With Marie Kondo’s show having finally reached peak popularity by hitting Netflix, it is now very popular amongst us millenials to strive to reduce our accumulation of things. I must admit that, living in a 1-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend, I am not too keen on accumulating objects that I don’t know if I’ll ever use. There is, however, one exception to this tendency, and it’s books.
It’s extremely typical of people studying in literature and philosophy to accumulate books, but some of my colleagues do make it a point to get rid of books they don’t intend on reusing at the end of each semester. For me, given my varied interests in literature, I find it hard to get rid of a lot of them. I’ve also been accumulating books I’d like to read eventually here and there, and so I find myself with an entire shelf in my (not-so-big) bookcase dedicated to books I haven’t read yet. On that shelf lay numerous philosophy books, unread books I had to purchase for classes and seminars, books I’ve been gifted for my birthday and for Christmas, and books I’ve bought in used bookstores.
Of course, this leads to the feeling that I’m missing out on those books and wasting money on things I won’t ever read. Some of them have been in my possession for 3 years or more. However, this article by Kevin Dickinson recently made me reevaluate these feelings.
I find the concept of an antilibrary utterly fascinating. Paradoxically, accumulating books doesn’t seem to go against Marie Kondo’s advice to only keep things that “spark joy”, at least for me. The tsundoku is a periodical reminder of all the things I can still discover in the future, I may as well see it as a motivation to keep researching and reading more and more books. It’s also an attestation of the growth I have accomplished so far by studying in literature: I can now see how many things I don’t know as opposed to how many things I know. As per Socrates’ teachings, the ignorant ignoring their own ignorance is more ignorant than the ignorant who knows themselves to be ignorant. These books do indeed spark joy, because they are a prediction for the joy that is still to come by reading them. Each of these books has been chosen in a way, for I feel like they will benefit me intellectually.
Of course, nevertheless, books are heavy, and I know I will move again sometime in the next 2 years. Even if I stop feeling guilt about accumulating books when I have so many I have not read yet, that does not mean I will acquire any book that comes my way. As I just said, all of those currently in my possession have been chosen in a way or another. I knew enough about these books to decide they were worth reading, if I miraculously find myself with enough free time on my hands to make a dent in the pile. I’ve gotten rid of many childhood books that I can’t ever see myself reading again, because reading more books has refined my tastes in a way and these were just… not up to par anymore.
Another thing to think about: Goodreads and co. put a lot of emphasis on the number of books we read each year. I’ve consistently not been able to hit my book count goal because most of the books I read are over 500 pages. Does that mean I’m missing out on something? Probably not. After all, I’ll be able to say I’ve read books which a lot of people wish they could say they have read…
Maybe I should start making room in my other bookcase…