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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Hardcover – October 14, 2014
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"Ms. Kondo delivers her tidy manifesto like a kind of Zen nanny, both hortatory and animistic." -- The New York Times
". . . a literal how-to-heave-ho, and I recommend it for anyone who struggles with the material excess of living in a privileged society. (Thanks to Ms. Kondo, I kiss my old socks goodbye.) ... To show you how serious my respect for Ms. Kondo is: if I ever get a tattoo, it will say, Spark Joy!" -- Jamie Lee Curtis, TIME
"This book is a cult. A totally reasonable, scary cult that works, doesn’t kill people (a bonus), but does drastically change your life. In this case — for the better." -- Buzzfeed
"The most organized woman in the world." -- PureWow
". . . the Japanese expert’s ode to decluttering is simple and easy to follow." -- Vogue.com
". . . her voice . . . is by turns stern and enchanted, like a fairy godmother for socks." -- The Wall Street Journal
"Reading it, you glimpse a glittering mental freedom from the unread/uncrafted/unworn, buyer’s remorse, the nervous eyeing of real estate listings. Life’s overwhelm, conquered." -- The Atlantic
"All hail the new decluttering queen Marie Kondo, whose mess-busting bestseller has prompted a craze for tidying in homes across the world . . . one proper clear out is all you need for the rest of your life." -- Good Housekeeping (UK)
"How could this pocket-sized book, which has already sold over 2 million copies and sits firmly atop the New York Times Best Seller list, make such a big promise? Here's the short answer: Because it's legit. . . . Kondo's method really can change your life — if you let it." -- TODAY.com
"Kondo challenges you to ask yourself whether each object you have is achieving a purpose. Is it propelling you forward or holding you in the past?" -- USA Today
". . . a brief and bracing practical guide to tidying up your home." -- Financial Times
"[It is] enough to salute Kondo for her recognition of something quietly profound: that mess is often about unhappiness, and that the right kind of tidying can be a kind of psychotherapy for the home as well as for the people in it . . . Its strength is its simplicity." -- The London Times
About the Author
Marie “KonMari” Kondo runs an acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo helping clients transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. With a three-month waiting list, her KonMari Method of decluttering and organizing has become an international phenomenon. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK, with more than two million copies sold worldwide, and has been turned into a television drama for Japanese TV. She has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time, featured on more than thirty major Japanese television and radio programs, and profiled in the Sunday Times, Red magazine, You magazine, the New York Times, USA Today, NPR's Here & Now, Slate, Family Circle, and the London Times, who has deemed her “Japan’s preeminent guru of tidiness, a warrior princess in the war on clutter.”
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Typically I'll catch an episode of Hoarders, fear that I'm one incapacitating injury away from being the focus of an episode (if I can't clean up all those strewn papers, they'll just pile up to the rafters, after all!), and then go through a stack of junk in a fit of unhappiness. Not the best way to deal with it all.
Marie Kondo's book is the opposite of that. It's a breath of fresh air and positive energy that brings real joy to the process of "tidying up."
I was only about halfway through before I tackled my clothes. She's right to begin there. My clothes are all mine (which also means that they're in nowhere near as terrible a state as other things in my house), so going through them affects only me and involves only my own feelings. Her advice may sound silly at first, but if your belongings inspire feelings of unhappiness, guilt, etc., her anthropomorphism of them can really help you change your viewpoint in a positive direction. I finished up with three bags for Goodwill and one for the garbage man. My drawers and closet, which were never very messy, are now exactly as I want them, and I feel fantastic!
My one quibble with her instructions has to do with folding. I've always disliked rolls of items. Instead, I fold so I can line things up like files. This makes it easy to pull things out without everything falling over. For my five-year-old, I fold his t-shirts so the front image is visible on the fold, then file them in the drawer so he can see exactly which shirt is which. (Here's an example: [...]) This works well for socks as well as t-shirts, pajamas, etc.
Most of her advice and content is really focused on a Japanese audience. There are many things in the book that won't translate as well culturally for a Western/American readership. For example, she suggests that you greet your home much as you would a Shinto shrine. That is likely to carry a different level of meaning for someone in Japan than in the U.S. Other references to spiritual practice and feng-shui are not likely to resonate the same way for an American audience. I even wonder if the preference for rolling clothes is cultural, since I have such a strong reaction against it and instead prefer folding and filing!
The examples in the book also tend toward the childless female. There is a lot of discussion of travel toiletries, but very little about kitchen utensils, toys, or other items found most often in a family home. The home workshop, which is a particular problem in my home, gets no mention at all. Don't Japanese people own countless drills, boxes of screws, and electrical tape?
But the reason for reading this book is not the specific advice about t-shirts and cupboards. It's about changing your relationship with the stuff you own. The tone of her book is so upbeat and positive, it's infectious. It's hard to keep reading it to the end, because you want to jump up and start using her methods immediately. I had little trouble adjusting her suggestions to match my own cultural perspective and physical home.
In the book she mentions that it'll take 6 months to fully tidy your home so that everything left inspires joy. I'm now a week in, and 6 months seems like hardly enough time to tackle all the junk in my house, but I can fully see how this can be a life-changing process.