Sunday Salon: Clearing the reading clutter

sundaysalonKeeping things simple is my theme this year. As I described in one of the first posts of the year, this means I’m holding back from reading challenges. In line with this spirit of simplification I’ve now decided that the time has come to de-clutter my reading life. I’m not as ambitious however as the woman I read about yesterday who had adopted a numerical approach where she gets rid of one item on day 1 of the month, 2 on day 2, 3 on day 3 etc right up to day 30. Small but steady changes is more in line with my thinking.

Step 1: clear out the bookshelves.  My goal is to find space on bookshelves/in cupboards for all the books currently in piles on the floor. I uncovered a pile of business related books that I can’t see me ever getting to read. So off to the charity shop went  Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleThe Empty Raincoat, by Charles Handy and Jim Collins’ From Good to Great. I’ve read sections of all of them but not from cover to cover. Along with them in the discard pile were numerous text books from my Open University courses on children’s literature, Shakespeare and the Romantic era. I kept a few books on social media topics and also sustainability but made a promise to myself that if I haven’t read them within a year, they’ll also be finding new homes.

Step 2: Prune my email in box A radical pruning was called for here having reached more than 4,000 items in my in box.  A mass delete of messages from before 2013 got it down to a more reasonable number. Then I started unsubscribing from all the companies who insist on sending me emails and newsletters telling me about their latest products and special offers. Wish I could stop all the Amazon ‘deals of the day’ messages and the ‘if you liked this, you would probably be like this’ kind.

Step 3: Part company from social media channels. I barely have time to keep up with this blog let alone Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, LibraryThing and Stumble Upon, and Rifle and You Tube and all the other channels that have proliferated in the last few years. I’m evaluating all of these to decide which I really find of use. Rifle I have parted company with already (I joined  purely out of curiosity when it was launched but haven’t found them offering anything significantly better than Goodreads). Stumble Upon will probably be next. I’m in a quandary with Twitter – I find things there that I don’t see anywhere else but really don’t have the time to post that often. I’m in an even bigger quandary over Goodreads and LibraryThing. Goodreads is the easiest to use but LibraryThing seems to have more interesting discussions.  Does anyone have recommendations on which of these is the better option if I were to chose only one?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on January 18, 2015, in Sunday Salon and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. 4,000 emails in your inbox! Wow! And I thought my 130 was a lot. Good luck weeding them down. Can’t help with Goodreads or LibraryThing. I gave up on GoodReads when Amazon bought it and I only use LibraryThing to catalog my books and no as a social media platform. And good luck clearing your bookshelves too. That’s an especially tough thing to do!

    • Its even worse than i thought Stefanie, it turns out 4,000 was the number of unread emails. But i’ve plodded along and got it down to 400. Not bad for one week

  2. An email tip: The first day (or first business day) of each month go through and archive/delete all email from the month. It keeps it manageable and it’s just a habit, plus it makes your inbox nice and clean!

    As for Social Media, I’ve just linked most of mine together and stuck with a couple and the rest are just “automated.”

    • That such a good tip Geoff. Discipline seems to be a theme in many articles/books I’ve read – the other key tip is that you should either delete/action or file every email – and stop opening them and then putting to one side ‘to read later’.

  3. I think that if not read in one year idea is a good one to prune bookshelves and one I use too. As a result, I think I have a handful of books now on my shelves, plus I know I can get others, if I really want to read them, at the library where I work or on the Free Library of Philadelphia website.

  4. I gave up on Goodreads and librarything ages ago. I sometimes go in to log my books, but that’s it, and StumbleUpon and Digg has also dropped by the wayside. Frankly, I realized that I never liked all these things that much, I joined in only because they were the IN thing. Obviously I was going to drop out soon.

    I try to keep up with Twitter, but not much and I have a feeling that’s going to get dropped soon. I am enjoying Instagram and YouTube though and am much more active on those.

    So social media, I am ok I think, but I really need to get to those bookshelves soon 🙁

  5. i only use Stumbledupon to add my own blog posts to the mix – never to go find!.

    I know friends of mine get much enjoyment out of LT (and GR) forums, but I have yet to dig that deep.

    As part of the recent Bloggiesta run, I’ve reduced the number of blogs I subscribe to, reducing the number of mails I get. Sooner or later I’ll work on the other subscriptions

    • Do you get much traffic from Stumbleupon Nordie? I need to do a prune of the blog subscriptions too – I seem to have duplicates on Bloglovin and WordPress feeds

  6. I like your unckuttering ideas and I I agree with Guy Savage about the Goodreads notifications of author’s new books coming out when I’ve liked a previous one. These days I never seem to have time for all the emails. Each day I will delete each message or shift it into a subfolder as far as possible then every now and again I’ll start with the earliest unread message and ruthlessly delete a few, even if they have come from favorite blogs. I’ve found that if I don;t read it on the day it comes the chances I won’t read it at all. Works for me but I probably miss some good stuff.

    • I do like interacting on people’s blogs but it can get very time consuming. 40minutes go past and I realise I’m going to be late for work or gym etc. I think I’m going to have to be judicious like you

  7. The problem with getting rid of things, which I am quite prone to do, is then missing them a few months later. I feel rather silly buying a book I’d gotten rid of, certain I’d never read it again, only to find that I would. But, the idea of a tiny house appeals to me and how I would ever move in to one of those is beyond my imagining. Unless I left my books behind!

    As for Twitter and Facebook and Rifle and Goodreads and all the other annoying hindrances to books, I quite agree. If I had time to read all those, and the blogs I like, and the books I wanted to read, I wouldn’t leave my desk. As you say, something’s gotta give, and it sure isn’t going to be literature, right?

    • I was furiously nodding over your first point Bellezza. Last Saturday I was explaining The Reluctant Fundamentalist to my husband and recommending he read it but when I went looking in the bookcase, it’s no longer there so must have gone in one of my earlier purges. Oh dear

  8. I can’t speak for Librarything but I can speak for Goodreads. I like goodreads because the site notifies me when an author I’ve read has a new book coming out. There have been a couple of times that I’ve been shocked that I missed this release, so I’m grateful for the notification. I don’t care about discussions on the site much–with a couple of exceptions, but it does help me keep track of my reading for the future, past & present.

    • I’ve not had those notifications Guy – do they come as an email or just pop up on the home page? I rarely look at that home page so may have been getting the notices but just not seen them

  9. There’s been a noticeable decline in the number of posts I’m reading about reading challenges this year. In fact, I see more people posting about not doing challenges than about doing challenges. I think you aren’t alone in wanting to simplify your reading life!

  10. I think we’re all in that boat. I have had to cut back on a few things however love Twitter, You Tube, and following literary blogs. It’s obvious I won’t be able to read everything and psychologically I’v accepted that. Good luck finding room for your shelfless books. Do you not have room to put another bookshelf? Ouch! I know the problem oh so well. 🙁

  11. A noble goal. I try to use the library and to give away those books I buy after I read them. I am somewhat successful. I recently unsubscribed to lots of offers and I have limited social media. That said, I am trying to increase blogging. I want to keep it short and a little more diverse — back to the original intention which included wellness as well as books.

  12. Good luck! I keep my books in pretty good shape since I have very little space and long ago decided to let the library store “my” books for me. But I’m overwhelmed with email and social media as well and have yet to work out the perfect solution for me.

    • You’re pretty active in social media (I see a lot of tweets from you) but I don’t know how you fit it in with your fitness and healthy eating regime as well as reading and just life in general

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