"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo


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Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Author: Marie Kondo
Start Date: 5/7/17
End Date: 5/11/17
# of Pages: 224
Edition: Ten Speed Press 1st edition hardcover (2014)
ISBN: 9781607747307
Purchase: Amazon

Quick Take: cleanly simple

Why I Chose It: The past few months have been cluttered as I've recovered from breaking my leg. I don't recall buying this book but it was on my shelf and I noticed it as I was itching to clean up, and it seemed worth checking out.

Quotes: (1) "Tidying in the end is just a physical act. The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it." (2) "Human judgment can be divided into two broad types: intuitive and rational. When it comes to selecting what to discard, it is actually our rational judgment that causes trouble. Although intuitively we know that an object has no attraction for us, our reason raises all kinds of arguments for not discarding it, such as 'I might need it later' or 'It's a waste to get rid of it.' These thoughts spin round and round in our mind, making it impossible to let go." (3) "It's paradoxical, but I believe that precisely because we hang on to such materials, we fail to put what we learn into practice." (4) "Can you think of any other time that you would really need your credit card statements? Do you imagine that you might need them for a court case to prove how much was withdrawn? That's not going to happen, so there is no need to treasure these statements for the rest of your life." (5) "Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out." (6) "But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future."

Other Notes: Most of my criticism and / or skepticism about this book (and the "KonMari" approach to cleaning / tidying / organizing) I think deserves passing through a culture filter...while the book is translated from the original Japanese to English, I'm not sure it properly accounts for some of the unique culture artifacts and assumptions contained within. For example, the author treats clothes, possessions, even houses anthropomorphically, as things, even "friends" to interact with. She makes some very strong claims which I can't agree with. But I did appreciate some of the general themes of the book - I reflected on the tendency to keep things I don't really need (she, I think rightly, pins much of our "hoarding" to unexamined living), and having an intentionality about living cleanly and simply. And some stuff, like criticism for storing things like credit card statements, hit home. I threw out a lot of paper this evening after finishing. Overall though, you can probably skip the book and watch a few YouTube videos.

BooksKarl Magnuson