This post was originally posted on my book blog Lauren Reads YA in March 2016.
‘BookTube’ and ‘Bookstagram’ has made some significant changes in the way we — bloggers, readers, Goodreads users, BookTubers, etc. — think about our books. The book blogging community that existed before BookTube was a thing didn’t have this problem, because book blogging seems to be more focused on the inside of a book rather than the outside, whereas BookTube is very much about showing off your books and filming book hauls in front of your enormous bookshelves and all that. That’s partly, of course, because it’s such a visual medium, and you want to have something to show that is not just a book cover taken off Google Images.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a book blogger, and what you really need to be a book blogger. As you have probably noticed, my blog is very visual, because I lose concentration quickly and I need images to keep myself focused. My first reviews from back in 2012 were just text and a book cover. Since then, I’ve added things like rating star images, reaction GIFs, and what we like to call ‘book photography’ here on Tumblr. High quality photos of our physical books with a beautiful depth of field and usually some blurry colourful bookshelves in the background. Book photography quickly became one of my Things here on the blog. Personally, when I’m reading reviews and trying to figure out whether I want to buy a book or not, I’d love to see some photos of what certain editions look like in real life, to really be able to make a wise decision when buying it. And of course, piles of books are just the prettiest thing ever. It’s better than framed artwork: it’s a combination of design, sometimes illustrations or photography, of course the story inside, and the way the book was produced (think coloured or deckled edges, naked hardcover designs, book cover finishes in all their variety).
But, as some of you know, I’ve been on a journey towards a more minimalist lifestyle. I’ve been getting rid of clothes, childhood & high school mementos, decorations, DVDs, even furniture. I hadn’t encountered any true struggles… until I started feeling slightly uncomfortable about my book collection.
When I started decluttering, I told myself my books weren’t going to suffer from my minimalist lifestyle, because they bring me joy. And they do! But more as a collection rather than the books as individual items. And I wonder if that’s good enough. Sometimes I look at my shelves, and a particular book stands out to me, and I think about the book and how it was just okay. Why am I keeping it? Just to keep the bookshelves full, to keep them pretty. I’m pretty sure that if I only kept the books that sparked joy, as Marie Kondo would like me to do it, they would only fill one (maybe two) of my three IKEA Billy shelves. And that would just be weird. Because what am I without my giant book collection on these three massive shelves? Do I have enough books to even be a ‘good book blogger’? And HOW did these stupid thoughts get their way into my brain, when I thought I was better and stronger than that?!
So I decided to challenge myself. I was going to trial-Konmari my books, which meant I was going to hold each and every one of them in my hands, decided if they sparked joy, and made piles of what I would keep and discard. And most importantly, which books would make it into my future tiny house? Trial because I didn’t want to declutter my books for real, in one go, because I’m still not sure where I stand on book collecting.
The outcome was that I put up about half of my book collection for sale online. Until they’re sold, or traded at book events, they’ll remain on my shelf looking pretty with the rest of the collection. But if I do get that e-mail that someone wants to buy a book, that’s cool and I can let go of it. I don’t know yet what to do with buying new physical copies, but when I do, I’ll let you know. For now I’m getting mostly e-books instead.
If you have a big book collection — whether that’s big according to BookTube standards or big for you — imagine this: a bookshelf with just your favourite books. Your 4 and 5-star books. The books that taught you something important, the ones that remind you of an important time in your life. Wouldn’t it just make you feel so happy to see that every day, instead of a wall of bookshelves that are all filled with mostly ‘just okay’ books?