I’ve only watched episode one of Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, Tidying Up. She’s so genuinely caring, and so disarming, that the couple she helped adored her and their kids fawned over her too. You want her to come into your house and magically make your life easier and your relationship better. The show has inspired a lot of people to tidy and declutter their stuff and it’s very well reviewed. I really enjoyed this review by professional organizer Jaclyn Ray on Refinery 29. She perfectly explained Kondo’s method of praying to the house and of “waking up” books by tapping on them. “To me it was like when you’re in a yoga class with an instructor and you’re doing your poses and then the teacher just goes way off into the woooo.” Exactly! Like you finish the class but aresurprised how wacky it got. Ray also said that teaching her clients to fold wouldn’t work, because they would never maintain that. “I don’t really see the point of Kondo’s intricate folding method… visit those houses 10 months later. Eighty percent of my clients are repeat customers.”
Do you remember that show Clean Sweep in the early 2000s on TLC? That was the inspiration to my decluttering guru, Clutterbug. (Her books will change your life!) Clean Sweep dealt with some borderline cases, but it featured people with spaces that were still livable, unlike Hoarders, which can be disturbing as we discussed. There’s Queer Eye and house makeover shows, but there was an untapped market for shows of everyday people bettering their spaces and processes. This show is sorely needed, but many people don’t like Kondo’s approach to books. She recommends keeping about 30 books, however she lets people keep more if they want. That sounds ok to me as I use the library usually and don’t keep books around, but a lot of people dislike it. Here’s an editorial from The Guardian discussing it, and some tweets are below.
While I’d heed Kondo’s “Konmari method” for habits such as folding T-shirts, she is woefully misguided when she says we should get rid of books that don’t give us “joy”.
The metric of objects only “sparking joy” is deeply problematic when applied to books. The definition of joy (for the many people yelling at me on Twitter, who appear to have Konmari’d their dictionaries) is: “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness, a thing that causes joy, success or satisfaction.” This is a ludicrous suggestion for books. Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us…
As for culling one’s unread books – while that may be essential for reducing fire and tripping hazards, it is certainly not a satisfying engagement with the possibilities of literature. (Unless it’s self-help or golf, in which case, toss it.) Success is, eventually, actually reading your unread books, or at least holding on to them …read more