How many books is too many?

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I was reading a lovely post the other day about the beautiful house pictured above, and one of the comments really struck me:

“so i’ve always wondered… why do people decorate their house with so much STUFF??? I mean, do they actually read those books? what is the purpose of all those vases and objects? why do we feel like it’s necessary to stuff our house with so much unnecessary and useless stuff?? i like having some objects that bring me joy and is nice to look at… but i think this is too much… way too much clutter!!!”

I tend to agree (and a lot of commenters did too). Less but better stuff is better! But I draw the line at books. Can anyone ever have too many books?

It reminded me of an article I read over the holidays that introduced me to the new idea of antilibraries, or collections of books that the homeowner hasn’t yet read. According to the article, a collection of unread books keeps people “intellectually curious and humble.”

It continues, “A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The (private) library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there.”

I have no intention of curtailing my book hoarding, and we recently created a great space for displaying and storing our children’s books. I’ll be sharing that bookcase next week. Until then, keep stocking those shelves with books! •

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3 thoughts

  1. Oh gosh. I actually do think there’s such a thing as too many books! I’m a book lover, so I totally get the draw. But once I got into minimalism a switch just flipped and now I get a lot of satisfaction out of sending my books back free into the wild!

    I find it really helps to keep a digital bookshelf on GoodReads. I can “see” all the books I’ve read. I often copy down the meaningful passages from the book that I’d like to save for future reference. I also mark down my ‘to reads’ here (which I occasionally purge when I accept that I’m not ever actually going to read some of them).

    I love this blog post about the topic, especially the section on desert island books: https://www.becomingminimalist.com/breaking-the-sentimental-attachment-to-books/

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    1. I can see where you are coming from, especially as a minimalist. I have tried to get excited about the e-book thing, and I just can’t do it. I get tired of staring at a screen all day, and since I’m on a computer for work, it’s hard to want to do the screen thing after work too. Bottom line, though, is that reading is so important, and fostering a love of books at home is a good thing (we both agree on that!).

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