Reading Challenge

RC2017: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I started reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with a fair amount of skepticism. I certainly didn’t expect to come away feeling as inspired as I am, and the spiritual impression The KonMari Method made on me is just as much of a surprise.

I included this book in my Reading Challenge mainly because I wanted to read the parody, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight, and didn’t want to judge Marie Kondo’s book without actually opening it. However, like I already mentioned, I was surprised at how much I got out of the latter, and not just about tidying.

For any reader unfamiliar with The KonMari Method for decluttering and organizing, it is theoretically simple: “Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go.” If you are a “mood cleaner” and keeper-of-all-things-sentimental like I am, this is quite a turnoff. And when I read this in the introduction of Marie Kondo’s book, I was turned off. Well, more than I already was. I knew before reading that Marie Kondo’s method is about keeping things that spark joy, which outside of this book and outside of any knowledge of The Method, seems slightly silly and unproductive. To someone like me, anyway. After reading, however, I’m wishing I had picked up this book sooner, and learned about The KonMari Method and its steps towards joy and happiness earlier.

Marie Kondo has a pretty casual yet catchy tone, so I was hooked on her writing by the first ten or so pages. By page 41, I was ready to turn my apartment upside down and tidy it until I dropped, because discarding isn’t about collecting clutter, odds and ends, papers, and old clothes and just getting rid of them. The process of discarding and tidying is about “choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.” The KonMari Method is about touching each article of clothing, each book, scrap of paper, miscellaneous item, and article of sentimental value (in that order) and taking inventory, reflecting on why you are hanging on to each item, and either deciding that it sparks joy or that you need to let it go.

The most challenging parts of this book, and The Method, for me include the Empty your bag every day and Unread books sections. Marie Kondo suggests to empty your bag at the end of every day, which, after going through each step of The Method, will be easy-breezy because each item in your bag and the bag itself will have a place to go. I clean my bag (and purse) out almost never. I only do so when I’m switching bags and purses, and when I’m in the mood to organize my closet. And like Marie Kondo says, this has led to me forgetting my ID, buying multiples of the same lipstick, losing hair pieces, and so on. So while this is a tactic I should employ, it will take some time to make it habitual.

As far as unread books go, I’m a great offender of buying books with the intention to start them immediately, until I buy more. Maybe I’ll leave them unread on my shelves, maybe I’ll start reading and leave them half-read on my shelves, and then maybe I’ll finish reading a few. And so on and so on. Anyway, on the topic of books, Marie Kondo says:

Books are essentially paper – sheets of paper printed with letters and bound together. Their true purpose is to be read, to convey the information to their readers…There is no meaning in their just being on your shelves.

Yeah, okay, BUT…and Marie Kondo continues:

Books you have read have already been experienced and their content is inside you, even if you don’t remember…So when deciding which books to keep, forget about whether you think you’ll read it again or whether you’ve mastered what’s inside. Instead, take each book in your hand and decide whether it moves you or not.

While I’m still assuring all of my books – especially those multiple editions and half-read titles – that I will never do away with any of them, now that I’ve read all of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I feel more interested in really taking stock of the books on my shelves. I would guess that at least half of the books in my possession (which is not a gigantic number, but still substantial) are unread – and it’s likely more than that. And now I’ve begun to wonder if I will dislike some of those books, and if I do, I don’t want to own them – and they certainly would be happier in a loving home. So I’m going to make an effort to subtly direct the KonMari method at my bookshelves. In fact, I’m turning this step of The KonMari Method into my Reading Challenge for 2018 (more on this here). I can do it, I can do it.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up | Marie Kondo

I don’t want to give too much more away about The Method or the book, because I think if you are at all interested in tidying your home or making changes elsewhere in your life, you should have your own experience with Marie Kondo’s words, stories, and techniques. So I conclude this post with the following.

This book is more about keeping your residence clean and organized. It’s more than tips on how to tidy. Through the instruction and through Marie Kondo’s personal and clientele experiences, you will be reminded that caring for the things and people in your life make your relationships and connections (and you) flourish; with less clutter comes more contentment; and that it’s better for you to organize the specific things in your storage spaces than add more cupboards, dressers, and shelves to your storage spaces to hide the clutter (okay, that is about tidying but I hope you get the point).

Now that I’m in love with this book, my skepticism has transferred to The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. I now feel uneasy about a parody of Marie Kondo’s work, so we’ll see how it goes. Onward!


  • anhistorianabouttown

    I’m a little hesitant to go near this book, as I’ve had a few friends read it, discard half of what they own (or more), only to hugely regret it down the road. I think I would be willing to try it on my TBR list like you are!

    • kmac14

      Even if you aren’t looking to tidy, it’s definitely still worth reading (although Marie Kondo would likely disagree with that). I’d be interested in hearing what you think if you do!

    • kmac14

      Wow, that’s a feat! I’ve been checking more books out at the library to help myself cut back on buying books. It works, most of the time. 🙂

  • hotmessmemoir

    I want to try this book then I know I’d be faced with overdue bills. That’s half the reason I have clutter….I don’t want to face the bills. If they are unopened, they aren’t really there right? Yeah, warped sense about this, I know. I also have 2 sons which makes “tidying up” a challenge. “Clean your room!” I say. What they heard was, “Build an addition onto the home.” I may check this out at the library. Thanks for the review!

  • Snuffy

    I really enjoyed this book when I read it and it left to lasting impressions on me. 1. Your home should only contain things that bring you joy and 2. How my poor socks suffer because I roll them up! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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