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 long enough that they have the chance to satisfy, dissatisfy or dement you. Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.
I read in a variety of ways – ebooks, audiobooks – and never mind donating or sharing books. But I can’t imagine what a blank collection of physical books I’d be left with if they had to spark joy.
[From The Guardian via Lifehacker]
This is a similar argument that organizer Ray made against the Konmari method too. A can opener doesn’t spark joy but you need one. (I got rid of the tongs when I was decluttering my kitchen using Clutterbug and quickly realized that was stupid. It was my own fault though.) As for books, I like Lifehacker’s argument that books exist both for you and for your visitors, to tell them something about you. Nick Douglas makes the case that they’re similar to clothing in that way. It’s not only about how it makes us feel, it’s about the image they help us project. I guess the lesson here is “you do you,” keep what you want and discard the rest, but don’t save a bunch of sh-t or your house will be a mess. There are hard decisions to be made and we have to let go of some ideas along with our stuff.
Does it spark joy? The rules of tidying according to #MarieKondo. #sketchnotes pic.twitter.com/KiJZk3zcNR
— Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian) January 5, 2019
for the book lovers who are mad at #MarieKondo for suggesting that having lots of books = clutter, let me tell you about an item that I have that sparks joy like none other: my #library card
— Molly Collins (@mollyec_art) January 10, 2019
Don’t listen to #MarieKondo! Of COURSE the thousands of books I have in storage and strewn across a too-small apartment spark joy in me! Throw them away?? ¿Qué??
— Anais M.🍕 (@anais917_m) January 10, 2019
Uh, no. The. Books. Stay. #blasphemy 📚📚📚📚📚#MarieKondo’s #TidyingUp advice on getting rid of #books sparks debatehttps://t.co/VzcDkEPNLi
— Lisa Daily 🌸 (@lisadaily) January 4, 2019
photos courtesy of Netflix press