Whenever I clean out and organize something that is optional and has an emotional aspect to it, like books or clothing or sentimental items, I use a reliable technique to help me decide what to keep:
The gut check.
It’s so easy. All you have to do is look at something and see how it makes you feel. If your initial reaction is sadness or guilt or indifference, you don’t keep it. If it makes you feel glad, you keep it. Simple, yes, but effective.
I won’t tell someone how many books they should keep. That’s a personal decision that you have to make peace with on your own. I do want to talk about reading lists though, because sometimes those book collections carry a lot of feelings of obligation.
My six-year-old daughter is learning to read, and I want her to like all of her books, so occasionally I go through them with her.
“Do you want to keep Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors?”
“No. Too grouchy.”
“What about this book on kindness?”
“No. Not silly enough.”
There are thousands of children’s books available. I wouldn’t dream of making her read a book she doesn’t like when we can find one that she will love instead. My main priority at this point is to make reading fun for her. So when I look at her and think about finding books for her that she will like, I want to do the same for me.
I really believe your reading list should reflect your current interests. It’s a reading list, not another to-do list.
There is so much more to read now than ever before. Most of it is “news,” but I use that term lightly, and most of it is optional. Unless it’s for your job, you get to pick what you read, and you should choose well so that you enjoy the time you spend on it. Suggestions are just that—merely suggestions, and not obligations. They go on the list of “Books I’m Thinking About Reading.”
I do the same with my blog reading. When I see a new post pop up that I get excited about, I read it. If I often notice with a gut check that I just want to finish it or “mark it as read,” then it’s time for me to unsubscribe. The blog may still be good, but my interests have changed, and it’s time for me to move on to make room for new interests.
Perhaps you have a few books that no longer interest you that you could give away. Or maybe you need to spend a few minutes cleaning out your blog reader to free up extra minutes in your day. Mainly, cross anything off your list that you feel like you’re “supposed to read” but that doesn’t interest you.