“Does it spark joy?” asks Marie Kondō

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō on Kindle Voyage | madeofmint.net

“Does it spark joy?” is the main driver behind the KonMari method. It’s a question that Marie Kondō poses throughout her books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. Over the past years, I’ve seen these books float around in book stores and on my library’s Overdrive homepage. It’s not until this year, however, that I picked them up to read. In my exploration of minimalism, the KonMari method came up over and over again, prompting me to finally read these books.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō • published by Vermilion, Ebury Publishing on April 3, 2014 • classified as self-help, popular psychology, non-fiction • obtained through Overdrive • read as ebook • 3.5 stars • shelve on Goodreads

Synopsis

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.


The Roots of the KonMari Method

No doubt, Marie Kondō has become an expert when it comes to tidying. You can tell she’s very passionate about the subject and her level of experimenting and researching is surely unsurpassed. She has her methods worked out in formulaic clarity that makes it really easy to follow along for anyone who’s interested. A lot of her advice is similar to that of my mother’s while growing up: get rid of things that have no more place in my life, it’s better to get one dress I love than five that cost the same but I like only half a much, have a place for everything and return them there after use. On that front, I’m sure many parents have taught their own children this.

What makes the KonMari method (yep, based on her nickname) stand out is the emphasis on “joy”. Does an item spark joy? Keep it. Does it not? Discard it. (Gift only if said item is something someone would be willing to buy for themselves.) The point is not to clutter one’s life with items that don’t bring joy. Sounds like a great principle to live by but not entirely sensible either. That’s how she once came to discard a hammer, following which she use a pan as a substitute. She also snapped her favourite ruler in half because she no longer owned a screwdriver.

Defining Joy

While she then proceeded to explain that joy isn’t just an electric tingling feeling but could also manifest in the form of appreciation for an item making one’s life easier, I thought she somewhat undermined the importance of utility. Of course, most of us don’t need five hammers, but it’s handy to keep one, even if it doesn’t bring joy until the moment one needs it.

Application

That being said, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was helpful to me. I had difficulty in the past casting off items that I kept purely out of feelings of obligation or even guilt. I finally had the heart to discard knitting needles that my grandmother gifted me when I was seven. One, they were bent and of no more use; two, I’m not an avid knitter. I let go of an old video camera that once belonged to my grandfather. It also helped to envision what I hoped to achieve through tidying because that gave me something concrete to work towards to. When there’s no purpose, that’s when we’re most likely to fail at anything, really.

Talking to Objects

What I couldn’t get behind was that Marie Kondō advocates talking to each and every object. I understand talking to plants, dolls and stuffed toys people have had since they were kids and played make-believe with, but I’m not sold on talking to my clothes hangers. Neither do I feel the compulsion to thank depleted batteries for their service before binning them. Maybe I’m just not attuned to the “aura” (as she puts it) of my possessions but those are steps I skipped.

An Essay Would’ve Sufficed

Ironically, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was much longer than it needed to be. Despite all that talk about paring down unnecessary items, this book contained a lot of superfluous anecdotes. Some of them supported the point but others merely served to demonstrate just how perfect the KonMari method is once you adopt it. An essay outlining the method would’ve worked out just as well.

Spark Joy

Spark Joy by Marie Kondō • published by Vermilion, Ebury Publishing on January 5, 2016 • classified as self-help, popular psychology, non-fiction • obtained through Overdrive • read as ebook • 2 stars • shelve on Goodreads

Synopsis

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Marie Kondo’s unique KonMari Method of tidying up is nothing short of life-changing—and her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has become a worldwide sensation. In Spark Joy, Kondo presents an in-depth, illustrated manual on how to declutter and organize specific items throughout the house, from kitchen and bathroom items to work-related papers and hobby collections. User-friendly line drawings illustrate Kondo’s patented folding method as it applies to shirts, pants, socks, and jackets, as well as images of properly organized drawers, closets, and cabinets. This book is perfect for anyone who wants a home—and life—that sparks joy.


Spark Joy repeats a lot of material from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, making it a fairly redundant sequel. I should’ve expected that since The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was longer than it needed to be. This means there wasn’t any new information to be had in Spark Joy. The reason I still read it was the illustrations. They were meant to clarify points made in the text but really, they were little doodles on the side. There were no step-by-step instructions through illustrations, as I had expected.

On its own, Spark Joy can be a little confusing as well. It expects prior knowledge gained through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If faced with either book, give Spark Joy a pass and just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.


Have you read either of these books? What’re your thoughts on the KonMari method?

xx Josette

Book Reviews: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo | madeofmint.net

Keywords: home organization, minimalism, decluttering

  • I have to admit that I’ve found very useful watching a couple of videos where Marie Kondo explained how to fold clothes, because that method realle helped me organising my wardrobe. But I’m not sure if I want to read the book, I’ve read some recaps and extracts here and there and I think that the core concepts (going by categories, putting everything on the floor, asking myself if something really sparks joy) were already part of my routine, I really don’t care about the woo woo stuff of thanking inanimate objects for their work.