Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

tidyMarie Kondo has revolutionized house cleaning. The subtitle of her book ‘The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing‘ explains a philosophy that I hadn’t really thought of: Decluttering is a form of art. Kondo is a professional cleaning consultant. She goes into clients’ homes and helps them do a complete overhaul: discarding things that don’t spark joy or that have never been of use, simplifying and organizing their homes at once so that they will never have to do it again.

There are pro’s and con’s with the book. I did agree with the statement: ‘It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially “detox” our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well’. Kondo goes on to explain that once the process of tidying is under way, many of her clients remarked that they had lost weight or that they had a more clear, joyful outlook on life, their minds felt sharper and they were more content. I can understand how that works and have seen it firsthand, not just in my own home but with friends and family. I have always felt that the more clutter I have in my home, the more cluttered I feel in my brain. Kondo gives a startling statistic: the sum total of all the garbage that her clients had discarded exceeded twenty-eight thousand bags. “Yet despite the drastic reduction in their belongings, no one had ever complained that they had a problem later because she told them to get rid of something. The reason is very clear: discarding those things that don’t spark joy has no adverse effects whatsoever.” (p. 185) Another statement she makes that is so true, especially with people who have a natural tendency to hoard: “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” (p. 181) That is food for thought.

More food for thought: “The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can’t bring yourself to discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. In fact, it is quite the opposite” (p. 126).

Now, obviously, with a large household such as mine (8 living at home), I cannot throw away everything that doesn’t spark joy. There are some things that I must keep simply because it is how my family operates; the feelings associated with them are neither positive nor negative. They are neutral.  One of the con’s of the book: Kondo’s excessive use of referring to inanimate objects as things that desire to be loved. She thanks her jacket after taking it off upon returning from work. She says hello to her shoes and thanks them for their service. There are a myriad of examples in which Kondo shows gratitude to the household items that serve us. I see from other reviewers of the book that this bothered them. I was able to overlook it and instead focus on the positives of the book because it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. That is her personal conviction; I was thankful that the book made enough sense and taught me more about household organization so that I wasn’t going to get hung up over the quirkiness of speaking to my clothes or books.

Throughout reading this book, I had many areas of my home that I kept thinking about that needed a thorough decluttering. Afterwards, I went through all of my dresser drawers and children’s dresser drawers and got rid of a lot of clothes, only keeping the one’s we really like to wear and donating the rest.  For being a quick, fun read at 206 pages, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is inspiring, challenging and thought-provoking and I can easily recommend it to other readers.

I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

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About Brenda Weatherly

Christian wife and mother to 7 children. Board of Directors at Center of Light, Team Leader of Woodlawn Refugee Ministry.
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