Books & Print

Why Can’t I Throw Books Away? Dealing With an Attachment Issue.

Olivia Ross

The idea of having my own library is an aim that is currently leading me astray. For years, since watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and seeing the beautifully animated library in that, I have wanted  a room in my *future* house completely dedicated to books. 

With this constantly in the back of my mind, I bought more and more books. Only when I moved out of my house to go to university, did I realise I had a problem. Not just a problem with having too many books, but also a growing attachment to said books. I could not throw any away. This made packing to go to university stressful. Obviously I couldn’t take the hundreds of books I had to my tiny room in halls. But I couldn’t leave piles of books in a room that my mum had planned to make into her office while I was away. So, I had to deal with my attachment issues. 

Over the years, the popularity of tidying and staying organised has rocketed. From Marie Kondo and the ‘KonMari Method’ to Stacey Soloman and her ‘Tap to tidy’ Instagram stories. I’ve never had an issue with scaling down what I own. If it doesn’t ‘spark joy’ or hasn’t been used in a while- it is donated without a second thought. But books have always been the one exception to this. 

I, like many people, buy books if they have pretty covers. This applies even if I already own a copy of said book. Leading me to have multiple copies of Pride and Prejudice, and even books I’m not fond of like Great Expectations. I have 10 copies of Alice in Wonderland. Did I used to have an obsession with Alice in Wonderland? Yes. Do I now? No. Shouldn’t I be able to get rid of the excess copies? No, they mean too much.

There is a big difference between buying and actually reading a book. Books have become decorative pieces, being used more for aesthetics than for the story within the pages. ‘Coffee table’ books being a big part of this, utilising the beauty of the book without actually expecting people to open it. I can see myself within this. I don’t read, or even touch, most of the beautiful copies of books I have. If I actually want to read the story, I get a cheap paperback so I don’t ruin the detail of the attractive one. But I don’t even display these ‘better’ copies. Most of them are hidden behind other piles of books that I haven’t yet read. So if I’m not reading them or using them for aesthetic need, what is the point of me having them?

It’s a difficult one. Currently I’m trying to compromise with myself. Encouraging myself to read the books I have yet read and only keeping them if I think I’ll read them again. Doing this eased me into dealing with my attachment problems, allowing me to donate said books to charity. Now I keep a donation pile next to my bookcase which I’ll hopefully be able to deal with once lock down has been lifted.

An old donation pile

Everybody has something they like to collect or get attached to. With my book habit, I just want to make sure that even if a book did catch my eye because of its cover, that I’m also appreciating the story within it, rather than just letting it stand.