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Marie Kondo is right: Give away your books

No topic inflames the passions of literary types more than the question of getting rid of books.

Even the hippest minimalists make exceptions for literature, arguing that they will return to the best texts and have been filled with regret when they gave favorite tomes away. And though many have signed on for the life-changing magic of tidying up—the famous Marie Kondo book and decluttering method, now a Netflix series—some steadfastly refuse to include books in the category of stuff that burdens us.

Books are objects. Yet they are special. Unlike other things that take up space, they have a certain cachet. An excess of texts doesn’t seem wasteful or materialistic to many, even in these times of decluttering frenzy. Instead, it’s considered impressive.

In fact, some might judge not only your erudition but your fundamental sexiness based on your bookshelves. Or, in the words of filmmaker John Waters, “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!”

Waters, however, like so many others, is confusing having books with reading them. And while having many tomes may impress a collector, the truth is that your bookshelves say more about your sense of attachment than your actual reading habits. After all, unlike a sweater—which is a thing that is useful to own—the value of a book goes far beyond its existence as an object.

The point of books isn’t to prove you’re a reader should a guest come over and judge you. Texts are meant to be read. They live on after they are physically gone from your life, and the best of them transform you forever, whether or not you can point to them in your space. These aren’t standard objects because

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