After seeing what seemed like 47 posts on Instagram and Facebook, a couple dozen articles, and just as many blog posts about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I decided to grab a copy and read it for myself. I went into reading it with no preconceived notions whatsoever, except that I wondered what I stood to learn as I am already an extremely organized and tidy person (I mean, really, this is what my refrigerator looks like–even now, two years later!). Serve me up a slice of humble pie, because I really did learn a lot from this little book, and I’ll say it upfront: I do recommend it.
There are, however, some parts of this book that I took with a grain of salt, either because they just don’t make sense to me, or because they don’t align with my values. (Like, I will never treat my socks as though they have feelings…because, uh, they don’t.)
So, the following is an honest review of the book. As I said, I do recommend the book, but if you choose to read it, please read it with a filter. Many parts are wonderful, but there are some that should be mentally discarded, in my opinion at least. Before I begin, I want to reiterate that the following review is my opinion only, and that others may see things differently. Anyway, here we go!
The best part about this book is that it truly did what the author set out to do: it helped me discover the magic of tidying up, de-cluttering, and living with less stuff. As I mentioned before, I am already a tidy person, but I was shocked at how many useful methods and ways of thinking that I learned through this short book.
What sets Marie Kondo’s method (which she calls the KonMari method) apart is that she doesn’t believe in de-cluttering and tidying little by little, because, in her words, you’ll end up tidying for the rest of your life. (I actually agree with her big-time on this, it’s exhausting just thinking about de-cluttering all the time for the rest of my life!)
Instead, she suggests that you go category by category for each type of item in your home (like clothes, photographs, or books), gather every item in that category in one place, physically pick up each item, decide whether or not to keep it (in her words, “does it spark joy?“), and then discard/donate/sell whatever doesn’t spark joy for you. Basically, she walks you through sorting every single item you own.
Clearly, I’m oversimplifying this method–read the book for a much more thorough explanation. She explains the KonMari method beautifully and truly empowers the reader to find freedom from stuff by following her simple method. She even outlines the exact order in which you should go through your items by category, which is very helpful when you don’t know where to start.
One thing I love about this book is how detailed Marie Kondo is in explaining her method of tidying up. She is not abstract in the least (which is great, because I do not like abstraction); instead, she is extremely concrete and thorough. You will not finish her book and think “Well, where do I start?” or “Wait, how do I de-clutter?” You, like me, will be completely empowered and the choice will become yours as to whether or not you go through the motions and take the time to fully tidy your home and live without clutter contaminating your environment and mind. (She even explains exactly how to fold your clothes to maximize drawer space!) Even the most messy, disorganized person will understand how to get her space in order! Whether she does it or not is a different story. 😉
The major theme of this book is creating a home environment that sparks joy. I love that verbiage. I feel like that should always be the end goal…not to live minimally (though you likely will want to)…not to live in a clean home (though you will end up with one)…but to live in a place that sparks joy in your soul! Yes. The above is the good of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up! Now, on to the bad.
There aren’t many ideas that Marie Kondo suggests that I would label as “bad;” most of the ideas I don’t agree with I would more readily label as “bizarre.” That said, there are a couple of things that I think are just bad ideas.
Perhaps the author’s greatest strength, her detailed and concrete writing, is also what sometimes lost me in her book. For example, she suggests that women completely empty their purses and bags every time they enter their home, putting each item in a particular location (which I classify as a waste of time/bad idea), so that purses and bags can “rest” after a “long day’s work” (which I classify as bizarre…again with the inanimate objects having feelings).
I should note that my purse is always very organized, and there are never floating receipts, wadded-up tissues, or crushed up granola bars, so to clean out my purse daily would seriously be a legitimate waste of time. Perhaps someone who struggles to maintain her purse would benefit from this exercise, even if for only a week, as a way to learn to discard items throughout the day so that her purse is always in a state of cleanliness.
Another idea that I think is a waste of time and a bad idea is her suggestion to store all shower products in a cabinet or cupboard, take them out each time they’re needed, and then individually dry them off before placing them back in their original spots. Every time you shower. Again, perhaps someone who struggles to keep her shower neat and without too many bottles would benefit from this, but truly this would be a waste of time for me. My shower is very organized (see this post), so I would not spend time moving bottles to and fro, drying them individually each time.
The purse and shower examples are a great way to sum up what I would consider the bad of this book: the KonMari method is extreme, sometimes too extreme. As someone who usually sees things in black or white, I can appreciate an extreme approach to tidying for extremely awesome results. (Which I do think can be achieved through this book!) However, these two examples as well as a few others are just too over-the-top for me. Now, let’s move on to the bizarre.
There are many examples threaded throughout the book, which all fall into the same category of bizarre for me: treating objects like they have feelings. You will never, ever convince me that my socks are hurting and in pain when I roll them together because their elastic is stretched too tight–something Marie Kondo spends pages explaining. There is no way you’ll ever make me believe that my shirts will talk to me and tell me that they would rather be folded instead of hung. I just don’t agree that my purses will be happier stored one inside the other rather than hanging or stuffed with tissue.
I will not, as the author suggests, ask my home where it wants me to put items in it. I also will not greet my home every single time I come in the door as a way to show appreciation to it. (I have started thanking God for blessing me with shelter when I return home, though!)
Perhaps Marie Kondo’s spirituality is the root of some of her thoughts and ideas that I do not agree with (she mentions her spirituality several times). I mean no disrespect, I just do not agree with treating objects like they have feelings, talking to my house, or thanking any thing for anything.
Reading the book through a Christian worldview led me to thank my living God for all that He has given me and blessed me with, as well as ask Him to help me let go of items that do not spark joy in my life so that I can live a simpler life seeking Him. In comparison to God’s glory, no sweater, photo, kitchen appliance, book, or pair of shoes can compare. It is with that truth that I am proceeding forward in de-cluttering and tidying my house according to the KonMari method, which is, at its root, an incredibly ingenious and effective one, in my opinion.
All in all, I definitely recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It has shaken me up and motivated me to dive into my stuff and get rid of that which does not spark joy! I think the method presented, though time consuming, really can be considered a cure for clutter as opposed to a treatment, just like the author suggests.
As I’ve explained, however, I do recommend that you read through the book with a filter for ideas that don’t make sense in your life or suggestions that you don’t agree with. Even if you only like 70% of the book, I think it’s still worth reading and learning that 70%.
If you’ve read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I would love to hear what you thought of it! If you haven’t, are you interested? Follow me on Instagram for updates on my tidying up progress! 🙂