kat's Reviews > The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2015

I put this on my to-read list after reading this great article about the backlash. This summary in New York Magazine nails it:

But Kondo doesn’t nag. Instead, she urges a kind of animistic tenderness toward everyday belongings. Socks “take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet,” she writes. “The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest.” Purses merit similar reverence: “Being packed all the time, even when not in use, must feel something like going to bed on an empty stomach.” Kondo’s thesis—that the world is filled with worthy recipients of mercy, including lightweight-microfiber ones—is as lovely as it is alien. It’s empathy as an extreme sport.

Just from that, you probably know you'll either love or hate this book. For my part, I found it charming: eccentric, obsessive and more than a little bit dorky. Am I going to start folding my underwear into tiny little rectangles? Probably not. But as a long-time proponent of minimalism and decluttering, I can't help but love this weird little book.

Moreoever, I understand why it's become a cult phenomenon. Despite the fact that she describes her tidying as a "system", this is not really another 12-step decluttering book. It's more of a manifesto: a call to radically reevaluate your relationship with your possessions, and, by extension, the world.

And, as NY Mag said, it's not even a little bit naggy. It's Bob Ross levels of tender, encouraging and kind.

Some of her suggestions are definitely, well, odd. Like thanking each item you use during the day for its hard work, or greeting your house when you come home. But at its core, isn't that about cultivating mindfulness and gratitude -- about combating the capitalistic culture of scarcity with daily reminders that you are surrounded by abundance?

One of my favorite concepts was the idea that things come into your life for some purpose, but that it isn't always what you think it is. For example, an item of clothing that you bought but never wore may have served its purpose of giving you a thrill when you bought it, or of teaching you something about your own taste. The purpose of gifts is to be received, so there's no regret in letting go of a gift you no longer enjoy.

Another thing I found really interesting was the concept that the process of decluttering is an opportunity to hone in on your own intuition about what brings you joy.

The book acknowledges something that is often overlooked in decluttering advice - that the things we own are important and matter, that they can be hard to let go of, that there are psychological aspects at play. Instead of trying to convince yourself that stuff doesn't matter, Kondo encourages you to notice that it does, to treat it with respect and to appreciate the role it plays in your life and your sense of self.

The things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves. It is dangerous to ignore them or to discard them indiscriminately as if denying the choices we made. This is why I am against both letting things pile up and dumping things indiscriminately. It is only when we face the things we own one by one and experience the emotions they evoke that we can truly appreciate our relationship with them.

Listen to your own intuition. Surround yourself with the things that matter, that give you joy. Let go of the things that do not. Let go of the things that no longer serve you, and make space in your life for the things that matter.

What's not to like?
2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

November 14, 2015 – Started Reading
November 14, 2015 – Shelved
November 15, 2015 – Shelved as: read-in-2015
November 15, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Xavier Shay Great review!

"It's Bob Ross levels of tender, encouraging and kind." - nailed it.

back to top