7jane's Reviews > Spark Joy: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising: An Illustrated Master Class

Spark Joy by Marie Kondō
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really liked it

For a while, I didn't really know if I wanted to read about KonMari or not, but luckily I decided to choose this, largely due to Emily's review down here at the reviews (which says this is a expansion to her previous book, with some things explained a bit clearer, and there are illustrations to the folding styles Kondo recommends).

I think there are some books that just work better when you read them instead of audiobooking them, mainly because you can reread and find places a bit better, no risk of unpleasant or fast reader, and all that underlining, stickering of important bits, etc. I did have to pause now and them to breathe (haha) and to absorb a bit, but the subject was interesting enough that I read it faster that just the routine amount I make myself read of a book daily (about 41 pages). I made a bunch of notes for later, and will rewrite them into a clearer form at some point.

I love the rubber band that comes with this hardcover. You can use it or not, but it does look nice when it's used. Just the kind of touchable bonus I like.

This is somewhat different from minimalism-tidying (which aims for smaller amount of possessions) and usual decluttering techniques (in the idea of 'spark joy'). The focus is more on what you really want to keep, with putting in place coming afterwards for everything left. The folding illustrations are mostly concentrated in the clothes section, with one or two in other places. Advicing clients on tidying their homes is the author's work in Japan, and then there's her books.

The point is to keep what 'sparks joy' when touched/seen, for you - others might give suggestions, but the final decision is yours. Knowing where to keep them also helps, but it doesn't come first. Some client/personal examples are given, but they don't disturb the main purpose of the book. It is helpful if you feel already ready to commit to this (even if it doesn' t happen immediately - like, for me I will probably be more likely to start on it after weight loss, since clothes appear first in tidying order).

First the six basic rules of tidying are given, before we move on to the main text (commitment, knowing what home look you want after, discarding in every category before proper arranging, going by categories, in right order, and the 'spark joy' testing). Don't let her insistencies put you off, some of it will end up making sense later.

In the main part: the first part talks about the concept of joy and finding motivation, the second goes deep into each category (clothes - books - papers - komono (misc. items, in smaller categories) - sentimental items). The third part shows the end result for each part of home, and what changes might appear afterwards, plus other people and this tidying process. The main positive impact for this tidying method will be for your mental well-being, which might improve also your outer life (like relationships).

Some tips are a bit outside the main KonMari method of tidying, at least I made notes of them to separate notings (for example, checking on the expiring dates on some emergency supplies, or cleaning your suitcase outside and wheels after traveling).

Of course there are things that are odd or even a bit irritating. For example, I disagree with the opinion that just not have yet read a book is a sole reason for discarding it. And no, I won't cut or tear a page off a book - I would do that for magazines only. And sometimes I prefer piling, not standing up, things. And you do have to be careful with what papers you discard - I think it's better to research first what the lenght of keeping is for some before letting go of them.

She seems a bit optimistic about avoiding relapse back to messiness, and also about how after tidying other things in life get fixed too. Her talk about things' feelings and thanking them too is quite odd, but in my opinion these moves appeal to the part of self in one's head that still can't help but think object have 'feelings'). And anyway, you can freely ignore the odd bits.

But for all the weaker bits and things I disagree with, I'm surprised how much I liked the book as a whole, and the method of tidying started to make sense, the further I got into the book. The client/personal examples made the reading lighter, and gave one some amusement too. I might not get into this right away, now, but I can see myself going through it when the time is right. A rewarding experience that made me think, amused me, and inspired me.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 20, 2019 – Shelved
January 20, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Hanneke (last edited Jan 20, 2019 03:40PM) (new)

Hanneke What a very strange book this must have been to read, Jane! I have never been in Japan, but I always have this image of total tidiness of Japanese interiors, since you see that in Japanese movies. Empty and tidy rooms with sliding doors. Anyway, it is very odd to have to throw books away because you haven't read them yet and why would you tear a page from a book? She seems not to like books very much!


message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael Perkins Hanneke: what you say about the books is very telling. I studied Japanese history and culture before we made a trip there two years ago. It was like being a Philip K. Dick novel. It's a shrinking country in which deaths far outweigh births, but the population is not being replenished because of strong restrictions on immigration. One reason they're investing in ambulatory robots is for use in assisting the elderly in nursing homes. Whereas, in the U.S. that's a common staff position for new immigrants.

We went to their war museum near the infamous war shrine the Prime Minister, under political pressure, must visit once a year. With us was a friend who lives in Tokyo and very fluent in Japanese. He was translating the postings in the exhibit. One said that the Chinese deserved what they got when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in the 30's and wiped out a large part of the population in Nanking. Many were beheaded with Samurai swords. Why? Because they had insulted Japan and got what they deserved. My friend was shocked.


message 3: by Hanneke (last edited Jan 21, 2019 01:35AM) (new)

Hanneke An alien nation, no doubt about it, Michael. We here in the Netherlands have the traumatic inheritage of the Japanese occupation of our former colony of Indonesia during WW-II. All Dutch inhabitants were put in camps, starved and beaten. Plus young women were used as prostitutes for the soldiers in a very organized way, ie they erected special houses and there were long lines of waiting soldiers every day. Trauma's for life, of course. Despite many requests for apologies, Japan till this day refuses to acknowledge the harm done, much less to apologize, especially to those unfortunate women. Nor do they ever apologize for their terror in China and the other occupied countries, such as Birma and the Philippines.
Well, at least it's interesting to hear that they love their uncluttered houses.


7jane Hanneke wrote: "What a very strange book this must have been to read, Jane! I have never been in Japan, but I always have this image of total tidiness of Japanese interiors, since you see that in Japanese movies. ..."

Many of the home style books do depict Japanese homes as already super-clean (and somewhat minimalistic), but reality can be sometimes otherwise.
I have another book in my collection, Tsuzuki's "Tokyo: A Certain Style", which shows how much stuff they can put into some tiny homes. More interesting than it sounds.

I think she might have some books, but she works a lot so I don't think the number is huge... and as she says, Japan can be humid sometimes.
She might like books, but isn't attached to them much - that said, I think she means that as long as the books give one the 'joy' feeling, or they are essential to current page of life, you can keep all who apply to these two points - and the amount can be what you want it to be. Not anti, just of strange opinion I'll just pass.


message 5: by Hanneke (new)

Hanneke Sure, Jane, I will definitely pass that too!


message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael Perkins "Hanneke wrote: "An alien nation, no doubt about it, Michael. We here in the Netherlands have the traumatic inheritage of the Japanese occupation of our former colony of Indonesia during WW-II. All Dutch inhabitant..."

yes, the so-called "comfort women." It's horrifying to think about.

The other big piece of propaganda was the Hiroshima Museum. I don't agree with dropping the bombs, but this story line is used to cast Japan as some kind of innocent victim. As you indicate, they are still not owning up. There was an older woman in our group who had no interest in the facade of politeness. When the guide was done spinning his version of history, she raised her hand and asked: "what about all the atrocities Japan committed?" The guide was stunned, but she said what most of us were thinking.


message 7: by Hanneke (last edited Jan 21, 2019 09:55AM) (new)

Hanneke How not to learn anything from the past certainly goes without a doubt for Japan, Michael. I doubt if its true history will ever be clear to the Japanese youth or people as a whole. What a totally depressing thought.


message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael Perkins Right now, Japan is an object lesson on how heavy restrictions on immigration can put a country on the path to obliteration.

After WW II, many Japanese emigrated to Peru. But after the economies flipped, many of the emigres came back to Japan. But in recent years. the gov't paid them to leave because they considered them racially tainted.


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