[Book Review] Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Kondo Marie

Written as more of a casual conversation exploring the reasons why we keep things we don’t care about than an extensive textbook tutorial about materialism, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Kondo Marie has many simple revelations sprinkled throughout its breezy reading. Unlike the trivial Netflix series that overly dramatizes the unimportant, the book it’s based on wins its merit through asking tough questions, including: Would you be OK with letting this book go?

Rating: ★★★★☆ [4/5]

We grow fond of objects for various reasons.

If, through reading this book, you get a sensation that, “yes, there are things that I can get rid of around my home,” you might feel a natural inclination toward clinging onto the object that inspired such feelings. Especially with Kondo’s informal writing style, the book might feel more like an acquaintance you’d occasionally like to chat with again.

Part of the lesson is deciding what to do with the book.

If you display the book in your book collection and each time you see it inspires a sense of empowerment toward reinvigorating your living areas, and therefore your life, then you should probably keep it. The decision is a deeply personal one because many times we hold onto books or things out of a sense of obligation.

This existential nuance couldn’t be captured in a TV drama.

If you see a home nearly representing a magazine catalog with a made-up family fighting over trivialities, any of those factors might lead you to stop empathizing with this notion that you might have an overabundance that is actually causing you to feel bad. With impressionistic broad strokes and pointillistically specific examples, Kondo paints a bigger picture of how clutter can consume our lives.

Do we really need so much?

If we respect the things we own, Kondo argues that through a sort of Shintoist lense, the things we own will respect us. Though Pollyannic personification seems excessive, thanking the possessions we use after they’ve served us can help us develop our abilities to express and notice gratitude toward others and ourselves, which can be helpful in times of stress.

It’s like when we’re cooking with quality tools and ingredients.

If the tools work well, they’re easier to work with and more convenient. If the ingredients are sufficiently fresh, we don’t have to mask their taste with spices or sauces. If our possessions are only what we cherish the most, then when we wear what we love or are surrounded by what we enjoy we feel better. Subconsciously, we know what we don’t like being around.

Why own such objects?

If we respectfully get rid of anything that brings us negative, mixed, or neutral memories that won’t serve us, what’s left but the best? We won’t need to worry so much about embarrassing ourselves when we invite people over, or when we ourselves are living at our most intimate. Kondo ultimately argues for the quality favorites over the quantity maximum.

I’ll lend out the book, but won’t discard it.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My interpretation of the book.
Inspirations: Besides reading the book? And downsizing my possessions?
Related: My other Book Reviews and other Downsizing Zeal essays.
Photos: The book around my downsizing shelves.
Written On: April 13th [41 minutes]
Last Edited: First draft; final draft for the Internet.

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.