How many of you have read the book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?? Even if you haven’t read it, I am sure you have heard about this book. People are swearing by this philosophy of keeping things you love, and getting rid of the rest.
While I really like most of what Marie Kondo has to say, there are some aspects of the book I find a little too difficult to implement… especially when you have young children.
But I was curious as to what others thought of this book, so my friend Jodi of Jodi Brandon Editorial and myself are doing a book swap book review! I shared my thoughts over on Jodi’s blog! And Jodi is going to share her thoughts here!! So take it away Jodi!
These discussion questions are from The Beautiful Day blog.
Which of Marie Kondo’s tips had the most impact for you?
I like the idea that we should choose what to keep, rather than choose what to get rid of. That feels like a better way to look at our possessions. We all, I think, want to be surrounded by things that we love — things that bring us joy. No one sets out to have oodles of things to discard or donate.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is now a bestseller. Why do you think people are resonating so much with this book?
I think on some level we recognize that we all have too much STUFF, which causes too much clutter (physical and mental). But it’s hard to strike a balance sometimes, particularly with gifted items because we feel guilty for not keeping/displaying/using them. I notice after the holidays when I “de-Christmas” the house it feels so clean and spacious and open — yet also empty because it’s missing the things (photos, knickknacks, etc.) that make it our home. And comparatively, my home doesn’t contain a lot of excess. In part that’s probably because I moved a lot growing up and was responsible for packing my own things as I got older (so hauling boxes from one home to another, packing and unpacking, I got pretty judicious about what made the cut). My husband and I also don’t have children, who come with their own STUFF (whether equipment such as swings and high chairs or toys). That makes it much easier for everything to have a home and for everything to be in its place. This is not to say that there aren’t nights when the corkscrew is left on the kitchen counter or the television remote is tossed behind a couch cushion, but generally speaking, a 10-minute tidy in my house is much different from one in my sister’s house, in which there are a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old in addition to the two adults.
What are the cultural differences you noticed between Japan and the USA?
This is not from the book, but I think in general space is a difference. In the United States, we seem to feel that bigger is better when it comes to everything, including the size of our homes. I won’t say it’s easier to keep a smaller space clutter-free, because I do think we tend to fill the space we have, but perhaps the size living space is more consistent in Japan. In other words, maybe people don’t grow up in an apartment and move to a McMansion as an adult, so perhaps Japanese people are more accustomed to living with less stuff to start. We definitely have a culture of excess in the United States and a tendency to want to keep up with the Joneses.
Why do you think THIS book on de-cluttering is such a success over others?
Two reasons. One is timing. I think it was published at a time when many had reached the “boiling point” and were desperate to find a method that worked. And two, book marketing genius. The phrase “life-changing” in the title certainly appealed to many people because we’ve all done the usual beginning-of-year decluttering and don’t want to have to do it every year. So something that’s a one-and-done, this-will-change-your-life solution (AKA you’ll never have to start January with a decluttering/get organized challenge again) appeals. Sometimes lightning strikes with a book, and this was definitely one of those times! When this book was first released, EVERYONE was talking about it. It’s not become part of pop culture references and was even mentioned in the recent Gilmore Girls revival.
Was this book life-changing for you in the end?
Helpful and insightful in some ways? Yes. Life-changing? No. There were definitely tips that I thought were great ideas, and I can see WHY she says to gather every single piece of whatever category you’re working on, and I can see why she says it all has to be done at once. Almost without exception, though, all of the friends and relatives who’ve read this book and done this modified the process to, most often, take a series of days to complete. I also admit I was a bit biased toward the author as the book went on. She seemed to be a bit condescending (and I’m not just saying that because she took a swipe at sweatpants, calling them “not very attractive,” and because I imagine my yoga pants uniform falls into the same category for her!) and I felt like she takes the process too seriously (treat your socks and stockings with respect?! Come on!).