My experience donating books

I started last summer to count my stuff. As beautifully written by Mathilde here "[...] knowing I have too much is something, knowing what is too much is something else". At that point, I was able to put an exact number: I had 187 books. It felt too much.

Right away I decided to tidy this up and started to screen them all. Few questions were in my head to help me pick up which ones to discard: (a) do I think there is a 90%+ chance I'll re-read it again in the future? (b) am I even able right now to 'sell' that book to anyone? [i.e I remember enough what this is about and/or the emotion it created in me] (c) if one of my best friend were to visit me today and ask for a book to read, would I be proud enough to recommend that one? If the answer was anything else than an easy 'yes' [to all 3 of these questions], I'd discard the book.

Result's below. I today own 86.5 books [.5 because I co-own some of them with my other half]. And yep, I also love magazines and I do plan to sort them out next [even though I bought a new one 2 days ago].

To get rid of them in an easy & efficient way, I chose to give all of them away for free. I put few pictures on our local Buy Nothing group and few days later, 3/4 of them were out of the house.

The smiles and happy faces I got from people who came to our flat to pick up the books and the few minutes discussions downstairs to share few anecdotes [if any] made the whole experience very meaningful. Overall, I felt great. Almost 3 months later, I still feel great about this but I also don't really know how I should buy and deal with books in the future.

I decided that - going forward - a book should be either a learning or an entertaining experience. Period. So I literally said goodbye to the books as a piece of decoration or furniture at home. In other words, no such room for me as Karl's one below.


Yet, when I look at this, I've to admit I find it beautiful. I wonder why. I mean, is it only because I'd truly find beautiful that mix of colorful paper? In this case, such a room becomes beautiful whatever the titles would be pile up inside. Or is it more due to what books represent in our society? Like a way to tell people 'hey look how smart/cultivated I am - I read so much' or this kinda bullshit shortcut.


Here's something Naval says at min 6 that struck me.

When people are putting a photo on Twitter or Instagram of ‘look at my pile of books that I’m reading’, it’s a show-off thing, it’s a signalling thing. The reality is I’d rather read the best 100 books over and over again until I absorb them rather than read all the books.
Now - even though I stand behind that mindset 100% I still find challenging now and then not to pile up a new book [or magazine] and to give it away as soon as I finished reading it - unless that specific title should enter my top 100 of all time. Then I wonder what that number should be. Should I hold on to 10 books at home? 20? 50? 100? Few days ago I realised how space played a huge role in this answer [in my answer at least]. If I live in a tiny house or a van, my answer will literally be different compare to a few floors mansion. That lead me to think about my kinda perfect home in terms of space. Do I really want to live in a big flat for instance? Why? To pile up more stuff at the end cause I'd need to fill up all this space? Should I intentionally dramatically limit the size of where I live [at least the indoor size let's say; outdoor would be different; I'd use a garden to play or relax; not to pile up stuff]?

Okay - I digress now. It's not about books anymore.

What I've read in 2019

I played with the same sort of resolutions the past few years and it always looks liks this: 

  • spend more time with closed friends
  • talk more to the family
  • read more
  • go back to writing
  • more sport

I've tried to be more specific in 2019 and pretty much succeeded in 4 out of these 5 points. Yep, you could easily guess it by looking at the publishing dates on this blog, I haven't written for a while but hey, it's not what I want to talk about this time.

One thing I've nailed down is my reading habit. I told myself last year to read at least 1 book a month [total being 12 at the end of the year - yep I know, I'm good at maths indeed]. I finally read 21 books in total. It made me very happy so I decided to read at least 2 books a month in 2020 [spoiler: I'm heavily on track].

Below's the list [from the first one I read to the last]:

  1. Papa pour la premiere fois [fr]
  2. J'accouche bientot: que faire de la douleur? [fr]
  3. Les gens heureux lisent et boivent du cafe [fr]
  4. Le journal de moi... papa [fr]
  5. Men, Love & Birth [en]
  6. Revenir a Lisbonne [fr]
  7. Barbarian Days: a surfing life [en]
  8. Ce qu'il reste de nos reves [fr]
  9. L'ecologie en bas de chez moi [fr]
  10. Une colere noire: Lettre a mon fils [fr]
  11. Petite Poucette [fr]
  12. L'alchimiste [fr]
  13. L'espionne [fr]
  14. Le tour du monde du roi Zibeline [fr]
  15. Check-point [fr]
  16. L'aventure, le choix d'une vie [fr]
  17. Le rugissant [fr]
  18. Hotel International [fr]
  19. Le grand roman des maths [fr]
  20. Montessori a la maison [fr]
  21. Electrochoc [fr]

Yep there is something funny indeed looking at this list: 5 books are related to birth & parenthood. Quite easy to guess what we went through last year haha. I also realise that I actually read a lot in french - only 2 books were in english - way more than I would have thought first [and this is probably due to the fact I read in english mainly everyday on the web]. 6 books are novels, which isn't bad for someone who never read this type initially [this is changing though]. My family always makes fun of me because they think I only read biographies but this represents only 5 books last year. There is actually one main topic included in most of these titles [parenthood aside]: travel. It's in 10 of these books [including the highest grade I gave]. 2 books are related to music.

I use a french website called SensCritique to keep track of what I read and rate everything [out of 10]. Average of these 21 books is 6.33. I gave two 9/10: J'accouche bientot & Le tour du monde du roi Zibeline. And I gave two 2/10: Papa pour la premiere fois & Le journal de moi... papa. I'm really disappointed so far in everything written for dads anyway. It's like the only angle for men if you want to tackle parenthood somehow is to treat them like dummies. I've no doubt there are great stuff out there but I still have to dig.

So, my top 3 recommendations from last year would be [parenthood aside of course]: (1) Le tour du monde du roi Zibeline (2) L'alchimiste (3) Le grand roman des maths.

Enjoy.