Wednesday, February 18, 2015

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

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo; The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo; The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What an odd little book. It kept popping up as a recommendation on many disparate websites, so I put it on hold at the library and my turn finally came up this week, along with a snowstorm, giving me time to read it.

I didn't need much-- it's very short; without the anecdotes, it could be a short blog series, and probably should have been. The author has the key ingredient of greatness: obsession with her target skill; in this case, organizing. The translation selected for the English process of "sorting, decluttering, and organizing" is "tidying" here, and that is what she describes.

She rigidly prescribes that we tackle our objects in the order of clothes, books, paperwork, miscellany, and mementoes, so as not to get bogged down in sentimentality and slow the process. She promises that once sorted, we will be effortlessly tidy for the rest of our lives. She's very young and single, too.

For someone drowning in a surfeit of possessions, this book might help start the process of decluttering, but it's written for a Japanese audience. In urban Japan, people live in small apartments, and by necessity, cannot own more than a certain amount of the above categories of items. In the larger housing across much of the US, bringing all of one's objects to a central space to touch and emote with them may simply not be physically possible.

As a cultural offering, the anthropomorphizing of objects is charming, but the practicality may not translate as well as the passionate obsession Kondo has for minimalism and organization. As someone who has made a lifelong practice of traveling through life rather lightly, I'm not sure there's much advice for me here-- but it passed a few amusing hours during a snowstorm.

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