To Have & To Discard

Clutter in Estelle's Apartment Rather Be Reading BlogI get into these crazy cleaning moods. The ones where I am stuck in the middle of a pile of whatever I’m cleaning and it’s really hard for me to move (and also find the motivation to clean it back up). Last Friday, I was in one of those moods. NEW YEAR MUST GET RID OF SHIT. Something like that. So I go through Playbills, event flyers, old greeting cards, and I weigh the importance of each and every one. Do I keep it if I didn’t have fun or if I don’t talk to the person anymore? Or is that the reason to keep it in the first place? See, I pride myself on keeping my memories honest. From the scrapbook with the old boyfriend that cheated on me to the itinerary from that kind of horrible trip I went on… I probably have all of it.

But when is enough enough?

So I make myself get rid of things. I even went and bought a fun new box from Staples to properly store the memories I wanted to keep safe. It feels good to cull once in awhile, really go through the things that I have and question whether I need it or not. Sure, I want to keep it all but do I need it?

I have this addictive collection problem. I blame my dad who collects every napkin and coaster from vacation, and currently has a museum of sports memorabilia in his basement. (It’s all very diligently organized and recorded. Trust me.) From clothes to books to lipsticks to shoes to pictures, it’s really hard to draw the line because I grow such attachments to things. Sometimes (again in another weird Estelle mood) I can’t sleep and wonder what I would grab if there was ever a fire in my apartment and I had to leave. My husband, my cat, my old stuffed raccoon who sits on my nightstand, and then… what?

(I worry about crazy things.)

Last January in the spirit of the new year and resolutions, I experimented with maintaining a list of what I was buying and bringing into our tiny apartment to keep myself honest. In March, it lost its appeal. Not because I was too embarrassed to write down how many shirts I bought that month but because, like a lot of resolutions, it fell to the wayside. I can sit here and tell you that I did not buy as many books in 2014 as I did in 2013. But still… it might have been too much. How do I know that? I’m hiding books under my chairs, behind my clothing rack, and in my hallway and — the most important reason — I haven’t read them all.

Blogging continues to be this interesting thing because — unlike Disney trips — books are less expensive. Sure, you say, I can spend 10 dollars on that and then not read it for a few months… a year… (much like my gym membership but hey, I’m walking up six flights everyday while our building installs a new elevator). We all talk about books so we can share our love of certain books and, in turn, people run out and buy the books. It’s a simple formula until you are so up to your eyeballs in books that you aren’t sure where you are going to put your Christmas tree and take a full day to shuffle it all around and make room. (I would like to applaud all bloggers for their amazing marketing skills.)

So what about this year?

Well, I’m not making lists this year and I’m not limiting myself, per se, but I am challenging myself to question if I need this certain thing right this moment or if it can wait. Maybe 2015 is all about patience for me and holding the special, meaningful things close. Even if that means waiting to build this library and being more careful about it. Going to the public library more, and not forgetting that friends can lend you books too. That maybe, like all things, personal libraries take time and care to build. That it’s not necessarily about the shiniest new kid on the block but the ones that have stuck with you the longest. And finding the perfect balance between the two.

16 thoughts on “To Have & To Discard

  1. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says:

    YES. Everything about this post — just yes. I mean… my blog is called “The Book Addict’s Guide”. I HAVE A PROBLEM. I cannot stop buying books and I’m terrible at being a sucker for sales too. I keep holding on to books I THINK I might read and hold for the time being and I NEED TO STOP DOING THIS. I’m running out of space on my shelves. And you’ve seen my shelves.
    I recently cleaned some things off my shelves. I got rid of some books — even though they were personalized — because as nice of a thought as it was, I REALLY don’t think I’d actually enjoy some of those books enough to keep.
    I totally have this issue too. I’ve saved all of the notes and cards that people have sent me — not only notes that came from my fellow bloggers but Christmas cards and birthday cards and wedding cards. I have a stack full of things I mean to scrapbook but don’t have the time… so I TOTALLY understand the significance of wanting to keep all of those memories and the task it is to weigh them out.
    This is something I hope to work on this year too! Let’s keep each other in check 😉

  2. Ashley says:

    I’m working on this also. I have a ton of…shit. But I know myself and I know I have to be in the mood to get rid of things. If I’m in the right mood, I have no emotional attachment and I can part with EVERYTHING. But if I’m in the wrong mood and trying to clean, I have an emotional attachment to everything and want to keep it forever.

    So yes. I will try to find that balance with you. <3

  3. Morgan @ Gone with the Words says:

    Oh this is totally me. Our extra closet is full of my stuff, which is mostly paper items (museum maps, greeting cards, all the magazine celeb pictures that used to hang on my walls, literally anything that I can attach a memory to) and things I’m convinced I might need/use someday. I’m very nostalgic by nature and tend to be a pack rat. Genetic on my mom’s side 😛 But I’ve also moved a lot, as a teen and an adult, and each time I get rid of more and more, which feels good. I know I can do even more but it seems impossible sometimes! I do the same cleaning pile thing too hehe. My book situation isn’t bad compared to a lot of peoples but my two shelves ARE full… so yeah. Need to be more intentional with purchases and with what paper items/random things I save 🙂

  4. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook says:

    This is a great post, Estelle. When I first started reading, I bought books a lot. I couldn’t help myself. But before that, I truly didn’t buy them that much. I did sometimes, but usually I just got my books from the library. And granted, as a librarian, I know how to work the system the best to get the books I want quicker, but I have the same rules as all the library patrons. I can’t move myself up on the holds list.

    But, like I said, the first year and a half I bought so many books. And I didn’t read that many. I also was a bit crazy with requesting books from Netgalley and Edelweiss. But since then I’ve really gotten myself under control, and it has been so nice. I’d say for at least the last sixth months, the only books I’ve purchased are when I go to book events, or if there is a book that I plan on reading right then. I have also controlled myself with requesting ARCs. I always ask myself “is this a book I will read before the release date?” Because if it isn’t, there is no point requesting it because I can just get it from the library.

    I like the idea of building a library slowly. I think you want to keep the books that mean something special to you.

  5. Meg says:

    Oh, I can definitely relate to this! And I have no wisdom to share as the only solution to my book-hoarding problem (and, indeed, stuff-hoarding problem) was to move from our condo to a house last year. Then I could spread out my crap! Spread all the things! But I know that’s not really a solution… or not a viable one long-term, anyway. I applaud you for thinking about this and considering how to build your library over time with care and consideration! You can do it!

  6. Madiha @ Symphony of Words says:

    Oh, GOSH I can completely understand what you mean! I am SUCH a hoarder myself, and when I do get the occassional urge to clean up, I usually just end up ruffling through old things and sitting in front of my books, admiring them to no end.

    Also, you guys have a BEAUTIFUL blog. New follower!

  7. molly | wrapped up in books says:

    This is a great post! Sometimes I see bloggers with massive hauls and I think, really? Where do you put them all? How will you ever read som any books? I mean, even if you read 300 books a year!

    I’m pretty under control as far as my book buying and book hoarding is concerned when compared with the blogging community, but compared to a “regular” person, I still have so many — and so many unread! You’ve actually inspired me to write about my book buying and hoarding habits 😉

  8. Chrystal says:

    OMG! I do the same thing. Haul it all out start organizing into piles and then overwhelmed or exhausted and don’t want to finish. LOL

    I think I have to do the same things this year. I am NOT a hoarder, but I do have more than I need in a lot of areas: books, postcards, stationery items, momentos (yes even stuff from crappy exes), etc. It’s like I cling to items to keep the memories? Does that make sense?

    I hope 2015 is a good year of organization for you as it is for me. It’s my overall life goal this year. 🙂


  9. Leah says:


    I’m definitely someone who holds onto things – I have an entire drawer full of holiday/birthday cards! I’ve had notebooks for years because, hey, maybe one day I’ll need a piece of paper! It’s nothing outrageous, but something I would love to change and get under control. You know what? I’d really love to start with my closet. I currently use the spare bedroom as my closet and, to be honest, I wear about 5 shirts out of the piles and racks and drawers full. My mom and sisters have always been fantastic about going through and weeding out things to drop off at Goodwill – I want to get on board! There are so many things I bought that I’ve seriously NEVER touched once I took them out of the bag.

    Books are another huge thing for me and I’m happy to say I’ve been getting better at not buying! Last year I got rid of a ton and it felt AMAZING. I’d love to go through and pull out yucky reads or books I’m never going to read again.

  10. Rachel (Confessions of a Book Geek) says:

    I love this post – mostly because I do this all the time – the first paragraph or so was basically written about my life! In seriousness though, I LOVE a good clear out, I find things I forgot I had and I love the feeling of getting rid of the old to make way for the new – both in books and in everything else. Yes, sometimes I find it hard (I have clothes with tags on I bought two years ago… or more if we’re being really honest!) because I think something might come in handy someday – but I love the sense of freshness, newness and organisation that comes from a good clear out! R x

  11. Charlotte @ Books and Baby etc. says:

    I definitely agree with all of this. I used to be such a hoarder and it’s only in the last few years that I have been able to really get rid of things. Now I’m going the other way and I get annoyed by having too much stuff! I have really fallen in love with my library in the last few months. Reading a book for free and then taking it back so it doesn’t clutter up my flat really appeals to me. I am also thinking of culling my DVD collection in favour of Netflix!

    I do still buy things but I only buy what I’m really excited about or what is a very good deal. Otherwise it just gets out of hand.

  12. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    This is a great post! I, too, struggle with the number of unread books that I have sitting on my shelves and I’m also running out of space. I’m trying to cull my books, but I have a hard time parting with books that I haven’t read yet, even if I’m pretty sure I’ve lost interest. This year will definitely be the year that I cut down on the number of unread books on my shelves. I’m not putting myself on a book buying ban, per se, but I’ve decided that I will only buy a book if I read it right away. Part of my problem is that I buy books that I’m super excited to read, only to put them on my shelves where they begin to lose their luster. On two separate occasions in 2014, I ran to a bookstore, anxious for the next installment in a series that I was reading, and dove into it immediately. And, you know what? It was AWESOME. It brought me back to pre-blogging days when I used to do just that. Before my TBR was ridiculous and my shelves of unread books spilled over. It reminded me of a time when reading was just reading, rather than trying to buy all of the amazing books that I knew I would read ONE DAY, just not today. Just as you said, I’m going to be more mindful of what I purchase this year, and buy with the intention to enjoy it right away.

  13. Alexa says:

    I just went through a lot of my stuff over the past week and I now have a huge box of books to sell and donate. I also got rid of a bunch of stuff that I just didn’t need or wasn’t going to fit in my apartment. I think it is good to discard some things from time to time.
    Plus as you said it does take time to build a library.

  14. Alexa S. says:

    I love your post, E! I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve been bringing into the apartment too (mostly books and souvenirs of all sorts). While I do love having these things, I also think that there comes a point when you’re really more about quality versus quantity, necessary versus nice extra. It’s been an interesting time, particularly with our move, and I’m determined to try to curate the things I own a little more this year with quality and necessity in mind 🙂

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