Archive for April 13th, 2011

Spring Cleaning Gone Too Far?

13 April 2011

By Christina Morin

With a visit from my parents fast approaching, I spent much of this weekend engaged in that age-old activity prompted by the thought of mum coming to town: cleaning. In fact, I spring-cleaned the house, deciding that this visit of my super-clean, totally uncluttered mom was the perfect time to scrub the floorboards, tidy the under stairs cupboard, and generally de-clutter the place from a year’s worth of accumulated stuff. As I hoovered, dusted, and scrubbed, I thought about the extreme act of de-cluttering performed by Stuart Walton, who, in a piece for The Guardian on 9 April, spoke of ‘laborious[ly] disburdening’ himself of the vast majority of his considerable collection of books. While moving house, Walton was inspired to donate most of his 2,000 odd books to charity shops, in what was obviously a painful but, it seems, ultimately liberating experience for him. As Walton correctly observes, ‘we develop bonds of intellectual and emotional affection to books, which makes the act of disposing of them seem like wanton ingratitude’; yet, he doesn’t record any regrets about his decision to offload his library. Rather the opposite, in fact, Walton questions the need and desire to keep books in the first place now that we have firmly entered the digital age: ‘space is at a premium and limitless quantities of literature, music and film can be stored digitally [… so] [w]hy keep a hard copy?’. Now in his new, almost book-free house, Walton follows a strict policy of ‘buy, read, flog on Amazon Marketplace’. Read more