Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, has, indeed, been life-changing for many people. In fact, this year when Ms. Kondo’s Netflix show (Tidying Up with Marie Kondo) came out, a craze swept the nation, to the point that donation centers (and probably trash cans) were overflowing with items. In the book and the show, Marie Kondo encourages people to literally hold every single item they own in their hands and determine if it “sparks joy.” Some people struggle with this question because they don’t exactly know what that spark of joy should feel like. A few questions you can ask to help you make a decision are: Do I look good in this/ does it make me happy to look at this? Is there a special memory attached to this item? If I were in a store right now, would I buy this again?

While some people get a little confused when faced with, say, a frying pan, Ms. Kondo has an answer for them: if an object is useful to you, then you should hold on to it and appreciate what it does for you. (However, if you wish, you can replace that lack-luster frying pan with one that truly “sparks joy.”)

I actually first read the book when it came out in 2014, but I recently reread it after learning more about the minimalist movement. It again inspired me to take stock of my possessions and throw out, gift, or donate those things which do not “spark joy.” I think this reaction is just as much a product of my enjoyment of organizing as it is my desire to practice minimalism; there is something so pleasing about making everything tidy and organized, and the less stuff you have the easier it becomes.

One criticism I have heard of the book is that it focuses more on the possessions themselves than on what it will mean for your life after you are free of the excess. While this may be true, I personally think of the book as a celebration of the joys of “tidying”; I (and many others) experience an inordinate amount of pleasure from organizing, one part of which is ridding your home of excess items. There is much joy to be had, for people who are into this kind of thing, and this book is a fun way to engage in that, even if it doesn’t suggest that you spend your extra time and money on deep introspection or charity.

Have you read the book, or other books on minimalism? What did you think, and what would you recommend?

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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  1. I loved this book and didn’t like the show because it had too much drama and didn’t have all the details that were in the book. Other good books: Simple Living by Lippincott and Simplify by Becker!

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    1. I had fun watching the show but I know what you mean. Also, it was hard watching the people keep so much stuff still! Although of course that’s their personal choice. Thanks for the recommendations! I will definitely check those out.

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