What’s the deal with minimalists and books?

Ever noticed how many famous minimalists are bookworms? I happen to be one, too (not that I’m a famous minimalist). It’s interesting that there seems to be a correlation between people who crave endless stories and knowledge, and people who want to live simply. What do you think it is?

An inquisitive mind that’s willing to try something new (like minimizing)?

A mentality that the most amazing things are stored in your mind and memory?

A dreamer personality that is best supported by a zen environment?

I’m not sure. (But I’d be very interested to hear what you think!) What I do know is that, when I read personal accounts about minimizing, people always struggle with the books. I know I struggled with the books.

I got my first Kindle for my 18th birthday, after years of protesting the death of paperback books. I’ll admit I was basically an instant convert–it was amazing how much space and weight I saved whenever I traveled! Plus, I shared an account with my parents and grandmother, all of whom are big readers, which meant I got quadruple the books for free. Now I carry my Kindle everywhere, relishing the fact that I can carry thousands of books in a smaller package than a single one.

It was also my saving grave when I started my minimalist journey. Getting rid of my books hurt, but was also a relief–I knew I’d be moving in a few months and that books are heavy. Over a couple of months and several purges, I was able to whittle my collection down to the most important ones, the ones I actually pick up and read over and over. I justified it to my internal screaming self by reminding myself that I could always buy them on Kindle (but so far, haven’t needed to!). And when I did move, it was lovely to be able to use half of the bookshelf as a sort of pantry (there’s very little storage in our small apartment).

A couple of days ago, in a fit of pique brought on by all the random textbooks and Greek myths my decidedly-not-minimalist husband brought back from his parents’, I culled most of the rest of my collection. I let go of a few books that I’ve been keeping purely because they’re autographed or by someone I admire… even though I haven’t read them I was finally able to release The Hobbit and all the big, hardcover Eragon books by buying them on Kindle, for example.

Here are my remaining personal books. I have not included books that my husband brought to the table or my cookbooks.


Clockwise from the bottom left: Social Media Marketing for Dummies (I haven’t read it, but I need to; I’m giving myself til March to crack it open); a Chinese textbook that I haven’t looked at in forever, but would like to (March deadline); goal-setting workbooks; ASL text and workbook; Braille workbook (I, um… may have a slight thing for languages); The Phantom Tollbooth, one of my all-time favorite books; The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way (seriously, huge word nerd); a photo album from my high school friends;  and an address book that I’ve decided to digitize and get rid of.

And now there’s actually room for everything to breathe, instead of books being stacked on and crammed in with each other! If only I could convince my husband to buy all the Greek myths on Kindle instead of having them on a bookshelf…

Are books something that you struggle to minimize? How have you justified keeping or purging them? Why do you think books and minimalists go so hand-in-hand?


One thought on “What’s the deal with minimalists and books?

  1. I’ve noticed that too! For me who is starting to minimize my materialism had books as a means of escapism when I was younger and became a part of comfort and tranquility to have a physical book. When I gained my books shelves back home, I really cut back on the books and kept most of my books I use as resource or reference for my art or languages in physical form while going digital for more of the pleasure reading books. I can’t handle reference books in digital form.

    Though I don’t think I can ever let go of my physical copies of Harry Potter because they hold high sentimental value.

    Also I think even with most minimalists, books are a major exception or overlook to the materialism since having a personal library is part of the tranquility they seek while being minimal in other areas.


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