Lately – I’ve been downsizing and decluttering. July was a pivotal month for me – I gathered up 7 bags of clothes, packed up a set of dishes we don’t use (my husband didn’t even know they existed!) AND – I took in 5 boxes of hardback books to a thrift shop that uses the money for animal rescue. Why was I keeping all of these books? I don’t need a film encyclopedia that was published in 1996! I am not going to look at 100 years of National Geographic. Nor, I am not going to read Anna Karenina – and if I decide to read it – it is available at the library. Why did I keep paperbook editions of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird? Yes, I’ll reread them, but again, they are available at the library too. Also – I made a goal to read NO MORE THAN ONE BOOK A WEEK for the remainder of the year!
So – I decided start cleaning out. I decided to seriously look at the books I kept to reread. I started by rereading The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. This book held up! I think I got more out of this reading than my initial reading. It is beautifully written, sometimes I just had to stop and reread a passage because it was so beautiful. Covering 40 years, it is the story of Tom Wingo who goes to New York to help a psychiatrist work with his suicidal twin sister Savannah. This is the story of a dysfunctional family (with a capital D) set primarily in the lowlands of South Carolina. I would deem this a modern classic – one of the great American novels of all time! You may know the outcome while reading it, but the circumstances are revealed slowly. The characters are alive, you can smell the salt water, you want to run out and eat shrimp and oysters! This is a FIVE STAR book!!!! I’m glad I decided to clean out and purge, and I’m glad I reread this book. Now, which Pat Conroy book will I read next that I’ve saved.
A Season in Purgatory by Dominick Dunne – I’ve always liked Dominick Dunne’s style of writing, so I was happy to find this little gem on my bookshelf. About the wealthy Bradley family, it begins with the lines “The jury was in it’s third day of deliberations”. I was hooked. The Bradley’s are a large Irish-Catholic family, the patriarch of the family wants his favorite son, Constant, to be president. Sound familiar? Yes, it is a thinly veiled account of the Kennedy family, however, the hook is it deals with a shocking crime committed by Constant and aided by the focus of the book, Harrison Burns. The crime brings up comparisons to Michael Skakel. A real page turner!
The Joy of Less: A Minimalist’s Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize and Simplify your Life by Francine Joy – this was a fun and quick read – dealing with our relationship with “stuff” and getting rid of it. I have to say, the more I get rid of, the more I have a sense of freedom. “Things” just don’t hold that much power over me anymore. This is the journey I am on at the moment.
So – I only completed 3 books in July – this is groundbreaking for me. I did read more blogs, I did paint more, and I did exercise more!
I posted a picture of our wall of books. I will go through them again this month and get of more. I will reread a book that I have kept for that purpose too! I’m on a moratorium, I’m not buying ANYMORE books right now – I have quite the stack to read and reread!
What do you consider the “great American novel”?
Here is a sample of what I have stacked up!
I so recognize this. Last year I came home one day, looked around and felt stuffed. I wanted it all gone. And I wanted it out quick (before I could change my mind).
I cleared my closet from clothes I bought to small but hoping I would shrink into (no, the shrinking part never happened), who needs 40 plus mugs (truth!), all the beautiful pots for plants who never survive in my house because of my notorious black thumbs.
And I went a time span of 3 weeks from 7 very full, very crammed bookcases to 3 bookcases with room to spare. I gave everything away, to people who I knew would love the books. Some went here, some went there, till they were gone. I purged almost everything I was not emotionally attached to, both the ones I had read (and some of them reread) and also the ones I bought but never got round to reading them. Novels, travel books, travel guides, craft books, painting books, biographies, science books, interiordecorating books. Allsorts. What I kept could fit in one bookcase but I have spread it out over 3. And told myself to not buy books again. Ever. Hahahaha, yeah I know, that sounded silly.
I did buy books. And I still have to read some of them. In fact, this afternoon I came home from this fabulous bookstore with only travel books, travel guides, maps etc. I unpacked 3 books which I bought. 3 San Francisco travel guides. I already have 4 of them but these shouted out my name. Who am I to ignore that!
I do have a rule. For every new book that enters my house, one old one I have to give away. Doesn’t have to be of the same category. Just one in, one out. so far I stuck by that rule.
And you know what? At the time I was nearly heartbroken letting go of all my possessions. But once gone, it was as if I could breathe again. It was liberating! I never regretted it. It was just stuff that was weighing me down.
I still have one area in my house to do. My craft supplies. I have tons of stuff that I never touch anymore. I have to get rid of them. Maybe donate some of it to a childrens hospital or something like that. One day.. one day…
greetings from Amsterdam ♥
Oh, I go through this every few months it seems now. I get rid of a few more and I don’t buy anywhere near what I used to purchase. I do love to read and there aren’t enough hours in the day so it’s better to let someone else enjoy them 🙂
I had to declutter drastically a couple of years ago; I am still mourning some of the things I had to let go. For me at least, it’s not freeing, but like cutting off little bits of my past. (And not the parts I want to let go.)
Vickie–I appreciate hearing about what you are reading. It has sent me down some interesting paths (exploring Klimt’s work, for example). We have a Little Free Library in our front yard, which is where our extra books go. It is such a delight! (More info at http://littlefreelibrary.org)
glad you enjoyed it – i’m trying to read more deliberately these days – more constructively.
I can understand mourning some things – I have been getting rid of the STUFF I haven’t laid eyes on in years, the things that are easily replaced too. At this point in my life, it makes me appreciate what I have more. I still mourn getting rid of all my ticket stubbs in a move years ago – wish I hadn’t done that!