There’s a common bookish saying “there’s no such thing as too many books” and I used to live by it. Used to. Why? Living in a small apartment and allocating certain spaces for books makes it hard to live by that statement because I am drowning in too many books! And whilst I love having too many books I can’t maintain owning too many books in my home!
First, let’s define “clutter”:
“Clutter” is defined to be a collection of many objects that are in a state of disorder (REF). Therefore, in regards to books, would “book clutter” be the state of having many messy book piles? Or am I just messy? Where’s the line between book clutter and not book clutter? Before joining Bookstagram, Book blogging, and BookTok, I was quite messy with my bookshelves and hardly ever organised my book spaces. Would that space count as book clutter?
I want to differentiate “owning a messy book pile” from “book declutter”. As a book lover, there is a difference.
When does a book pile become “book clutter”?
Defining “book clutter”:
In this case, I refer the term “book clutter” to be the state where one owns books to the point of chaos, more specifically, when books take up too much of your physical space and/or mental space in a negative manner.
What counts as book clutter?
- Books that no longer serve their purpose for you (no longer useful/needed, damaged, etc.)
- Books that have no emotional connection to you and can be easily replaced or removed from your collection
- When owning certain books give you anxiety or stress
Why should I declutter my books?
There are numerous benefits of decluttering books. Some benefits include the following:
Benefits of decluttering:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Studies noted a link between clutter and increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Therefore, there’s a possibility that greater clutter can lead to greater stress.
However, it’s also important to note that untidy environments are necessarily a bad thing. Research found that sometimes untidy environments can promote creativeness and innovation.
Different people have different perceptions of what clutter is. I find that it’s important to be aware of your own needs and wants in regards to your space and home. Having a sweet balance between untidy and order is important.
Help cleanse your mind
Building upon the previous point, a cluttered space can lead to a cluttered mind and can feel overwhelming when faced to address it. With less mental clutter to distract or occupy your time and energy, you can instead focus it on things that serve you purpose or bring you joy.
Simplify your living
By decluttering you can simplify your living, meaning living simply can result in being more accessible to your belongings, possessing less, and creating more space.
Clearing book clutter means less stuff and therefore less stuff to maintain and manage, and as a result, can give you more control in your life.
Sometimes it’s not practical owning mountains of unfinished, unread, and/or unloved books everywhere. Decluttering books can create more space. The positive aspect of creating more space enables you to curate and refine your bookshelf with books you really love and want.
Boost productivity and creativity
Clearing clutter can help with your focus by removing external stimuli, lessening visual distractions, and reducing decision fatigue.
Potentially save money
During and/or after the decluttering process can help you realise your spending habits and therefore adjust accordingly. You may be spending unnecessarily and realise that after seeing how many books you have accumulated versus how many of those books you’ve actually read. Decluttering can help you be more mindful of purchases.
Furthermore, you could potentially make money whilst decluttering by selling books.
Improve your health
Clearing your space can also lessen the dust and allergens in your space and therefore improve the overall air quality in the house.
Practising gratitude and mindfulness
Decluttering can be seen as a form of self-care. With less focus on the stuff, you can use your time on things that truly matter to you—ensuring your lifestyle is aligned with your values and priorities. Removing the unnecessary items in your life can give you more freedom and you may appreciate more of what you have (practising gratitude).
Again, I want to highlight that it is important to identify your own definition of clutter and your own wants and needs regarding your space. What May work for me may not work for someone else.
Anyway, I hope this post helps you with your journey of book decluttering or at least serves you with some information.
I write this post to help identify “book clutter” in my life and emphasis the benefits of decluttering so I can move it and declutter my space.
Do you declutter your books? Or, do you have any tips?
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- Roster, C. A., Ferrari, J. R., & Jurkat, M. P. (2016). The dark side of home: Assessing possession ‘clutter’ on subjective well-being. The Journal of Environmental Psychology, 46, pp. 32—41. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494416300159
- Roster, C. A. & Ferrari, J. R. (2020). Does work stress lead to office clutter, and how? Mediating influences of emotional exhaustaion and indecision. North American Journal of Psychology, 22, 3, pp. 441—454. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518823041
- Ouellette, L. (2019). Spark Joy? Compulsory Happiness and the Feminist Politics of Decluttering. Culture Unbound, 11,3–4, pp. 534—550. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3384/cu.2000.1525.191108
- Burgess, A., Frost, R. O., Marani, C., Gabrielson, I. (2018). Imperfection, indecision, and hoarding. Current Psychology, 37, 445–453. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12144-017-9695-4