Book lovers on social media are frothing at the mouth after Marie Kondo advocated having less than 30 books on her new Netflix show. Avid readers and book hoarders seem to have taken offence with organizational guru Kondo’s comments, which she made during an episode of her new show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. They are screaming for her blood, as if she visited their homes at midnight and burned down their stash of books. In fact, Kondo never actually said that people should only have 30 books. But rather that she personally likes to limit her collection to that number. But isn’t this what social media is all about these days; over-reaction to even mere suggestions? When will people understand that one advice doesn’t fit all?

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Bibliophiles have taken offence with organisational guru Marie Condo’s comments on having less than thirty books.
  • Kondo’s advise makes sense in times when owning bigger living space and lofty book cabinets is a luxury.
  • Book lovers showing zero tolerance to someone daring to offer a bit of advice is disturbing.
  • In the materialist times that we live in, we have reduced even the art of reading to ownership.

If Kondo’s tips on decluttering don’t work for you, then don’t take them. Stop watching her show and find something better to do than using caps lock to express your rage.

Being an avid reader myself, I know what a headache it is to manage a big pile of books, especially if you live with non-readers, who have differing opinions on ways to use limited spaces in the matchbox-sized apartments that most of us inhabit. Every visit to my parents’ place even today is rife with them scolding me for not taking my two boxes of books, that I left in their care before my marriage. In fact, I’ve been smuggling old books from my apartment to their home, so that I’ve some space to buy and store more books here. Yet, the truth is that books occupy a lot of space and I can see a judgement day arriving for my beloved book cabinet in the near future.

For every book lover, it is a fantasy to have a reading room full of books at disposal, not everyone has similar priorities. Most people do not even have that luxury. With our living spaces shrinking rapidly and the cost of properties already touching the stratosphere, limiting assets like books, clothes, etc. is a necessity. Kondo is offering an advice, which is practical and makes sense to many. But why are so many bibliophiles feeling so offended? Because we love to feel offended by everything these days and we love to flaunt about anything on social media.

Just like some people love to flaunt cabinets full of clothes or an unending collection of shoes, some bibliophiles love to flaunt their love for reading and collecting books.

But showing zero tolerance to someone daring to offer advice is disturbing. A true bibliophile would indeed snort at Kondo’s suggestion of limiting the number of books to less than thirty. But we would rather ignore her words and take another trip to a nearby bookstore to buy more books, than dance the dance of death on social media. Because for those who truly love to read, it doesn’t boil down to how many books you own, but how happy and content reading makes you feel.

Alas, in the materialistic times that we live in, we have reduced even the art of reading to ownership. You are only well-read if you have read or own more than a certain number of books. It’s not about what you’ve imbibed from books you’ve read, but about completing a target. Now, where is the joy in that? How has that not reduced your massive book collection to merely being a symbol of being well-read and thus well-learned? (Or so people think.) The virtual attack on Kondo only further proves how easy it is to offend people these days. How all it takes is one disapproving nod at a component of your lifestyle, to turn you intolerant.

This says a lot about all of us, not just book-hoarders who now have sore fingers from massively trolling Kondo. It is time to tone the menace and pretence down.

Kondo’s style of decluttering is minimalistic, which may come across as ruthless to many. It motivates you to question what is of value to you and what you have been holding on to, just out of indulgence. We can all agree that we all have books in this case that brings us immense joy. Books we read and re-read and books that are of sentimental value to us. Similarly, there are books which only occupy space, harbouring mould and silverfish. Books we didn’t like and books we want to forget. The essence of Kondo’s advice is to segregate our books into these two piles and then let go of the latter. It also doesn’t mean dumping unwanted books in a trash can or putting them in a shredder. You could always pass them on to other people or donate them.

What you’ll be left with is a lot of space to stack up with things that bring you joy which is more good books in this case. How can something so innocuous lead to so much outrage on social media is something I will never comprehend?

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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