The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Well, there’s been a bit of buzz about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever and it is an Amazon no 1 Best Seller. I have had it lurking on my wish list for a month or two and was thinking of adding it to my Christmas List, when thankfully my local library decided to purchase a copy. I had to wait a week for someone else to finish reading it, but it is now in my possession.

What a load of tosh- for the largest part anyway! I am SO glad I didn’t waste my money purchasing it. I think the woman who wrote it needs some good mental health care, as she is clearly unwell. I recognise that there will also be some cultural differences, but most people do not talk to their belongings! Towards the end of the book, she does address the possible psychological reasons behind her behaviours. The difficulty for her is that although she has some insight, she has not found new coping mechanisms. Instead she chooses to find her worth and companionship in stuff, however much she has managed to pare that down and the organisation of that stuff. She has many, many rituals and routines which sound like obsessions with which she fills her life.

The book waffles on unnecessarily, mostly covering the same ground for 3/4 of it. At the end of the day, I find her approach fairly ridiculous- if I only kept items that sparked joy within my heart when I held them, there would be little of use in my house. We all need items like can openers and potato peelers. We don’t always have the luxury of purchasing the items that ‘spark joy’ because of cost, time or other constraints.

I find her whole approach to be highly immature, it doesn’t sound as though she has ever lived away from her parental home nor held a position of any responsibility. If she had, she would know that you do need to keep important documents, manuals and warranties. She makes several wild assertions that you will never need these things, or be taken to court. But from personal experience, that is naive to say the least! I cannot imagine the inconvenience of having to say traipse down to my local phone shop, to ask how my phone works because I have thrown out the manual or applications CD. The staff would get extremely annoyed with you and nowadays, we are lucky if we even have stores local to us. I have on numerous occasions needed to dig out old paperwork related to insurance policies, banking or housing in order to prove my case for compensation and the like.

Alongside all of this, she encourages you to throw away so much stuff. Not recycle, not offer it to charities for re-use, no just send it all to landfill. I find this quite repulsive and disrespectful to the environment and other people. People who might need the things we no longer have a use for, people who put time, effort and skill into making these items. Again, she does renegotiate on this later on in the book, but only in a passing sentence or two.

She advocates things like not keeping spare buttons because once the buttons fall off- your garment has had its day. I mean, come on- how naive and immature! Granted, a good proportion of our population may agree with her- given the number of items missing a button that I find in charity shops and repair within minutes, to be good as new. I can only think that she is really that stupid or too rich to care.

You may want to read this book purely for its comedy value, as I have never laughed so hard in years. To give you an excerpt:

“Have you ever had the experience where you thought what you were doing was a good thing but later learnt that it hurt someone? At the time, you were totally unconcerned, oblivious to the other person’s feelings. This is somewhat similar to the way many of us treat our socks.”

“I pointed to the balled up socks. ‘Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they get any rest like that? That’s right. The socks and tights stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday.”

“When in doubt, ask your house and the item being stored what is the best solution.”

I ask you- do these sound like the words of a well woman? Someone who is in their right and rational mind?! She claims that she has developed these rituals from her experience of attending Shinto shrines. However I have not ever come across anthropomorphism in my understanding of the Japanese Shinto religion. Whilst I do think we can all use a bit more gratitude in our lives in order to increase our levels of happiness. I feel that she has taken this to the extreme.

Overall, I am left with the feeling that this book has no sound basis or philosophy behind it. I think that is why it seems so weak, watery and incoherent as a whole. At least if she was a minimalist, then she would have a foundation for not allowing excess items back into her life again. But she acknowledges that some things are bought just for the thrill and that you can learn from making bad purchases. To me, this is just an excuse to cover up wasteful behaviours. I sincerely hope that she uses the proceeds of her book to get herself the care she so clearly needs.

All of this said, I notice that she has published a number of Youtube videos which actually show her methods for folding etc. I am open to trying it with maybe 1 drawer to see if it really is life-changing! Watch this space- I will report back in due course.

Now it’s your turn….have you read this book? What are your thoughts?