What we gain from keeping books – and why it doesn’t need to be ‘joy’

“Tidying guru Marie Kondo advises us to ditch reading we don’t find joyful. But one’s personal library should do much more than anthologise warm feelings.”

. . . “The metric of objects only “sparking joy” is deeply problematic when applied to books. The definition of joy is: “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness, a thing that causes joy, success or satisfaction.” This is a ludicrous suggestion for books. Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us.

We live in a frantic, goal-obsessed, myopic time. Everything undertaken has to have a purpose, outcome or a destination, or it’s invalid. But art doesn’t care a noodle about your Apple watch, your fitness goals, active lifestyle, right swipes, career and surrender on black pudding. Art will be around far longer than Kondo’s books remain in print. Art exists on its own terms and untidy timeline.

As for culling one’s unread books – while that may be essential for reducing fire and tripping hazards, it is certainly not a satisfying engagement with the possibilities of literature. (Unless it’s self-help or golf, in which case, toss it.) Success is, eventually, actually reading your unread books, or at least holding on to them long enough that they have the chance to satisfy, dissatisfy or dement you. Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.”

Read the full article from The guardian here:

What we gain from keeping books – and why it doesn’t need to be ‘joy’

2018

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