Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo

life-changing-magicTitle: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Author: Marie Kondo
ISBN: 9781607747307
Pages: 224
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Source: Personal Copy


A tidy house is a happy house. True? Marie Kondo believes so. Kondo is an expert on tidying, a woman with a months-long waiting list. People hire her in order to bring order to their lives, and in this book, she shares her wisdom to advise people on how to tidy and declutter, and how that can have repercussions throughout your life.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a somewhat controversial book. Why? Because Kondo’s approach to tidying is different than anything else you’ve probably ever read. She posits that the reason we all have so much stuff, the reasons our closets are crammed full and our drawers are overflowing, is that we’ve never actually been taught to tidy properly. Kondo has her own system of tidying based on one crucial value: joy. How do you feel when you hold a thing? If the feeling you have isn’t unvarnished joy, then it’s got to go.

Kondo isn’t talking about cleaning supplies (though she doesn’t think we need Costco-sized packs of toilet paper lying around). She’s talking about our clothes, shoes, books, purses, scarves, jewelry—those things that we keep around because they looked good in the store, even if we don’t like them as much at home, or that thing that we’re leaving in our closet for that one time we might need it. There were definitely times I was shaking my head at Kondo’s philosophy. She maintains you have to commit wholeheartedly to what she says to find true joy. I’m not sure I can go that far (my precious books!), but as a person who has been trying to get rid of things and be in a constant state of culling the past few years, I certainly wanted to take what she had to say to heart.

Even if you don’t agree with everything Kondo says, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a book that will make you think about your relationship to the things around you. Because, like it or not, you do have a relationship with the objects you own. It makes sense that the relationship should be a positive one; you should feel joy at seeing the things you own. One of the major takeaways I had from this book was that if a piece of clothing doesn’t bring you joy, you should get rid of it. No matter how much you spent, no matter if it’s new or old. If you spent a lot of money bringing an expensive dress home, and it turns out you’re never going to wear it because it doesn’t fit right (and you can’t return it), it’s time to get rid of it. The dress did its job by making you happy when you bought it; there’s no reason to keep it around now. While I don’t want this method of thinking to encourage my own consumerism, I do like it for letting go of things I feel like I “should” keep, for whatever reason.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a quick read, and if you’re a person who enjoys thinking about the best life you can lead (something I have found more and more intriguing as I get older), it’s worth it. You might not like or agree with everything Kondo has to say, but it’s worth taking the time to listen and think about whether you can apply principles from what she says to your own life. Because, like it or not, I know I have too much stuff and the clutter is driving me slightly mad!

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