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) 😉
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I’ve always liked to clean. More than I like to cook😉 . 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
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.
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.
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
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.
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. 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 thing 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.
“For 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 🙂 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?’
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.
“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does 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.