THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo | Review

“Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.”   {Goodreads}

Sometimes it seems as though this book is everywhere. From bookstores to blogs, it felt like everyone had read this small, strange book but me. Until now.

Listening to this audio book was a… surprising experience. Once I adjusted to the soothing yet strangely robotic narrator, I found myself having mixed reactions to much of what Kondo proposed. What I imagined would be a practical book about tidying up actually advocates an emotional journey to find what brings you joy and to foster a stronger, more reciprocal connection with your home. While this is a fine turn for the book to take, I just wasn’t expecting such a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

 

Amidst this book’s strangeness (I’ll get to that later), there were several parts of that made me want to grab a pen and write down a quote to look at when I feel lost. Kondo is an excellent writer, able to construct the motivational, lyrical messages out of fairly simple concepts.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

While some of her advice struck me as quite ridiculous, quotes like the one shown above helped me stay rooted to her narrative. Without gems like these, I probably would not have enjoyed the book very much. However, this momentary eloquence is precisely the issue: one minute she would be saying something motivational in a realistic, practical, and applicable sense, and the next she would be arguing that socks go on vacation and deserve to live the life of luxury:

“I pointed to the balled-up socks. “Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?” That’s right. The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday. They take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet. The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest. But if they are folded over, balled up, or tied, they are always in a state of tension, their fabric stretched and their elastic pulled. They roll about and bump into each other every time the drawer is opened and closed. Any socks and stockings unfortunate enough to get pushed to the back of the drawer are often forgotten for so long that their elastic stretches beyond recovery.”

I’m sorry: WHAT?! My socks cannot adequately rest because they bump into each other in my sock drawer? Is being balled up giving them wrinkles? Is that little buzzing I here sometimes actually my socks screaming out in agony from my dresser? I distinctly remember listening to this section and pausing my audio book so I could soak up the ridiculousness of this passage. I was genuinely bothered by the fact that Kondo could actually think that socks have feelings. Surely this is just a metaphor? Someone please tell me that she doesn’t expect me to cater to the whims of my socks?

But the bizarre statements didn’t stop there. She often urges the reader to foster a deeper relationship with their belongings, talking to them physically and emotionally through touch.

“Open the drawer and run your hands over the contents. Let them know you care and look forward to wearing them when they are next in season. This kind of “communication” helps your clothes stay vibrant and keeps your relationship with them alive longer.”

I can see it now: my roommate wakes up one morning to find me running my hands over all of my clothing, whispering sweet nothings to them as I take years to decide what to wear. How do I choose something when I know that all of my other outfits will be desperately disappointed that I didn’t pick them? The danger of these sections is that they diminish the credibility of Kondo’s other advice that may be valuable and rational. It’s difficult to take someone seriously when they’re suggesting such ridiculous ideas.

To be fair, there is some great advice in this book. Despite my sarcasm, I do appreciate Marie Kondo’s overall message: our surroundings are influential aspects of our lives that can work with us or against us. Changing our environment for the better means that many things about our personal lives (motivation, organization, mood, etc.) may also improve. However, Kondo could certainly have shared this important message in a way that didn’t make me question whether or not I should be chatting with my underwear drawer. 

Would I read this book again? Probably not, although parts may be useful to turn back to in the future. Would I recommend this book? Yes, but with the caveat to take everything with a grain of salt. As much as I love a clean room, I’d rather not have to worry about being an expert conversationalist with my wardrobe.

What are your thoughts on this book? Have you put any of its advice into practice? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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24 thoughts on “THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo | Review

  1. I’m definitely an advocate of asking if each item in my home brings me joy. Part of that is I have anxiety. If something doesn’t bring me joy, it’s an item I have to “worry about.” At first, I wondered if she was being “creative” with the argument that balling up socks actually damages the material, but then she lost me by saying clothes need visited. MAYBE the clothes remember their former lives as, like, cotton plants? And some people argue we should talk to plants, so….our clothes are basically plants on hangers that need verbal support??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that you tried to find some reasonable explanation for this. :p My main issue is that talking to your possessions seems as if it would make you closer to them, and then it would be harder to do her suggested thing of getting rid of them. Like, if I talk to my sweater everyday but haven’t worn it in two years, can I really get rid of it? I’v

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that some of her points were really good, and I would love to do a good de-clutter of my house. But when she started talking about the socks and also how women should unpack their purses at the end of every day, she lost me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel like your review really sums up my thoughts about this book perfectly! She had some great gems of wisdom, but sometimes, it just went too far. Although, I must admit, I did like the part where she said to thank the items for their use before donating them or throwing them away. I realize that sounds a little out there, but I’m a super sentimental person, and as odd as it sounds, it actually helps and I don’t feel bad about getting rid of things that are “nice” but just don’t really use anymore. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is largely what I’ve heard from other reviews–that the book has its moments but it’s also very weird. I think the main take-away I’ve seen that I like is asking if something brings you joy. Why do you own it? Do you need to own it? I semi-regularly get rid of things I don’t use or like (knick-knacks someone gave me that I don’t like or care about, for instance; I wish I could get people to stop giving them to me in general).

    I also don’t think the unpacking your purse thing someone mentioned above is that weird either. My biggest issue is that doing this daily (along with the other things I assume you’re supposed to do daily) would end up fairly time-consuming, but regularly taking things out of your purse and then putting back in what you actually need is pretty useful. I try to do this once in a while too. I guess the daily thing makes it a habit, but you could also just write it on your calendar for once a week or something, so you don’t forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely take it with a grain of salt, I’m sure she was just trying to inject a bit of silliness or light-heartedness to an otherwise boring subject. 🙂 I think she was probably trying to make a point of appreciating your clothes and caring for them as items of value, otherwise what’s the point of having them? It would then maybe make you less likely to buy cheap fast-fashion throw-away things that become clutter in little time. Also it probably brings an element of mindfulness to an area of life (i.e. clothes, laundry) that can sometimes feel messy, overwhelming or chaotic. And I’ve sure had socks that sat balled up in my drawer so long they lost some of their elasticity (don’t judge! haha) although I still ball them up, I just clean them out every so often now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am glad I found this review. Like you said, it is all over the internet and I was contemplating if I should get it. Now I have to check it, at least ironically.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oooh, this reminds me of a book I read over the summer, called A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto. I would say that Matsumoto’s book was more relatable and usable to me because there weren’t any mentions of socks having feelings 😂, but I think Matsumoto and Kondo’s books are both related in the sense that their goal is to increase people’s mindfulness about the items they possess. Most people have so much clutter in their living spaces or rooms, and I do believe that a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind. That’s probably what Kondo was getting at when mentioning the socks — just to have more mindfulness.

    Or maybe she does believe that socks have genuine needs. I wouldn’t know. 😋

    I would recommend A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind if you want something similar! It’s a really short read (you can probably finish it in an hour or two) & inspired me to clean up my life a bit. Great review, Holly! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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