5 Justifications For Having More than 30 Books in Your House

Are you ready to spark some joy? Then come along as I give you the perfect response to anyone in your life who has been watching that Marie Kondo Netflix show “Tidying Up and Losing Your Soul By Giving Away All Your Books.”

I’m pretty sure that’s the title, based on the Internet. My social media feed has exploded with memes mocking this preposterous notion:

While what Kondo actually said is that she keeps her personal book limit to around 30 volumes, if you’re a booklover seeking justifications for keeping a significantly larger dragon horde of literary treasures personal library, you’ve come to the right place.

Full disclosure: my name is Amy Green, and I work for a book publisher. I love authors and books and being gracefully disorganized. (That is totally a thing. It means the chaos around you is reflective of a life so full and rich that it defies structure…and dusting.)

To be fair to Marie Kondo, I can imagine a scenario where 30 volumes might possibly be a good standard. Like if you have a fully-loaded Kindle. And live in a tiny house. Next door to a library.

Otherwise, if you’re feeling guilty for double-stacking your shelves, I have a response for you. Since Kondo created a whole method of cleaning based on a rearrangement of her name, the KonMari method, allow me to present the GreAm method. (Slightly less catchy, but whatever.)

It is rigorous—you must be willing to defend your right to a full bookshelf with logic and determination. It is holistic—in that I’m basically telling you to keep your whole library. And it is aimed at inner peace—because there’s nothing as peaceful as being surrounded by books. So let’s begin.

One: Books spark joy.

Am I using the organizational maven’s own mantra against her? Why yes, I am.

Do you know what brings me joy? BOOKS! Adventures to times and places I’ll never visit in the “real” world, deep journeys into hope and heartbreak, thrilling escapades where someone won’t get out alive but I probably will, somewhat-confusing classics I had to read for school that made me a better person even if I didn’t appreciate them at the time…I love them all.

I mean, it’s great to have a few travel mementos that bring a smile every time you look at them, don’t get me wrong, but books contain whole worlds—the lives and journeys of beloved friends we’ve admired and empathized and learned from. The joy quotient is just through the roof. Libraries and bookstores spark so much joy that they might as well be actual infernos of happiness. (Is that a little Fahrenheit 451? Maybe. But you get the idea.) And if your house just happens to resemble a library or bookstore…all the better!

Two: Books are super tidy.

A book is the tidiest object I can possibly imagine. Think of those crisp white margins, the uniform edges, the perfectly straight lines of text.

Also, the KonMari method is apparently really big on folding things. There is a precise method for how to fold tea towels and fitted sheets and the jingle-bell-bedecked Christmas socks you only wear once a year (hey, it’s all about the joy, don’t judge). Thankfully, your personal library is all about folding. Book terminology time: a “signature” is a group of pages (in multiples of four) folded together and glued to the spine of an average paperback book. Books are essentially collections of tiny, neat little folds. See? Tidy in the extreme.

Three: Books are not clutter.

Dictionary.com informs us that clutter is “a disorderly heap or assemblage.” I have a very simple solution. We can create a piece of furniture, similar to a display case, that allows you to line up your books in an orderly fashion.

We’ll call it a “bookshelf.” No clutter? No problem.

(And those escapees that end up stacked and piled around your house? Those are educational and aesthetic home décor accessories. Clearly.)

Four: Kids’ books would have to be included in that total.

Imagine you have the American household average of 2 children. This, out of 30 books, would give them approximately an allotment of 15 books from the total, so 7.5 books each. (Sorry, but this is the math, people…be glad I didn’t use the real average of 2.3 children. We can pretend the .5 book is the bafflingly popular Goodnight Moon and leave it at that.) Please imagine reading the same 7.5 books to your toddler over and over and over until the words are ingrained in your head like an ancient liturgy and you have visited the triumphs and travails of the pirate/princess/anthropomorphic cuddly animal so often that they feel like a member of the family…

Wait. Actually, this is pretty much what happens to parents anyway, even if you have a mountain of books available for your little one, so I guess we can throw out this reason and move on to…

Four, Second Try: Marie Kondo has written multiple books.

Does this directly relate to why you can feel perfectly fine owning more than 30 books? No. But I’m throwing it in here for the sheer irony of it. I can’t determine the exact number of unique titles by Kondo because of translations and digests and journals, but there are at least 3 (10% of her household quota), with probably more to come. Is it unreasonable for an author who has made a living from the book industry to tell people to get rid of their books? Well…not technically, but it is a little amusing.

Five: Books can talk back.

One part of the KonMari method that some people find either freeing or really eccentric is the practice of thanking your belongings as you release them to a better place (like the Goodwill donation bin).

Hey, I talk to inanimate objects, mostly malfunctioning technology, all the time, I can get behind that. But books are made of words and therefore the only things that can respond to me. Like, when I yell at the character, “What do you think you’re doing?” it might take him a few chapters, but he usually tells me. And when I flip through the pages of a book to thank it for its service, inevitably I’ll notice that one hilarious or meaningful scene that always got to me…and start skimming…and then reading…and then I move the book out of the donation pile for good and it’s never going back, sorry, I just can’t do it.

If minimalism requires book-lite living, well…who really needs to be tidy, anyway?

What books you own would make your”Top Thirty” list? Just as an exercise, of course…

41 thoughts on “5 Justifications For Having More than 30 Books in Your House

  1. This blog post is the best response I have seen to that meme! LOL My books spark joy… people who tell me I have too many? Not so much!

  2. I only own between 100 – 120 paperback books at last count (which was before Christmas and my birthday . . . ) And I am in no way giving them up . . . That’s all I have to say. 😉

  3. I’m firmly on the GenAm train! Loved your response to this, Amy. So funny, yet so true. My husband is currently working on reorganizing our bookshelves. Never once did either of us broach the idea of getting rid of any of our collection. Gasp! That would be blasphemous. In fact, the impetus behind this reorganization was his desire to make more room for a certain author’s books. 😉 Gotta love that man.

    • It’s a great method! And your husband is a wise man. I hope all of your books find just the right space to fit into your home, especially as you add more of your own!

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  4. Do we have to count the Bible in this 30-book limit? It feels wrong to label the holy word of God as a mere book (and, more to the [selfish] point, I have my NKJV study bible, my ESV doodling bible, my pocket-sized take everywhere bible, my French bible, my Russian new testament, our engraved wedding present bible, my illustrated children’s bible, my trendy teen-age NLT, and a good half a dozen+ new testaments stashed in useful places like the glove compartment, my purse, the inside pocket of my winter coat (my grandpa-in-law is a Gideon) . . . that’s half my book count on the bible alone. And it doesn’t take into account my husband’s bibles!)

    So in the end, if I did not throw away any bibles, I’d have room for maybe seven books? Out of all our hundreds? With a husband who might want a say on his half of them? When we have nephews and a niece who may need entertainment on occasion?

    This thought does not bring me joy.

    • That is an excellent question, because technically the Bible itself contains almost double the KonMari limit. Even just one, not to include your full collection. 🙂 I also like all those variables you pointed out. Must be considerate of others.

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  5. This may be the best blog post ever! This is completely legit and I agree with all of it!! You have sound reasoning GreAm😊❤️. My books are my joy….even if I do have more books than I can count….my collection is likely in the 4 digit land and then there’s my husbands and my kids collections….we are a book loving house and why yes my books are part of my decorating scheme!! Yes to all!

  6. Yessss!!! Best response to this outlandish suggestion. A thirty book limit — ha –may work for the number of books in a TBR pile?…Maybe… actually, not really. I know, limiting my library books might fit under 30…if I applied myself and exerted a great deal of self-control…which I don’t have much of when it comes to books sooooo…nope that doesn’t work either.

    And I know you asked for the books that would make our top thirty list but, really, why should we limit ourselves? How can a reader be so heartless as to place one book above another? That’s cruel and unusual punishment — both for the reader and the books so I can’t do that either. Sorry!

    • What a great idea! I should limit my TBR pile to 30 at a time. That seems much more reasonable. And I totally understand not wanting to name the 30…it’s one of those what-would-you-save-if-your-house-was-burning questions…hopefully always hypothetical.

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  7. Perfect response! I, personally, didn’t need justification 🙂 because I have no intention of getting rid of any of my who-knows-how-many books unless they are going to a home that will appreciate them as much as I do, but your reasons are great. And I also wondered if she intended her books to be part of the keepers. I can’t pick 30; I need them all! I have found a good place to donate, the VA Clinic bookshelf at the AF Base where we get medical care, but even then it’s agonizing to part with each and every book.

    • I agree–I actually enjoy giving away books to friends (if I think I probably won’t want to re-read them multiple times). And I’m glad you have a good place for your old books to meet new readers, though I agree that it’s hard to say goodbye. 🙂

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  8. Only 30 books??!!!! No way. Only today, my sister posted a picture on FB of a beautiful home library and attached my name to it. My family knows me well! I’ve lost count of how many books I have (many authors from Bethany House included), and will continue to purchase. My husband wants to know if I’m getting rid of any books before we move. Uh No! Next question!

  9. Great response, Amy! I whole-heartedly concur! I do accept the fact that I need to organize my books better–if I ever find time between the books I’m reading. Maybe someday! Unfortunately, my husband is a compulsive book keeper, too. We’re doomed! They’ll find us someday crushed by the bookshelves and piles of books, but we’ll have smiles on our faces!

  10. “I think Marie may have a point. 30 books seems like a reasonable limit.” said no avid reader ever.
    Really enjoyed your article!

  11. I’m sorry. There is no way I could even think about picking out 30 favorite books. I have way more books than most people need but my need is even more books. I have 2 libraries in my home that expanded when my daughters got married and left me the space. If God’s will I am planning on living in my house till I meet my Savior. And I have plenty of room for my books. I do have some double stacked but there is more room now that my hubby built me another bookcase. No one messes with my books. Let me just throw that out there. Lol! No joke! They give me joy and take me places I can’t go.

    • I’ve gotten plenty of odd looks from strangers at the airport. (In public, I try to keep my reactions to facial expressions, giggling, and weeping, but still…)

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  12. I like your response to this craze. I probably have 30 books in my to-be-read basket. Who knows how many books are on my multiple book shelves. I don’t know much about Marie Kondo’s methods and am not interested in finding out more. If there are precise ways to fold towels, socks, and who knows what else, I’d find that more stressful than freeing.

    • I think some people find it very nice to see rolled towels and whatnot in a drawer in order. But even those people were mentioning that they need way more than 30 books. 🙂 Which of course I’m always excited to see!

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  13. I have hundreds of books, print, and ebooks and I love them, I do not consider them clutter, I do purge once in a while. As a reviewer of books, I do get my share from authors and publishers and I always decide what book I will be keeping or what books I will be passing on to family members or the library.

  14. Such fun, Amy! Even with a fully loaded Kindle, more books on Amazon that aren’t on my Kindle, a ton more on my computer, I still have so many books around my house I can’t get rid of. If I could only keep 30 physical books, they would have to include my Bible and Bible study books I have. And my old hardback books my husband gave me as gifts. And the story books from when I was a girl. Oh wait! You said 30, not 300. 😦

  15. My girls would freak out if I had to get rid of all or some of my 40 childhood Mandie books….no way 30 books only would work! I can’t believe a supposedly intelligent person suggests this! Hasn’t she heard a child should have 1000 books read to him by the time they’re 5? How can you accomplish this without many books in the home? Limit books? Let’s just limit education and imagination too! And I just think of Belle in Disney’s cartoon Beauty and Beast and her ecstatic face upon seeing that library…that’s definitely my dream too!

  16. This is GREAT. Seriously. I have the “why I can’t get rid of my books” conversation with my husband several times a week. My books have become an albatross in my marriage, but DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE.

    Seriously though — we do live in a tiny house, so my compromise is this: I will get rid of a book only after I’ve read it. I give them away to my friends and on my blog and to Goodwill. If I haven’t read it yet, though, I will hoard it until the end of days. Right now, I could be sealed bunker-like in my house and have enough reading material to make it through ten years. There’s enough food to last about three days.

  17. I’ve been seeing this around my feeds and laugh every time. But, I also don’t understand people who aren’t readers. I think there are a lot of people who could do it in 5 books. Clearly, our civilization is failing.

  18. Pingback: Discussion post: The Great KonMari Book Debate – Reading in Between the Life…

  19. Pingback: Discussion post: The Great KonMari Book Debate – Reading in Between the Life…

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