I love physical books, and I love large, curated libraries. But the minimalists have some pretty good arguments against accumulating stuff, and books are no exception.
How often are you really going to go back and reread (or even just peruse) a book sitting on your bookshelf?
How much actual social esteem do you get from the aesthetic plus of having a library?
How much are these books going to slow you down if you need to get the hell out of Dodge when the zombie apocalypse occurs?
Good questions, minimalists. I have answers. I will keep collecting my beautiful paper books. But I will also be loaning and giving them away.
Books get a second life when they get into someone else’s hands. They’re just wasted potential sitting on your shelf. And there are quite a few good ways to get your beautiful paper books into good homes and good hands:
- Give a book to every guest who comes into your home
- Bring a book to every coffee shop philosophy discussion
- Start a Little Free Library in your neighborhood
- Start a library for your office for your coworkers
Instead of being a book collector only, you have the opportunity to be a sort of venture capitalist of books. Don’t sit on your (intellectual) capital – entrust it to the people whose lives it will improve most.
Maybe this is how you can be a minimalist and still love the nice physical things of life. The things will have little power over you if you hold them loosely. And they can hardly clutter up your space when you’re constantly giving them away.