Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Discard Books with KonMari

I love the KonMari Method, which Japanese cleaning guru, Marie Kondo, outlines in her very popular book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’m following her technique as closely as possible and that means starting with a giant pass through all of my belongings, category by category, to discard items that don’t “spark joy”.

Last week, I started with my clothing. Even though I’d been discarding items as part of my minimalist project for months, I found the KonMari Method to be, by far, the most effective way to shrink my wardrobe. Not only that, but I’m incredibly happy with what I have left: just the essentials, but the essentials I love. The next step after clothes is books.

Steps to Discard Books

  1. Gather all of your books from every corner of your house.
  2. Handle each book, one-by-one, and decide whether it sparks joy.
  3. Discard those books that don’t spark joy.

It’s so simple. Don’t try to tackle photo albums or other mementos yet. Leave those for after you’ve gone through every other category.

Reasons to Keep Books

Unlike many other techniques that urge you to discard books you won’t ever read again, Kondo recognizes that books can bring you joy even if you never intend to read them again. It’s OK to keep them if you look at your shelf and are happy to see them. In fact, she lists out the following two reasons to keep a book:

  1. It belongs in the hall of fame. These are the books you truly love. Books that you read over and over.
  2. It inspires pleasure. This list of books might change over time, but keep the books that spark joy now.

Books to Throw Out

  1. Books you haven’t read. “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.” Otherwise, you likely never will, so toss it.
  2. Books that inspire “moderate pleasure”. While only you can decide what to keep and toss, Kondo has noticed that she doesn’t need books that only inspire “moderate pleasure”. She never looks at them and they don’t spark enough joy to justify a space on her shelf.

How To Get Rid of Books

 Once you’ve figured out which books to keep and which to pitch, you have a couple of options for disposal.

  1. Sell them using Bookscouter or Amazon.
  2. Donate them to a local library or a non-profit.
  3. Give them out to friends.
  4. Throw them out. Kondo doesn’t outright tell you to just pitch everything, but she implies it every time she mentions filling up garbage bags with your discards. Most books can be recycled after you remove the covers and bindings that contain glue, so I urge you to pitch them responsibly.

The whole process, for me, took far less time (around 30 minutes) than my clothing project last weekend. I’d already done a great job getting rid of books, but I still found more to discard!

Discarded Books

Discarded Books

I kept about the same number of books as I threw out. Most notably, I ended up with Spanish reference books (which remind me of my semester in Spain), a couple gardening books, and a few of my favorite books on starting your own business (which I’d like to do someday). If everyone else in the house would do this too, we’d be getting a much smaller bookshelf!

Now it’s your turn! Which books would you keep?


  1. Hello, interesting article and very well written. For future related ones, I wanted to make a suggestion. Consider mentioning Bonavendi, I found it to be a handy price comparison website for used items, including books. Anyway, keep up the awesome work 😀

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