Monday, October 5, 2015

Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, translated by Cathy Hirano

I read this book, knowing I was not in a mind-space nor had the time to do a major "tidying" (what Americans would generally call organizing or even a purge.) But I was hoping the book would be inspiring and bring me a feeling of calm and a Zen-like mental state. It did not.

It's short book and starts off by the author, Ms. Kondo, giving a long history of her own attraction to tidying, her history of different methods tried, and how she came up with her own personal method, which she calls Kon-Mari. And it kind of makes sense: it involves sorting items not by room but by type, so that instead of sorting books in your living room, later in your bedroom, and later in your office, instead you will just sort all of your books. If you work this way, you are more likely to see the volume of books that you have, find any duplicates, and be able to better categorize books and see which ones truly bring you joy. That's the key: only keep what brings you joy.

But that's where things stopped making sense for me. If Ms. Kondo truly has never had a client have any regression, then that's great. But I cannot subscribe to her statements that this is the only organizational method that works. Also that you must--must--reduce your belongings to a minuscule amount or else you'll never be happy. I think that it's necessary for me to keep neutral cardigans that don't bring me joy but go with everything. I have a green dress that I've never been thrilled with but every time I wear it I get tons of compliments. So the dress doesn't bring me joy, but the reaction to it does. And I'm sorry, I just can't take seriously a professional organizer who thinks an extreme number of unread books in a house is 40. I have 450. And she's so dismissive when she makes statements like, If you haven't read it yet, you never will. Not true. This year I have read a book I got in 1995, another one I bought in 2009, and 15 more books that sat on my bookshelves for more than a year. (Normally this number would be much higher but this year I've really focused on reading new books from the library.)

I appreciate where she's coming from, and I suppose if you truly own more than you can handle, more than fits comfortably in your home, this might make sense. But as someone who feels like 600+ books IS appropriate and who has made her home a place where they do fit, I found her judgmental and rigid. (And I say that as someone whose clothes all fit in her closet and where they are organized by type of clothing and by color, so I'm not defending living in a pig sty or in a mess.) The book did not make me happy. It made me anxious. I did not enjoy it. Yes, it could certainly help some people, but not me.

I checked this book out of the library.

1 comment:

Jeane said...

I so agree with you on the books aspect. I have over 900 on my own shelves, no plans to downsize that at all. As soon as I thin some out, more will come in. And yes, there have been books I read that sat here almost a decade before I opened them, and I'm glad I did! Other things in life I could pare down, though. But it has as much to do with the usefulness of an object, as how much it "makes me happy."