her has been enough. Amen to that! There are a few that I read over and over and have written in and dog-eared, but most of the books on our shelves (we literally have hundreds of books in our home) could be blessed and released…hmmm, something to consider as I’m decluttering this year.

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    1. Bless and release! I love it – it reminds me of “catch and release” with fish. I need to think of books as little fish that I am sending back out into the stream to bless someone else. 😉

      Good job on thinking about letting go of half your books. We did that a few years ago – hard to believe, huh!? – and it was amazing how much better it felt.

      xo,
      Lori

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  2. Hey Lori. Regarding getting rid of clutter, do not sweat the small stuff + lighten up about de-cluttering 🙂 i read somewhere that clutter is in + minimalism is out. So, you are trendy 🙂 but aim to organise your clutter ie books, or 19th century hammers, according to a particular theme. Our homes are to be lived in and the thinking is living museums or alive art galleries in our homes. I avoid buying self help books, but i do re-read books from psychology + religion categories. Classics like jane austen, i also re-read. Maybe buy one book at a time … Also, according to recent research, those with clutter, tend to be more warm, fun to be around etc. Who would want to go on holidays with monica from friends? 😉 lol

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    1. I wish I had the discipline to not buy self-help books! You are an inspiration to me. Thanks, too, for always reminding me that I need to lighten up about my lightening up. 😉 Why do I take the whole thing so seriously? I get so bogged down into the whys and wherefores of my cluttering, instead of just relaxing and seeing it as a stage I was in, and one which I am slowly growing out of… emphasis on the “growing” as well as the “slowly!”

      You’ll have to tell me – is it more fun to go on holidays with me, or Monica from Friends?

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  3. I think that we will get rid of some clutter, when we have the right relationship energy + it’s the right time for us to let go of that stuff. All will be well 🙂 and yeah, somebody read my blog recently 🙂 any insights into the questions i asked in facebook about blog posts, those answers would be appreciated, when the time is right for you to do so 🙂

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    1. Oooh – you are right! I owe you blog answers! I will make it a point to get back to you as soon as I can. Am a bit slow today as I managed to mix up medications and basically overdose last weekend. Yikes…

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  4. Maybe consider whether you and your family want to participate in the big brother programme, before you decide which books you want to get rid of … Shall now return to my re-reading of Spiritual Autobiography of Dalai Lama. Goodnight 🙂

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  5. You are way more fun and a lot more relaxed than monica, great craic to spend time with! In the slang of teenagers, you are legend, (irish teens) + awesome. Read the book for a while. Dalai Lama spoke about the importance of laughter + a sense of playfulness, in our daily lives. Had hot chocolate + then meditated. During my meditation, fell asleep on sofa, so going to bed now.

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