I am decluttering. Clutter blocks the flow of creativity and I am setting up my new space for optimum creative growth. I have started with my books. In spite of regularly culling them over the years, I have enough books for a small bookshop. It’s not easy. I am one of those people; there are many of us, who finds it really hard to let go of books. But I am doing it.
I have followed best selling decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s instructions and placed every book I have in the middle of the floor and held each one in my hands. The books that generated a strong level of joy and delight, like One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Little Prince are now in the bookcase. The ones that didn’t, like The Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory, or The Great Transformation – the Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, are next to me in a box and tomorrow they will be driven to the Margaret River public library.
However, despite Kondo’s insistence that we do not read them I have decided to capture one quote from some of the books I am giving away; words that have touched me; left an impression. I am saying goodbye to them by honouring them in a small way. They are in no particular order.
1. “Wake up and smell the possibility…” Alice Walker (The World has Changed)
2. “I had the brief notion that his heart, pressed flat as a flower crimson and this as tissue paper, lay in this file. It was a very thin one.” Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber)
3. How do you let go of attachment to things? Don’t even try. It is impossible. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them.” Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth)
4. The issues most commonly identified are: male control of women’s labour; women’s restricted access to valued social and economic resources and political power, and as a result a very unequal distribution of resources between the genders: make violence; and control of sexuality. Kate Young (The Women, Gender & Development Reader)
5. “It was a complete spiritual, sexual experience. I suddenly realised that in denying my sexuality, I had also denied my spirituality, and I began having a total spiritual rebirth” Jalaja Bonheim (Aphrodite’s Daughters)
6. “If you want to understand any woman, you must first ask her about her mother and then listen carefully” Anita Diamant (The Red Tent)
7. “There appear, therefore, to be two voices within Islam, and two competing understandings of gender, one expressed in pragmatic regulations for society… the other in an articulation of an ethical vision.” Leila Ahmed (Women and Gender in Islam)
8. “…the value of the labour of raising a child – always low relative to the value of labour – has, under the impact of globalization, sunk lower still. Children matter to their parents immeasurably, of course, but the labour of raising them does not ear much credit in the eyes of the world.” Arlie Russell Hochschild (Global Woman – Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy)
9. “In the end we’ll all become stories.” Margaret Atwood (Moral Disorder)
10. “All of women’s aspirations – whether for education, work or any form of self-determination – ultimately rest on their ability to decide whether and when to bear children” Susan Faludi (Backlash)
11. “It would be churlish to decry the fashionability of human rights, but premature to think that this means the struggle to have them enforced …has in any sense been won” Geoffrey Robertson QC (Crimes Against Humanity)
12. “She had loved him, uselessly” Margaret Atwood (Wilderness Tips)
13. Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver)
14. I’ll hate you women… Some say that I talk of this eternally, yes, but eternal too is woman’s wickedness” Euripides (Hippolytus)
15. If you believe that the world is an unequal place and that the rich should do more to help the poor, then freer international migrations should be the next front in the battle for global economic justice” Philippe Legrain (Immigrants – Your Country Needs Them)
16. “Ode – A lyric poem, usually of some length” Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
17. “From the moment they’re recruited to the time they are ‘rescued’and deported, trafficked women are terrorized” Victor Malarek (The Natashas)
18. “…blame is still not placed on American consumers, but on the foreign supplies who grow the stuff. In America, there are no villains – only victims” Dominic Streatfeild (Cocaine)
19. “ I don’t think anyone out of the business realises…just how fragile movies are, how even the greatest successes run, at least for a while, neck and neck with failure” William Goldman (Which Lie Did I Tell?)
20. “Let humanity be the other name for religion” Taslima Nasrin (Lajja – Shame)
21. “The selfish gladly consoled themselves with the thought that though it was merciful at least it was not liberal” Karl Polanyi (The Great Transformation)
22. “The more one knows fairy tales the less fantastical they appear; they can be vehicles for the grimmest realism, expressing hope against all odds with gritted teeth” Marina Warner (From the Beast To the Blonde)
23. “Brass shines with constant usage, a beautiful dress needs wearing. Leave a house empty, it rots” Ovid (The Erotic Poems)
24. “The universe doesn’t allow perfection” Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time)
25. “The journey is not linear, it is always back and forth, denying the calendar, the wrinkles and lines of the body” Jeanette Winterson (Sexing the Cherry)
There are many more. Enough to write pages and pages of quotes, but I won’t. The whole point is to declutter and make space for creativity now, not get bogged down in books whose words meant something in the past or that might mean something in years ahead. As Kondo puts it, if we can’t discard anything that does not ‘spark joy’ then we are either attached to the past or anxious about the future, and perhaps that is something to examine.
I always feel great when I let go of books, this time I have been more radical than usual and it feels great. What is your experience of letting go of books? What's your approach?