nonfiction, reviews

Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

22318578The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Marie Kondo
Translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano
213 pages
Published in 2014 by Ten Speed Press
Source: I bought it

English artist William Morris once famously said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering has rewritten that quote stating that everything in your house should bring you joy and be useful. Emphasis on joy.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, author Marie Kondo, swears that if you follow her method on decluttering and tidying, you will never have to declutter your house again. Based on that claim alone, you can see why so many people have added this book to their to-be read lists. It’s why I decided to buy this book instead of waiting for my hold (number 151!) to come through at the library.

After years of helping clients declutter and clean their home, Kondo has developed a method, called The KonMari Method, which she gives in detail to readers. According to the author, there’s an order to decluttering: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and things of sentimental value. The whole time you declutter, she wants you to ask yourself if the item makes you happy. I agree. Pretty much every item of clothing I own makes me feel good when I wear it. If it doesn’t, it goes. Life is too short to wear clothes I feel self-conscious in.

I had a few problems with this book. First, it could be pretty repetitive. The author tells readers over and over again how not one client has rebounded yet after accepting her help. That’s great but I don’t need to read that fact in so many sections.

Another problem I encountered is when I started reading the section on organizing books. As a homeschooler and a bookworm, I own at least 1,000 books. After years of paring down my collection, I know that almost every book in my home is needed. Those that aren’t, like a few ARCS, are ones that I’m trying to read before the baby’s arrival in July.

First, the author believes that books are mainly for conveying information. What?! Don’t tell a bookworm that!! Books are just more than that. They teach, give comfort, and can offer meaning to the situations we go through in life. They’re not just paper and ink. Do I believe that a person can have too many books? Yes, I do. But I also believe that it’s not a bad thing to own a few unread books. If you haven’t touched certain shelves in years, (I’m looking at my little sisters), you should look long and hard at what you own. Suggesting that books and bookcases can go in the closet reminds me of the time my ex-boyfriend said the same thing. He’s an ex for a reason.

While Kondo will likely offer new advice to some readers, she mostly reminded me of what I already knew. Here’ the gist of it:

• Surround yourself with things that give you joy.
• Declutter your home in one go, (if you can), then tidy up. That way you don’t get distracted and later discouraged.
• Everything should have a place.

While I didn’t love the book, I would still recommend it. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Want your own copy? Leave a comment stating that you want this book and I’ll send you my copy. U.S. readers only.

19 thoughts on “Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo”

  1. You’ve voiced my main fear about this book – that it’s pretty much a summary of things I already knew. Which is, everything you listed in “the gist.” 😉 Definitely agree that books have far more value than conveying information!

  2. I’d be interested in reading this book, but as a major hoarder I don’t think it would help me to get over my emotional attachment to things. Almost everything in my house brings me some sort of “joy” but I still need to get rid of most of it. I should probably give it a try though!

  3. I’ve been irritated by how many of my friends think this is a great book and it’s changed their lives to get rid of stuff that doesn’t “bring them joy.” I’m glad to see that you found her advice about books to be pretty useless. I’m wondering…how can you tell if a person has too many books? If she can’t lay her hands on a certain one within a certain number of minutes? If there are too many she hasn’t read?

  4. I have a bookcase in my closet, but only because I have no more room outside of the closet for it! 🙂 I have this book in my TBR – I think I mostly want to read it because I love the title.

  5. I saw something on another review about Kondo’s attitude towards books and got a bit worried. Like you, I don’t necessarily think book purges are a bad thing. But her rules—from what I’ve read—don’t make any sense for bibliophiles.

    Also, after reading a bunch (one) of self help books where reading is disparaged or dismissed, I’m simultaneously annoyed and appreciative of the irony.

  6. Does this book provide a ‘How to Declutter’ section(s)? That is, something to get your feet wet and get started. I do decluttering too often though I always maintain I don’t have too much stuff. I just don’t like having too much stuff and my margin for “too much” is pretty narrow. But I try to do different rooms at different times so that I am not doing the whole house at the same time.

    1. The author wants you to declutter in one go. Don’t go room by room or even give yourself a set time. Gather all of your clothes and go through them piece by piece. Then you do the same for the rest of the categories I wrote down above. Hope that helps. 🙂

      1. Oh wow – that would tire me out. I usually tend to declutter – clean – reorganize before moving to the next set. That makes me feel that I accomplished something, but I can see how decluttering in one go is beneficial – at least no need to keep procrastinating or losing motivation halfway through.

  7. I have this one. I actually bought it for my daughter, who has what I consider hoarding issues. Needless to say, it didn’t work. I don’t think she even got two chapters in before she decided that she didn’t agree with the author. LOL.

    I am curious to read it just to see what she has to say. That doesn’t mean I will adopt any of her ideas. I know when we were trying to sell our house, our realtor recommended packing up all of the books. I said no. Our house sold in three weeks anyway. So that is my little FU to all of those people who insist books are clutter and unnecessary to a home.

  8. Ah, too bad! I think I could use some decluttering advice, but I think I’d be frustrated by the author advertising herself so much.

  9. I never got around to reviewing this one, but I basically agree — mostly common sense stuff that’s harder to implement than it is to say. But the idea of thinking about things that bring joy helped me think about clutter and “stuff” in a new way that I appreciated.

  10. I picked up a copy of this book at the library because of all the rave reviews and ended up returning it after only a few pages. I just couldn’t stand her constant assertion that her clients have never relapsed. It was counterproductive for me — I immediately started suspecting that wasn’t true. I do need to do a big purge, but this book just wasn’t the kick in the pants I needed.

  11. Well, huh. I’m too late? Maybe Heather can send it to me after she’s done with it. I am better about clutter than I used to be but I still have too many ‘junk drawers’ and just can’t seem to pitch it all. I just might need that thingamabob, paintbrush, key chain, button.

  12. I had the same reaction to her section about books – owning only 30 books would not bring me joy!! I also proudly display my books, I would never keep them in a shoe cupboard. I also had a few other negative reactions to her philosophy (not keeping anything in the shower would drive me so bonkers), but overall it really motivated me to do a really thorough purging of my own possessions, I got rid of so much stuff. In the spirit of minimizing possessions, I read this on eBook. 🙂 My review is here:

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