Through college, graduate school and seminary my book collection grew. During my years as a parish minister church offices held many of them, but after becoming a chaplain my books had to come home. They filled five large bookcases. If this kept up I would need a bigger house. So I began reducing my collection, first to four bookcases, then three, then two. Each time I felt a little lighter.
Maybe I'm the only one who has many partially-read books and some I should read "some day." Maybe I'm the only one whose lines of books remind her of what she has not done nor has time to do. Maybe I'm the only one who would find this task so freeing. It freed me of my own (often unrealistic) expectations of myself. There is so much about honesty with oneself in this process of tidying.
My ministry-related books reduced down to Friedman's Generation to Generation, works by theologian Howard Thurman, Rabbi Heschel's The Sabbath, Rabbi Kushner's When Bad things Happen to Good People, Parker Palmer's A Hidden Wholeness, a couple Kathleen Norris books, scripture and hymnals, a few books on chaplaincy, and my most beloved children's books.
Marie Kondo writes that in the process of tidying people gain clarity about their lives and what they want to do with them. When it came to putting books back on the shelves in my office, it became blazingly clear to me that I want to become a professional writer. So in place of honor above my desk are collections of poetry, books about writing, and rediscovered notebooks with drafts of poems, essays, and ideas for books of my own. In the binder, facing out, is the first draft of my first novel.