Minimalist Book Club

Simplify your bookshelf, enrich your relationships

About the Minimalist Book Club

The idea for the Minimalist Book Club was conceived several years ago. I was already on a journey into the philosophy of minimalism, inspired by the podcast and Netflix documentary by The Minimalists. A voracious appetite for reading had left my bookshelves cluttered and full of stories that I had loved, but would likely never read again. And so in a pique of decluttering fervor, I collected all of the books I knew I wouldn’t ever pick up again, and promptly deposited them at a charity shop.

In the moment I felt the usual sense of relief and satisfaction that comes with a big purge like that. But a few weeks later I grew to feel a little dissatisfied with how I had gone about it. I had certainly benefited from the headspace gained from reduced clutter, but I feel like I could have done it better. Found a more meaningful and deliberate way to go about the donation.

It occurred to me that I had at some point considered lending most (if not all) of those books to a friend or family member. The prospect of gifting a good read to a loved one, and being able to then talk about that book together spoke to me at a fundamental level. I could give any and every book I read to someone I cared about, knowing (or perhaps hoping) that they would experience the same joy from it as I.

However I was certain that I did not want to be lending books. I was finished with these tomes, and wouldn’t be revisiting them. I did not need or want them back. But simply palming off my unwanted possessions onto others who may not to be burdened by them didn’t feel very minimalist either.

Thus the idea for the Minimalist Book Club. What if I gave the book to a friend, with the specific instruction to pass it along when they were finished? That would absolve me and my friend of its ownership. How could I guarantee that the book would continue to find its way to new owners time and again? That solution came very quickly: I always write a note in the front of books I give as gifts, so why not do the same?

This website was born as a way to propagate the idea, and to help further its spread. As an avid user of open source software, I am a big fan of the concept of viral licenses, and while I have no control over the trajectory of the books after I let go of them, I like to think that they will continue to spread, and that like a virus, the idea will continue to spread out across a community of minimalists and readers.

The first book that entered the Club was The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I hand wrote the blurb into the front cover, and I have no idea where it is now. I gave it to a friend, who passed it on, and on, and on. It is long gone, and I like to think that it is somewhere far from where it started, perhaps in another country or continent.

About Me

I am Billie O’Dwyer, a bad minimalist from Leeds. I have been attempting to pursue a more minimalist lifestyle since around 2016, and now I’m trying to force it onto other people. You can find out more about me and my work at my website.