If You Love Something, Let It Go
I have always been an emotional shopper. I would feel sad about something and want to walk around the mall and get something nice as a pick me up. Or I would feel happy about an achievement or accomplishment of some kind, and want to reward myself with something nice.
A few years ago, I decided to be better about it. I didn't want to be so tied to material things. I would like to think that I was interested in minimalism before it became trendy, but it was really about improving how I spend my money.
So I took inventory of my life. I realized that I didn't need anymore shoes, jewelry, or make up. So I told myself I am no longer allowed to spend money on those things, unless I run out of foundation for example.
You know what else I probably didn't need more of?
But you see, in my head, books are an investment in my personal growth, and knowledge. It's a noble expenditure, right?
This didn't change the fact that I was being wasteful. That I had stacks of books I purchased, still unread, some never to be read, while I continued to buy more books.
Growing up, I used to love going to the library. I'm still so fond of my childhood library despite having moved a couple of times. But somewhere along the road, it became really important for me to possess books. And given the number of books I purchased versus read, you could get the impression that owning them became more important than reading them.
Luckily, a work friend told me about paperbackswap.com, and I decided that I would no longer hoard books, but pass them on to other readers who were eager to devour these stories. I also decided that I would no longer purchase books if I could help it, but instead trade them.
Signing up for paperbackswap forced me to do two things.
1. Decide which of the books I had read were actually important to me, and I would want to keep.
2. Decide which of the books I purchased I was actually never going to read.
The way the site works is you get credits for mailing a book to a reader who has requested one of your books, and you can use credits to order books from other readers. Pretty simple system! I have on average 30 credits on the site, from having gotten rid of so many books. I also use the wish list feature to wait in line for books that may be particularly popular on the site, including new releases.
I would start to get really excited about sending books to other readers. I imagined that by sending out these books I was making someone's day. There's one message in particular I remember, where a grandmother thanked me for sending a book she planned on giving her grandson. He really liked almanacs and she was excited to give him the one I mailed to her.
Slowly I got past my need to posses books. Don't get me wrong, there are certain books that are special to me and I will always have a space for them on my shelf. But I became much more mindful of how much I was spending on books.
Fast forward a few years, and I frequent the library again. I'm reading more, and I'm truly enjoying it. My love of books is again what it used to be. It's about the love of stories, instead of the some material showcase where I try and prove my bookworm status by buying it.