The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing | Book Review

kondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was published in 2014, so I’m pretty late to the party. However, I had been looking for a quick, enjoyable read, and Kondo’s book turned out to be a great choice.

I listened to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on audiobook over the course of a few days. In her work, Kondo offers a philosophical approach to tidying up—all at once & by category, not location—that is easy to implement. Kondo firmly asserts throughout the book that when you adopt her approach to get your house in order, you will also get your affairs and past in order.

There is something to be said for seeing immediate, tangible results by discarding objects that do not bring you joy or happiness, which is the cornerstone of Kondo’s approach. Discard first. Store second. And it is easier to stay motivated when we can see tangible results quickly. By discarding many items at once, we are likely to get rid of far more items than we can replace anytime soon. To make believers out of readers, Kondo inserts many personal examples throughout the book about how her clients have learned to tidy up. I enjoyed listening to these examples, as well as the personal testimony that Kondo offered about her own relationship to objects throughout the course of her life.

Although I can support Kondo’s overall approach, I found myself frustrated with the lack of discussion about the importance of recycling and donating discarded objects. Books, clothing, and other miscellaneous items can all be donated to a variety of nonprofit or for-profit organizations—assuming they are still in good condition. Kondo does mention asking relatives if they could use the items but doesn’t go into great detail about other possibilities.

I also found that the idea of saying thank you to my objects felt a bit odd, but I understand the significance of Kondo’s suggestion that we do so. I don’t typically say thank you to my objects, but I frequently think of how my objects were made and where they came from. My most precious objects—the ones that consistently spark joy—are objects that were handmade by artisans. My stoneware mugs, handmade scarves, and a few scattered pieces of folk art are treasured and enjoyed. I know who made the objects, what materials they used, where the materials came from, and that I paid a price that was fair to both the producer and the consumer. I also limit my consumption of mass-produced items, and I recycle and reuse items whenever I can. This language and thinking is simply more familiar to me—but thanking your objects for their service may indeed make you more grateful for them, which may also make you take better care of them and store them properly.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone looking to tidy up their space—and their life. If you’ve been holding onto boxes of papers or school-related books because you are afraid of the future, or refusing to let go of letters and pictures from former relationships because you can’t let go of the past, then now might be a good time to pick up Kondo’s book. I am glad that I listened to this short, engaging book, and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about putting their house in order.

Best of luck tidying up!




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