You might think that a book about tidying is not destined for popularity. But you would be wrong: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has sold 1.5 million copies. Kondo has become something of a celebrity—she has been written about in the New York Times and is the subject of a TV movie in Japan. She is in such high demand that she has stopped accepting clients; there is a waiting list for the waiting list.
In her book, Kondo explains that her passion for tidying began when she was a child. But no matter what she tried, a mess would always reappear. One afternoon when she was a teenager, she broke down in tears, frustrated by her failure and she fell asleep in despair. In her book, she claims that she heard a voice telling her to “look more closely at what is there.” This inspired her to create her KonMari method for tidying. While some readers may be skeptical about Kondo’s epiphany, the success of her book suggests that, spiritual awakening or not, she is on to something.
The core of the book describes her method, which is surprisingly simple. It requires just two actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, she views discarding as the more important – but each item needs “proper consideration.” The best way to decide whether to keep something is to ask yourself: “Does it spark joy?” This seems like a high bar, but she claims that it is the most effective method for creating a tidy environment.
For those who worry that messy toddlers or disorderly partners will ruin their newfound tidiness, Kondo has an answer. She struggled with her own family’s refusal to tidy up, at one point secretly throwing away their belongings. Her advice for anyone with the same problem is to check their own space, where they will almost certainly find that it is not clear. Kondo claims that, once you tidy your own space, it “sets off a chain reaction,” encouraging the rest of the family to do the same.
This book is ideal for anyone who struggles with the stress of tidying. Simple, well-explained and entertaining, Kondo’s guide makes for a great read. She insists that her method builds a new mindset; that you only have to experience a state of perfect order once to maintain it. She claims, surprisingly, that she only tidies her house once or twice a year. Why? “Because it is already tidy.”