TBR List Declutter, Issue 42

Tangent: Social Media Prune

The title of this tangent is inspired by (stolen from) a recent podcast by Katy Bowman (episode #101: Social Media is (Still) Shaping Your Body), but I’ve been thinking about making a change in how I engage with social media for a long time.

There are a few things driving this desire:

  1. Social media helps me keep in touch with friends and family, but I am unsatisfied by the nature of these relationships as they exist online. I want to find a deeper alternative.
  2. Social media doesn’t always bring out the best in me. I find my pulse racing just as I read comments, and I break into a sweat when I consider commenting myself. Assuming positive intent is one of my goals (yes, my Happiness Project goals are still alive in my today-life. I should probably blog about that sometime), but I tend to assume the worst intent when I read comments. It doesn’t help that I feel like I need to guard against being taken in by Russian bots.
  3. My phone is affecting me physically. There are a couple of little things—weird eyesight stuff, pain in my fingers—that get better when I move away from my phone. Social media isn’t the only thing I do on my phone, but it’s the least important (with the possible exception of some of the podcast listening I do). If I’m looking for a way to spend less time on my phone, scrapping the least important things i do on my phone would probably be a good start.

I don’t really have that many social media accounts. I got rid of Twitter several years ago, and I’m on LinkedIn and Nextdoor.com, but while they’re technically social media, they don’t demand the same level of maintenance that Facebook and Twitter do. I guess a blog is a form of social media, but it doesn’t feel like a problem to me. If it takes over, I take a break.

That leaves my two biggest social media vehicles: Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram I’m not sure about, but Facebook is a constant struggle for me. I am almost certainly giving Facebook more than I’m getting from it, but there are still positives I’m afraid of losing by dropping Facebook entirely. For example, there is a local homeschool group that only exists on Facebook. Okay, it also exists in the real world, but all real-world activities are scheduled through the Facebook group, and I wouldn’t know about these if I weren’t on Facebook. And I have friends who have almost entirely replaced e-mail with Facebook messenger. If I scrap Facebook, I cut off myself—and my children—from these ways of communicating, something that’s particularly concerning as recent transplants. Will my children miss out on social opportunities because their mother can’t engage with social media in a healthy manner?

I don’t know how to reconcile my need for connection with my need to separate from social media. In the short-term, I’m planning a social media fast for either July or August (my spouse doesn’t believe I’ll actually do it. He might be right, but I’m still planning it). There are fewer homeschool activities planned for the summer months, so hopefully a summer break won’t cut my children and me off from too many opportunities to meet potential friends. Maybe a month or two off will help me reevaluate both what I give and what I get from social media and maybe even yield some insights about how to meet our needs for connection outside of the social media framework.

So, my question for you: How do you meet your needs for making and maintaining connections, particularly outside of social media?

Visual Interest:


Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.


Titles 551-570:

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
Author: Nelson, Jandy
Date Added: 3/5/2015

Verdict: Keep. I’m not super enthusiastic about this one, but the critical reviews have piqued me interest.

Project List: none.

Title: Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams
Author: Martin, Paul R.
Date Added: 3/8/2015

Verdict: Keep. Consistent with my plan to be more Queen of Hearts with the nonfiction titles on my TBR, I was all set to cut this one, but then I read the reviews, which are good but not in the Oprah “this book changed my life!” way that annoys the heck out of me. Plus, as someone who persists in thinking of sleep as a waste of precious time, I could use something to get me excited about turning in each night.

Project List: none.

Title: The Kingdom of God Is Within You
Author: Tolstoy, Leo
Date Added: 3/8/2015

Verdict: Keep. See my reasons for keeping Hadji Murad from TBR Declutter #41 and add to that my growing interest in philosophy, and you’ll see why I’m holding onto this one.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Not for Ourselves Alone
Author: Hallman, Laurel
Date Added: 3/11/2015

Verdict: Go. Do I own this one? I think I own this one. I’m still not interested in it anymore. Nor am I all that enthusiastic about UU at the moment, but that’s another story.

Project List: n/a

Title: Year of Wonders
Author: Brooks, Geraldine
Date Added: 3/12/2015

Verdict: Keep. I was going to keep this one anyway because 1) historical fiction, 2) plague, and 3) Geraldine Brooks (although I always mix up her name with Gwendolyn Brooks’ and then am all confused when I pick up one of her books), but then I read a Goodreads review about how the first 255 pages were incredible and the last fifty were horrible, and it redoubled my enthusiasm for this one.

Project List: none.

Title: March
Author: Brooks, Geraldine
Date Added: 3/12/2015

Verdict: Keep. I might be keeping too many Geraldine Brooks titles, but oh, well.

Project List: none.

Title: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Author: Barbery, Muriel
Date Added: 3/12/2015

Verdict: Keep. Why haven’t I read this one yet?

Project List: none.

Title: Boy, Lost
Author: Olsson, Kristina
Date Added: 3/13/2015

Verdict: Keep. One of several titles I added from a list on Brona’s Books to fill in some gaps in my knowledge of Australian literature (please don’t ask which list. I can’t find the list now, but I know it’s from Brona’s Books because I put a note on Goodreads that says, “Australia book, from list on Brona’s Books.”) This one still interests me a lot despite the annoying comma in the title. Is this an Australian lit thing? The comma in All the Birds, Singing didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for that one, so I’ll try to look past in this case, too.

Project List: none.

Title: Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy
Author: Stow, Randolph
Date Added: 3/13/2015

Verdict: Keep. Another from Brona’s Books. The main reason that I’m keeping this one is that I always picture an American Colonial boy when I read the title and then am perplexed by the synopsis. Why I like this feeling is a mystery.

Project List: none.

Title: Picnic at Hanging Rock
Author: Lindsay, Joan
Date Added: 3/13/2015

Verdict: Keep. Last Australian lit title from the bunch I pulled from the elusive list on Brona’s Books. A classic. Maybe it belongs on my classics list?

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
Author: Putnam, Robert D.
Date Added: 3/15/2015

Verdict: Go. No longer interested. My children can fend for themselves.

Project List: n/a

Title: Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Author: Norris, Kathleen
Date Added: 3/19/2015

Verdict: Go. On each of the several cross-country road trips I’ve taken, I have looked out the window in an area far from population centers, maybe at a house in the middle of a field, as in the cover picture for this book, and thought, “People live here.” Not like it’s strange that people live there. People have to live somewhere. Just that it seems to mean something different to choose to live in a place that fewer people choose to live than to go where lots of people are. Moving to New York or LA is a cliche in part because millions of people have wanted to do it and have done it. But what draws people to live in places that don’t have the obvious appeal of a major metropolitan area? When someone says, “I’m moving to Los Angeles,” people nod their heads, relating to the inclination even if they don’t share it themselves, and when someone says, “I want to move to Sioux Falls,” people furrow their brows and ask, “Why Sioux Falls?” even though there have to be at least as many very good reasons to move to South Dakota as there are to move to Southern California. They’re just different reasons, and I’m curious to learn about those reasons. I think this is why I added this title, but looking at it now, I find that I’m not interested in reading this particular memoir. I’d rather read a novel about South Dakota, or a series of interrelated short stories, or have an in-person conversation with someone who’s chosen to live in South Dakota. I don’t know why this title is less appealing to me than those other options, but it is.

Project List: n/a

Title: Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life
Author: Goldberg, Natalie
Date Added: 3/19/2015

Verdict: Go, in alignment with my philosophy that if I want to write, I should do more writing and less reading books about writing.

Project List: n/a

Title: Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers
Author: See, Carolyn
Date Added: 3/19/2015

Verdict: Go. See above

Project List: n/a

Title: Fashion – A Philosophy
Author: Svendsen, Lars Fr. H.
Date Added: 3/19/2015

Verdict: Keep. I have a friend who loves fashion and sees in it more than just fluffing one’s feathers. I don’t care about fashion, but I do care about my friend, and maybe this book will help give me a better appreciation for a topic that is meaningful to her.

Project List: none.

Title: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle, #1)
Author: Jones, Diana Wynne
Date Added: 3/22/2015

Verdict: Keep. We own it. I plan to read it. Eventually.

Project List: none.

Title: How to Be a Victorian
Author: Goodman, Ruth
Date Added: 3/23/2015

Verdict: Keep. Whenever I read history or historical fiction, I always wonder, “How did they go to the bathroom?” I’m being ruthless with nonfiction right now, but this one makes the cut because it sounds like it might answer that question.

Project List: none.

Title: The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man
Author: Heschel, Abraham Joshua
Date Added: 3/24/2015

Verdict: Keep. A few years ago (march 2015, apparently), I became interested in the idea of Sabbath. The ritual of rest and renewal intrigued me, both in its practicality and in its elusiveness. How does one carve out, set aside, sanctify time each week when there are soccer games to drive to and kids’ concerts to attend and groceries to buy and closets to clean? I tried this one back in 2015 and it confused me with its references to Philo and Seneca and Aristotle, with the idea of Sabbath as the culmination of the week’s work, the point of the work itself. Today, reading excerpts online, I think I might get it, not just because I’m more familiar with philosophy than I was three years ago, but also because I’m at a different place in my journey (I have yet to explore my assumption that my life is a journey, so I’m sticking with this framework for now). For so long I’ve sought meaning in the things that I do. Is it possible that the meaning is in the things that I don’t? Maybe that’s not what this book is about at all, but I think it has a strong chance of at least helping me look through the prism from another angle.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics?

Title: Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
Author: Muller, Wayne
Date Added: 3/24/2015

Verdict: Go. See my note above about my interest in Sabbath. In 2015, I added three books. Two of them I’m keeping. This one I am not. I’m looking for more of the why of Sabbath rather than the how. I crave the how, I want to implement it right away, invest today so I can start reaping the returns, but I know that’s just more of the same approach that’s left me unsatisfied up to now. So, turning away to focus on the why for a bit, and hopefully find my way to my own how.

Project List: n/a

Title: This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems 1979 – 2012
Author: Berry, Wendell
Date Added: 3/24/2015

Verdict: Keep. See my notes above. Combine those comments with my desire to read more Wendell Berry, and you’ve got the reason why I’m keeping this one.

Project List: none.


Six more titles off the list for a total of 213 of 570 (28.4% of the original 750, 37.4% of the 570 I’ve considered so far).

Any thoughts about which I kept and which I tossed?

3 Replies to “TBR List Declutter, Issue 42”

  1. Nearly everytime i try to go through the books that are taking over my home, i have trouble getting rid of many of them. If I can get a full box, i donate it somewhere.

    social media is a weird thing. i so rarely get anything positive from twitter, yet i can’t stay away from it. facebook is mostly see to see what photos my family has posted, I have unsubscribed (or whatever they call it) to at least half the acquaintances i friended over the years. LinkedIn is mostly “life coaching” spam. how to connect with people? my IRL friends know I do better with smaller groups, so i meet up with someone once a week or so for a drink or coffee. i text my friends (who I see all the time). I chit chat with people at work. I start conversations with employees at the bookstores I frequent, at the grocery store. i joined a book club that meets once a month, i go to the meeting even if I haven’t read the book. I reserve as much of my social energy as possible for interacting w/people in real life. I keep my phone hidden in my purse when i’m at home, so i’m not temped to “just check twitter”. does it work? sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like this from your comment: “I reserve as much of my social energy as possible for interacting w/people in real life.” I hadn’t thought of it in terms of energy before, aside from knowing that FB drains energy from me.

      A book club is a good idea, I think. After I read your comment, I started looking around for book clubs in my area, and found one to join that might be a good fit. I’m going to check out their next event.

      I like the idea of keeping the phone less accessible at home, but how do you keep up with texts from friends?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i text back a few hours later, or the next morning, same as i would an e-mail. my friends have gotten used to that.

        Liked by 1 person

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