We’ve talked about going through our closets and other spaces in our home to get rid of things and I’ve finally begun. I started with my clothes. I followed the method described in Marie Kondo’s book by pulling everything out of my closet and dresser – clothes, shoes, jewelry and bags. I have eight bags of stuff to send out into the world. My sister never buys clothes for herself so I called her first to see if there was anything she could use. I think I’m about three sizes bigger than she is so the only clothing that fit her were old clothes from a much younger (and thinner) me. The remaining bags will go to a women’s shelter.
I’m not sure why I decided that I had to do my books next. It’s against Marie Kondo’s way. The things you have emotional attachment to should be done last…when you have an idea of how things feel when they “spark joy.” In other words, you tackle the difficult areas after you’ve had experience at “tidying.”
I have a big cookbook collection as I’ve been collecting books since the 70’s. My first cookbook was Favorite Island Cookery. It was the first in a series of five books published by the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Mission. I was living in Portland, Oregon and really missed the food of the islands – sushi, teriyaki chicken, pork guisantes, and fried noodles. I didn’t know how to cook so my mom sent the book and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been a passionate cook ever since.
The cookbooks are more than recipe reference books to me. Each book reminds me of a time that I cooked food from the location or by the chef. Among the places I’ve “visited” via the books are Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Italy. Some of the chefs I’ve cooked are Charlie Trotter, Elizabeth Andoh, Rick Bayless, and Alice Waters. That makes each book a little time capsule bringing back memories of food, people and meals shared. I’ve spent hours pouring through the pages of the books…admiring the photos and reading about the background of each recipe and information about the ingredients. Pulling the books out of the hall closet was like reuniting with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while. They were hiding behind a layer of vases and candles. Many of the books from the closet went to new homes because it was a different me that purchased them and they don’t serve me now
Kris and our friend, Dale, installed a floor to ceiling book case in what was then a second bedroom many years ago. That is where the biggest mass of books lives…cookbooks, books on zen, novels to read, poetry and knitting. The cookbooks are somewhat organized by type of cuisine and the remaining books are on the topmost shelves. The other areas where books live are on the dresser in our bedroom. These are mostly zen books and poetry that I love. In my office, the books on writing, creativity and photography live along the wall of my desk. Did I mention that I love books?
Marie Kondo’s method would be to take all the books off the shelves and everywhere and gather them in one place. I didn’t do that. i did take the books off each shelf and put each one that “sparked joy” back. We now have boxes of books that are going to new homes…some to a used book store and some to the library. I’ve kept my favorite go-to books in highly accessible visible spaces.
The books are no longer jammed together so that every time I reach for one, others fall out. They really do seem happier. This sounds crazy, but dusting them off and handling them seems to have given them a new energy. They have room to breathe and I love looking at them.