Much has been written about the rumour that decluttering queen Marie Kondo’s suggested in her new Netflix program Tidying Up that she prefers to keep 30 books in her house.
Kondo approach dictates that items that don’t spark joy should be thrown or given away. I haven’t seen the show, but given all of the debate filling my social media feeds, I know far more about decluttering than I ever wanted to.
Some bibliophiles have argued with Kondo’s approach to books, saying that a house should be full of books, with piles trailing from the bedside table to a heaving bookshelf.
“Make room for more books by getting rid of your tv”, one Twitter commenter said.
Others have said that they would prefer to throw away all of the books that sparked joy in favour of the ones that made them cry. Take your Maeve Binchy, I’ll hold onto my Primo Levi and John Green, they said.
If you take a look at my bookshelf, and my tbr pile in particular, you will have no doubt about my opinion. In fact, when we were renovating our house, a huge bookshelf was a feature, ensuring that I never have to throw away a book. Clearly, I know myself well enough to realise that if I don’t make space for my books, there will be no space in the house for anything else. I sitting on piles of the books while eating at the dinner table, or clothes being squeezed out of the wardrobes by books …
Australian author Maxine Beneba Clarke added to the debate by claiming that those who scorned Kondo’s advice were privileged to own so many books, and suggested giving books that had already been read to those who could not afford them. The argument was sensible, and made me look uneasily upon my well-stacked bookcase.
But apart from all of that, if you had to keep just 30 of your books, what would they be? I love a list, and as Kondo put forward the number of 30, here are the books that I would keep if I (god forbid) had to declutter my bookshelf.
My top 30*
All That I Am by Anna Funder
The Choke by Sofie Laguna
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
100 Years of Solitude by Garbriel Garcia Marquez
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Brick Lane by Zadie Smith
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollingsworth
What Katie Did by Susan Coolidge
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Praise by Andrew McGahan
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
*List will most likely change several times in the space of a day. Even now I’m remembering some incredible books that really should be in there … Perhaps this is a sign that I would miserably fail if I ever tried to declutter. Phew, that was a close one.