There are a couple of reasons I sought out this book and read it earlier than I thought I would. Apparently it’s been climbing the charts since it was translated from Japanese into English this past fall, but for me it first came to light when my friend, Carlie, started posting about it on Instagram. For those of you that have been following for a LONG time she got me to read The Hunger Games way back in 2010. I still haven’t read the other book she recommended, The Beans of Egypt, Maine, but I should probably get on that as she’s two-for-two.
After I asked about the book section of this tidying book she sent me the entire section via PM and I realized I wanted to read this book. I’m moving in August so it was the perfect time to take a look at all of my stuff so I grabbed a copy and devoured it.
The greatest fear for me going in was that I wouldn’t want to do anything in the KonMarie method, but in reality I was already doing my own modified version. I fully plan to implement some of her techniques into my own already evolved efficiency/tidying routine and hopefully I will see some great results. (No clue if I will follow-up, so don’t hold your breath.) If there was one thing I was worried about, but most interested in when it came to the KonMarie method it was my books.
I was worried about culling my books. We all know I have a jam-packed bookshelf full of books, not to mention my kindle, but do I really need them? I’ve already been considering a cull for my impending move later this month, but I wasn’t sure how to do it and KonMarie didn’t fail to provide an answer,
“Keep only those books that will make you happy just to see them on your shelves, the ones that you really love. That includes this book, too. If you don’t feel any joy when you hold it in your hand, I would rather you discard it.” (90)
I can name 10-15 books without even looking that I can pass on to another home because I bought them to read because I wanted to and now have no interest to. Just because I keep a book blog doesn’t mean I have to keep every book I purchase/receive.
KonMarie makes an incredibly important note towards the end of the book that also provided a lot of relief for me, especially around my book anxiety. In essence she says, whatever your passion is it will be represented with more things. A little light went off and I did a little dance in my head because I realized I would only be eliminating the books that didn’t spark joy for me. After breathing a sigh of relief over this, I was able to move on to what was and will be the biggest hurdle in personally deciding on the KonMarie method.
Whereas KonMarie has you interact with everything on a personal level, I have just sort of molted my belongings every few years with almost a complete purge. At first I was very skeptical of her thanking each item for its use and putting them back in their specifically assigned space, more so the latter, but the more I thought about it the more it just makes sense. Sure you own these items because you’ve paid for them, but how many of them could we get by without?
Personally, I would be lost without my bookbag/backpack and the idea of giving it the opportunity to rest each day and thanking it for toting around all my crap makes me smile. I think this really hit home when KonMarie talked about an old cellphone she used to have. I’m not sure how much of this was manufactured within the writing process, but in essence she got a new phone messaged a thank you to the old one and then this happened,
“A few minutes later, I opened my old phone and was surprised to find that the screen was blank. No matter which button I pressed, the screen did not respond. My cell phone, which had never broken since the day I first got it, had gone dead after receiving my message. It never worked again, as if the phone, realizing that its job was done, had resigned from its post of its own accord.” (169)
I would be lying if I said I didn’t tear up a bit. I mean hey, WALL-E made me cry, so how much of a stretch was this? So what does it really hurt to thank your house when you come home from a long day, or thank each item for what they brought to your life and taught you while they were with you for a brief time? No one and nothing, that’s who.
I think the biggest problem of the KonMarie method is that unless you live alone you’re going to face an uphill battle with getting others on board. You can reduce your own possessions down to only what brings you joy, but outside of that you must have the patience and the goodness to let everything else go. I know I’ll be doing some major decluttering in my life and if I can convince my boyfriend to declutter just one thing (the storage unit) I’ll be happy. Who knows if it will work, but if I can live with what I enjoy then I count this book as a resounding success.
Just so you know it’s not all sunshine and roses, there has been a lot of push back about the KonMarie method including this article, that mostly just made me want to smack the author for sentimentality and knee-jerk reaction.
Recommendation: Take it or leave it. I fully plan to give a copy of this book as presents this coming holiday season to quite a few people. I’m not sure if any will ever read it and appreciate it, but I know if I ever live alone I will only have what inspires joy in my house.
Opening Line: “In this book, I have summed up how to put your space in order in a way that will change your life forever.”
Closing Line: “Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.” (Not whited out as this is a work of non-fiction.)
Additional Quotes from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
“My clients always sound so happy, and the results show that tidying has changed their way of thinking and their approach to life. In fact, it has changed their future. Why? This question is addressed in more detail throughout the book, but basically, when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do.” (3)
“Tidying brings visible results. Tidying never lies. The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits.” (16)
“Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.” (21)
“Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first. This principle does not change. The rest depends on the level of tidiness you personally want to achieve.” (28)
“Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding.” (28)
“…we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.” (41)
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” (42)
“People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with.” (45)
“To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy. As if drawn into your wake, they will begin weeding out unnecessary belongings and tidying without your having to utter a single complaint. It may sound incredible, but when someone starts tidying it sets off a chain reaction.” (52)
“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure.” (61)
“Some people save the boxes for electrical appliances because they think they can get more money for the appliances if they ever sell them. This, however, is a waste. If you consider the rent or mortgage you pay, turning your space into a storage shed for empty boxes costs you more than what you could earn selling an appliance in a box. You don’t need to keep them for moving either. You can worry about finding suitable boxes when the time comes. It’s a shame to let a boring box take up room in your house just because you might need it someday.” (109)
“As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you.” (124)
“One theme underlying my method of tidying is transforming the home into a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy.” (161)
“Storage, after all, is the sacred act of choosing a home for my belongings.” (171)
“At their core, the things we really like do not change over time. Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are.” (175)
“The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past.” (183)