Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Kondo, Marie. Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Trans. Cathy Hirano. Berkley: Ten Speed, 2011. Print.

Summary: A cheery little book that walks the reader through culling one’s belongings

Now that I’ve had a chance to “do the book” aka the KonMari Method, I can review it. It’s quirky, written like a conversation sprinkled with anecdotes. I enjoyed it, particularly Kondo’s folding method, which helped me organize La Casa de Tontería’s  linen closet of doom. (However, she did a poor job of explaining it. See related link below.)

I’ve read many books on organization (not to mention having time-management seminars and work-efficiency training – oh, the corporate world!)  Yet I still found interesting variations on the theme.

Sort By Category

Forget moving clockwise through a room or tackling one space in a weekend. Kondo calls for dealing with one category at a time, starting with clothes and ending with sentimental items.

Reading this, I felt nostalgic for the days of spring-cleaning my bedroom, where everything but my bicycle “lived” with me. I used to empty my closet and dresser onto the bed, try everything on, and ta-da! only the best were kept.

Kids will love this, and her Rule of Thumb regarding papers: Throw them out!

However, adults have to hunt for like items all over, including storage areas for off-season clothes. Kondo is tough about getting  everything from the category.

“You can forget about any clothes you find after this. They’ll automatically go into the discard pile.” I let them (my clients) know I’m quite serious. I have no attention of letting them keep anything found after the sorting is done.

Yikes! Long-time readers will understand how I felt when I decided to use the KonMari Method on books.

Everybody Thing Get On the Floor! (Walking Dinosaurs and Shaking One’s Booty are optional)

Yes, the floor. My klutziness instantly recognized a good way to trip and die!  Imagine the challenge it poses for parents of small children. Not to mention cluttered people already have difficulty clearing floorspace.

However,  Kondo insists on it.  Items in their natural environment (shelf, closet) “remain unseen, just like a praying mantis still in the grass, merging with its surroundings” (p. 87). She notes that if books are already stacked on the floor, moving them to another location will allow the tidier to really see them.

Love It or Let It Go – and don’t forget to thank it!

This part of Kondo’s approach comes from her Shinto background. Have a shirt that just doesn’t look right?  Tell it, “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t look good on me.” Then give it away.

In some of the reviews I’d read, people openly mocked her thanking objects before getting rid of them. I suppose it’s part and parcel of the “religious people are stupid and/or crazy” theme in constant circulation.

Too bad. I admire Kondo for basing her system on her beliefs. Plus, it was fun to read about how to deal with Buddhist vs Shinto charms.

Book Project Conclusion: 

Gift to the Library – which has about four copies on hold


Folding. Here’s a good  video of a Q&A with and folding demonstration by Marie Kondo, hosted by 92nd Street Y.

A critical look at the KonMari Method’s efficacy, among other things. Barry Yourgrau’s article at the New Yorker.



2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  1. Did you read the next book about the joy? My sisterliness wants it for her birthday.

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