Before I speak about Marie Kondo’s book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, I want to share something.

In the last 40 years, I have moved homes 19 times. Ten of those were after I got married, 18 years ago. So it’s reasonable to assume I know something about clutter, discarding and the overwhelm that all of it can cause.

Now, I am going to ask you something. Do you believe in timing? Do you think that there is such a thing as books coming into your life at the right moment and the right time?

When dear Natasha who blogs here, gifted me this book last November, I had no idea that a show by the same name was brewing on Netflix. (Still haven’t watched it, because I must be among the only Neanderthals who doesn’t have Netflix yet) πŸ˜‰

 

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I’ve always liked to clean. More than I like to cookπŸ˜‰ . So when I got this book as a gift from @natzcosmicrain I was so thrilled ❀️🎁 . Soon after I got it, a friend dropped by and saw this book on my shelf and was eager to borrow it. I gave it to her and just got it back yesterday. . This, then, will be my 3rd book of 2019. . Review will be up on Goodreads by the end of the week. . . . . . . . . . . . #TBR #Reading #bookaddict #bookstagram #bookslover #booklover #bibliophile #bookaholic #bookstagrammer #bookish #bookworm #lovereading #ilovebooks #reader #readers #booklove #NonFiction #AmReading #EntrepreneurLifestyle #Konmari #MarieKondo #TidyingUp #mariekondomethod #konmarimethod #bookreading #goodreadschallenge

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Although I wanted to start the book right away, I had to wait to start reading it since a friend of mine wanted to read it first. When I finally got around to reading it, I had already begun 2019 with my word of the year which is ‘Depth’. In many ways, I am glad I waited, because how I responded to this book was completely transformed by that word of the year.

Tidying

Kondo begins with a history of tidying and why she felt drawn to it, even as a child. Honestly, I could only partly relate to this bit because as a child I was more drawn to reading than anything else. But there was something in the way she spoke of it that compelled me to keep reading.

As the book progresses, she outlines why tidying is an important part of one’s life and why we must make place in our homes to breathe. This applies to everything that we possess.

β€œThe space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Marie Kondo

I can’t quite explain what this quote does for me, because I can feel it in my bones. In the same way that letting go of relationships or bad memories makes you feel lighter, letting go of physical clutter is like a heavy rock that has been lifted from your shoulders. I’ve seen this happen every time I move homes.

That sense of freshness when I walk into an empty house, that sense of lightness when I see those boxes of things to be donated or given away- that is a feeling quite unlike any other.

Books

The only value in the past is in the lessons it can teach us. Everything else can be discarded.

And yes, this even applies to books.Β  I know there’s a huge ruckus online about what Kondo apparently said about throwing books away, but as with everything social media, I tend to take outrage with a huge handful of salt.

While I read all the views and counter-views about the topic of books, the one thingΒ  I wanted to do was read the book for myself and find out what she says.

Remember how I have moved multiple times? Well, the first casualty, almost always, in every move, was books. We’re a family of readers and I married a man who loves books as much as I do. But the one thing I learnt very early on was this: Books are heavy. They occupy space. And when you’re moving from one rental home to another every 2 years, it’s not practical for you to lug 6 cartons of books each time.

Instead, we did the next best thing: Donated the books or gave them away to friends. One move was particularly memorable because the person who came to take the books was an avid blogger, much before I got into blogging seriously and before the surge of social media. We’ve been friends ever since. So you see? Books build relationships, even if you don’t carry them all from place to place.

β€œFor books, timing is everything. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small.”

Kondo doesn’t ask you to bring your library down to 30 books; she says that’s what SHE did for herself. She doesn’t ask you to rip out pages from books either; she mentions that it is one method she tried to savour favourite passages from books she read.

What every outrage-inducing tweet or post on the subject missed was this: The choice lies with you.

Personally, even today, I have way too many books. Some of those are very old and carry huge sentimental value. Others, I picked up on a whim. Still others are those that I grabbed because they were on sale. Then let’s not forget the sheer generosity of friends who send me books πŸ™‚ And the truth? I have enough books to read all year long and then some, if I were to read a book a day. (Not kidding)

Kondo isn’t standing by your side, with a gun to your head, asking you to discard your books. It’s a choice she offers and more importantly, it’s the basis of the entire premise of the book: ‘Does it spark joy?’

Spark Joy

This, then, is the part of the book that most people find difficult to come to terms with. It’s where Kondo asks you to treat every item with deference and respect.

β€œThe best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: β€œDoes this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

I know what you’re thinking. Who has the time for this?

But see, that’s the most important part. The tidying that Kondo speaks of does not happen overnight. It takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months, at least. It’s a visceral act of de-cluttering that, when done, will ensure you never add to the clutter again.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

For me, the reason the book touched a special chord was multi-fold.

I was ready and receptive to the idea of tidying up. I’ve always enjoyed cleaning, but never actually seen it as a Zen exercise or a way to unshackle my mind from the clutter.

The way Kondo treats every item she owns, with precision and gratitude, awakened something deep within me. There is a passage where she speaks of a home and likens it to a Shinto shrine. That gave me goosebumps.

Non-fiction of this variety is a genre I took to, a couple of years ago and I believe that the timing was right for this to happen. In my own eyes, I can see the growth it has enabled in my life and in my relationships.

Towards the end of the book, Kondo says something that stays with me. She says that the art of tidying up will do more than make your homes cleaner. The very act will enable you to visualise what you want in your life and how you will go about achieving it, free of mental clutter.

It is my fervent belief that the time has come to clear the clutter.


*Pick up the book if you are into non-fiction, self-help and anything to do with Zen habits or minimalism. You will then love this book as much as I did.

 

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20 thoughts on “Marie Kondo, Tidying Up and Sparking Joy

  1. I watched the first episode of Marie Kondo in Netflix. Her method made sense. But we don’t have that many clutter as they show in the show as we move around a lot. I liked her tips on organizing. It is inspiring to see people cleaning and clearing clutter, isn’t it? I love cleaning up. So the show was right up my alley. πŸ™‚ I have placed a hold for the book at the local library. Looks like the book is in great demand; I’ll have to wait for a couple of months. πŸ™‚
    Vinitha recently penned this post My #10YearChallengeMy Profile

  2. Since moving a couple of years ago, I have begun giving away books but I’ll still only give away those that I didn’t connect with at a deep level. Which basically means, I’m still going to have lots of books. And I’m ok with that. I haven’t read Marie Kondo but she does have a huge following. I’m all for decluttering {especially in the last few months as I’ve been gradually going through my stuff}. Mine is more at a practical level – am I ever going to use it? Am I going to need it? If I haven’t used it the last 10 years, what’s the chances of using it again? And then getting rid of it. I don’t think I’ll be reading this any time soon {or watching her Netflix show} but maybe some day. And I agree with you on the outrage – even though I’ve never watched or read her stuff, I doubt she’s forcing people to do any of the things! If you want to hoard, hoard!
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently penned this post Things to doMy Profile

  3. What perfect timing. I have been meaning to read about minimalism and decluttering and you wrote about this book! We will be shifting to a new place in some months and having a minimal house is my wish. I am picking this book and hoping to take tips and suggestions from her.
    For a long time, parting with my books was a touchy subject. But then they were beginning to sabotage all the available space. So last year with a strong will and heart, I donated some 100+ books to a library. Also now that I am Kindle convert, I prefer ebooks. But books will always be an integral part of my life and I will never let go of them especially my favorite hand-picked ones!

    1. All the best for the move, Shilpa I know how tough that can be!

      Don’t give away your favourite books. Even Kondo doesn’t recommend that πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy this book when you get to read it.

  4. I better keep my husband away from this show. He loves cleaning. I am a hoader and throwing away things come very hard to me. But with limited spaces, changing fashion and fast lifestyles, this cleansing of the household is kinda necessary. I love the idea of respecting what we own. And comparing the home to a shrine. But probably I wouldn’t warm up to the idea of giving away books. Not yet. 😊 I will try watching her show and see how that connects with me.
    Rajlakshmi recently penned this post Fashion trends – Reason Why I have Nothing to WearMy Profile

  5. I read this book just part way. I’m one of those people who was pretty put off by the book. Not the whole furore about how many books to keep, but the very premise of asking if a thing sparks joy. There are a lot of very practical things that we need in the house that don’t spark joy. Also, it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter: the β€œwhy” of why we have so much clutter in the first place! Although what she said about your house resembling a Shinto shrine – that gave me goose bumps too!
    Modern Gypsy recently penned this post My depth year: planning my frameworkMy Profile

    1. It’s interesting that you say that πŸ™‚ Actually when she speaks of Sparking Joy, it’s for all things both essential and sentimental. And she does talk about the idea of clutter though not in as much detail. I believe that’s the subject of her next book, ‘Spark Joy’.

      But that’s okay if you couldn’t relate to the book. I’ve found that each of us respond differently to books and that’s perfectly okay. πŸ™‚

      Thank you so much for your insight.

  6. For someone with a Monica like obsession with cleaning and de-cluttering, I’m surprised to have never heard of this book or the show and I’m an avid Netflix-er πŸ˜›

    I’m someone who cleans and re-does things a lot, so I’m sure this book is going tp help me. Non-fiction is something I find really hard to read, but with you recommending this and Shantala recommending two more, I have to give in now, shouldn’t I? πŸ™‚

    Love you!
    Soumya recently penned this post Dear Woman, Don’t ApologizeMy Profile

    1. Yes please do check it out. And if you prefer Netflix to the book then I say start with that instead. She has a very soothing presence which is what I cherished about her YouTube videos.

  7. I’ve just finished watching the Netflix series and found it incredibly inspiring. About to start on the book ready to begin my tidying in February – I’m going to blog about my progress eek! πŸ™‚

  8. I guess I am the only one who hasn’t really heard about the book. I did see a few snarky tweets but wasn’t much concerned. πŸ™‚ But yes, I did start watching the first episode, and it really spoke to me. There are a few areas in my home where I really struggle with clutter. Though I give away clothes regularly and don’t have cupboards full of them, I like her method of folding clothes. Would you believe it that Sid taught me this method a few years back through a book he had read! I loved it. It helped save so much space when packing clothes. But I haven’t done it in the wardrobe yet. And I am going to implement it soon. I would love to read this book and am putting it on my TBR right away. She has a very soothing presence too (from the TV show) and that helps as well. πŸ™‚

    About books I agree with you. I have given away so many books and just recently I sat down and went through two bookcases taking out books that the kids have outgrown or ones that I will never read again. I am now looking for people to give them to. I think it is a joyful exercise to share the love of books with others and practical too. While growing up, we moved every couple of years and hence I can completely understand what you say. We had to give away so much stuff not only books.

    But now that I have been living in this home for 14 years, there is so much stuff that we have accumulated. I have given away loads over the years but I know that I need to do more. And I completely agree that a messy room sucks out positive energy and leaves one anxious too.

    Though I don’t enjoy cleaning per see, I do realize its importance and am committed to clean as needed.

    Thank you for a lovely review, Shailaja. Let’s see maybe I will borrow the book from you. Haven’t really read much till now in January.

  9. I haven’t read this book yet. But to be honest, I am always decluttering. Always. So much so that it’s now a family joke. But I don’t mind. They can say what they want, I find decluttering almost as therapeutic as cleaning.

    Though admittedly I am terrible with decluttering books. I know that. I accept that. And then I ignore that. We are all allowed exceptions, right? πŸ˜€ But then I guess it’s not so terrible, because those books do spark joy. πŸ™‚
    Shantala recently penned this post 2 Book Recommendations to Start Your Year RightMy Profile

    1. It’s interesting when you say you are always decluttering πŸ™‚ According to Kondo’s method, once you declutter, you will never have to do it again.

      As for the books bit, the idea of sparking joy goes beyond just the number of books. Like I said, if and when you get around to reading the book, you will know what I mean. I have a feeling you’d enjoy it. πŸ™‚

  10. Okay this has come at a very perfect time. Believe it or not I missed the entire debate on Kondo’s book decluttering. However, as a rather new Netflix binger, I just discovered her and was planning on watching her over the week.
    It has been a very recent realisation for me that I need to trim my book collection. At least the ones I didn’t quite like can be given away. I have hung onto duplicate copies of some and even Hindi translations of Harry Potter gifted by the publisher!! I feel silly even writing this here. I’ll get to it soonest.

    1. That’s good to hear- about the review coming on time, I mean, not the overwhelm of books πŸ˜‰

      Do you know that’s one reason I haven’t picked up Divakaruni’s latest? I really want to read all the unread books on my list first. πŸ™‚

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