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Monday, February 9, 2015


Emily M. at Ravenna has been ruminating pretty hard on de-cluttering lately. Here are her thoughts:

I grew up with a ridiculous amount of stuff. But somewhere in grad school, I began wonder why do I have all this stuff if I am not using it? -- especially when I was about to move across the country again. Long story short, it was a process but I have found minimalism unexpectedly freeing.

A hard item for me to let go of is books. If I had kept every book I was given, acquired, or bought, I would have well over 3,000 -- and these are all books that I like, mind you, not throw-aways! In the end, I kept the books I knew I would want to reread every few years and a few reference books. Despite the fact that books are my life, I have pared them down to under a hundred. (Yes, it is possible.)

So, how did I do it? The books below helped a lot, but for the most part, I came to realize that a book is only awesome if it's read. If it just sits there for twenty years unopened on a shelf it is almost, disrespectful to the book. A book is meant to be read. 

What are the best titles for the aspiring simplifier/minimalist? 
Our number one seller is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo 
Many of us on staff have read it and have used Marie Kondo's advice -- on what books to keep or sell back. Some of her methods, I've never heard before (and I have read many, many blogs and articles on simplifying and decluttering). Her main philosophy is, if it does not give you joy then get rid of it. Though she may be crazy and a bit obsessed (it's one thing to have gratitude toward your possessions and another to verbalize it to them every day), she gives some great, thoughtful advice. http://www.thirdplacebooks.com/book/9781607747307 

The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay gives minimalism a more realistic approach. From the cluttered closet to the overbooked schedule, Jay lays out that neccesities are going to change from person to person and from season to season. Nevertheless, if you aren't using an item on a regular basis or might use someday, then you probably don't need it hanging around; the hard part is finding the courage to let it go. http://www.thirdplacebooks.com/book/9780984087310 

Tiny Homes Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn  and Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet by Ryan Mitchell are more for people who want to live in tiny homes (as in, they have already simplified to the extreme). But the awesome thing here is that the pictures are very inspirational and you get to read a whole variety of people's stories on why they decided to minimalize -- everyone has such a different story! (If you are a fan of these architectural books, don't forget to try Dee Williams' The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir.) 

Simplifying, decluttering, and minimalizing may not be everyone's cup of tea. Perhaps you just want to do a bit of spring cleaning and need help getting started; or you're sick of staring at clutter that you don't know what to do with, or you want insight of why on earth anyone would want to get rid of all of their precious world possessions that took years to acquire. No matter, these books can help point you in the right direction.
-Emily M.

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