Minimalism in Reading

by - Thursday, July 20, 2017

This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader with the theme - Designing for the future: trends we need to consider now

Minimalism is the new black, and it's currently taking the world by storm. 

I'm sure at some point you have come across the term minimalism. Whether it was hearing from a self-proclaimed minimalist, watching a viral video of a Japanese man living on three pairs of clothes on AJ+, or clicking a popular hashtag on Instagram (#minimalliving, #minimalism, or #minimalist, to name a few), you might be surprised to find that more and more Millennials are trending towards the minimalist lifestyle. 

But what exactly is minimalism? 

Is it simply the act of throwing away heaps and heaps of junk to make room for, well, even more, junk? 

While getting rid of stuff is a crucial part of the 'decluttering' process, Colin Wright from Exile Lifestyle explained minimalism as a reassessment of our priorities, to remove excessive luxuries that don't bring value to our lives. 

Well, books aren't just stuff, right? 

Admittedly, with the goal of fulfilling my 2016 New Year Resolutions - to be more focused and happier in life - I have also jumped on the bandwagon to experiment and have a first-hand experience of what the hype was all about. Here's a brief snapshot of my goal of living minimally. 

My first attempt at minimalism

Mission: To declutter the junk in my closet, throwing out worn out shoes, donating clothes that are few sizes too small (why I held on to those painful reminders completely baffled me) and re-organizing my wardrobe according to types and colors. 

Thoughts: It took a whole lot of effort, but given the ample amount of space I have in my closet, it was a refreshing change of scenery every morning as picking out clothes to wear became less of a burden and more of a grab-and-go situation.

My second attempt at minimalism 

Mission: To redesign the entire appearance of my blog, which was easier said than done considering I'm as bad at HTML and CSS codes as I am with math.

Thoughts: I got rid of tons of useless widgets, reinvented my branding logo, and now I'm finally content with the "fresh" minimalistic look I was aiming for. I've never been prouder of myself for having the courage to delete years of accumulated hard work (it wasn't as bad as it sounded) and focused on producing posts that are worthwhile. My minimalistic experience even extended to my bookstagram account where I featured a minimal-themed feed, simply because I have not many props to begin with.

My third (and failed) attempt

As much as I am trying to ease myself into adapting to a minimal way of living, I am struggling with my third attempt at lifestyle decluttering: BOOK HOARDING. Yes,like every hardcore book lover out there, I am guilty of having boxes and shelves of books that probably would constitute as an unhealthy obsession. 

Minimalism might as well just be a book hoarder's worst nightmare.

Current status: I tried donating some of my older childhood favorites but failed to find the will to let go of my prized YA/NA book collections. Honestly, I don't know if I will ever be strong enough to let go.

So this brings us to a serious question, will book hoarders ever embrace minimalism?

"You cannot have a taste for minimalist décor if you seriously read books." - Linda Grant, I Murdered My Library 

Seems like all hope is lost for us readers. If there is one thing about book hoarders I can relate to, it is the joy of having large bookshelves with top to bottom book shelves filled with an endless supply of books. 

Isn't this the kind of heaven we all dream of? To have a room full of books with bookshelves large enough we needed a ladder to reach for a book? Unfortunately, my unrealistic fantasy has led me to realize one bitter reality: I may never have the luxury of having the money or space to build my dream library. I'm literally overflowing with books right now that I forced myself to go on a book-buying ban because I'm broke and space-less. 

Therefore, are books a valuable possession, or an extensive luxury? 

I stumbled upon an enlightening read on The Minimalists during my research for writing this article. The author of the post, Joshua, described how he got rid of 2,000 books and started reading more. Intrigued by the title and curious at how he managed to accomplish such sorcery, I devoured his words like a woman on a mission, until a particular quote stopped me in my tracks.

"I thought these books made me somebody. They were a part of my identity: those books were a part of me."

*Cue lightbulb moment* 

When have books become a possession that owns you? 

"The real value was in the words - in the action of reading - not in the physical book themselves.

Isn't that the reason why we read in the first place? To devour the words and the emotions that accompany and not to just display the books on the shelves like trophies collecting dust? 

Because admit it, you are going to buy more books, you are going to have a never-ending pile of TBR, you are going to make a promise to yourself to finish reading all your books, and often times you'd feel dejected for failing. It's a vicious cycle, one that I'm sure most of us are all too familiar with. 

However, with reading devices becoming the norm of today's world and e-ARCs filling up the empty storage of our Kindles instead of the spaces in our bookshelves, is this a sign that book readers are finally embracing minimalism by purchasing lesser physical books and moving towards digital books, hence shifting the paradigm of modern day readers' viewpoint of reading?

All over the booksphere, the debates over physical versus digital books is still running rampant with most of the readers still preferring physical books to their respective digital copies. But, it is an undeniable fact, that digital publishing is already deeply integrated into the bookish community. It is literally impossible for a book to exist without the other. 

While I love the aesthetic aspects of good old traditional books (the experience of touching a book is oddly sensual), I am open to the idea of minimalism in reading as a trend for the future. In fact, I now have more books in my Kindle as compared to my physical shelf. After all, Millennials are modern day nomads. I hardly can move around with books trailing behind me now can I? 

Will digital publishing dominate the literary world? How profitable can the minimalism business be where the focus is having less for a greater value? Will minimalist readers have an adverse impact on the economy? What about the impact on the authors? So many questions left unanswered, but only time can tell the future. 

What I do know is that we have entered a futuristic age where the world's focus is to build faster, smaller and compact devices designed to make life easier. So it isn't really a surprise that the literary world will soon face an impending evolution. 

For entrepreneurs capitalizing on the minimalism business, maybe this could be a fruit for a thought. 

What are your opinions on being a minimalist reader? 

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