Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Normally, I don’t really read self-help type books, and I’d rather actually clean my house than read a book about cleaning my house. Still, when I read Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2015, I was inspired to clean more, tidy more, and actually throw away things I wasn’t using. To be clear, I have not under any possible interpretation followed Kondo’s exact methods, and I never followed through on a lot of the organizing I meant to do because other things just came up, and then I forgot. Still, as someone who frequently feels guilty throwing away or donating items for various reasons, I found her method enlightening, and it’s really helped me. I’ve donated many boxes of clothing and household items that I otherwise would have kept around just in case, not to mention furniture, and I also threw away things I obviously didn’t need. I even used some of her philosophy to help when finally cleaning out my childhood bedroom last summer.
When I got a copy of Spark Joy in a PopSugar mystery box last year, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. I had already read Kondo’s book, and I thought I didn’t need a refresher. I pretty much knew what to do: keep only things that bring you joy, and get rid of the rest, and organize by category rather than by room (which, for most of us, is easier said than done). This week, though, after coming down with a nasty stomach bug (sorry) and not wanting to read anything I had to focus on too much, I picked it up and decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did, and I have plans to give/lend this book to others to help in their organizing.
What I liked about this book was that it did serve as a good refresher, but more importantly, it’s illustrated, which is particularly helpful when it comes to folding clothes. I hate folding my clothes, and while I do it, it’s usually fairly haphazard and not neat and tidy at all. I’m hopeful that Kondo’s folding techniques will save me space in my dresser and inspire me to generally be tidier about my clothes storage. The other pictures are cute, but less helpful.
She recommends reading her primary work first, but I’m honestly not sure it’s necessary. Yes, there were a lot of inspirational stories about people’s lives being changed through organizing and tidying, but there was also a lot of the spiritual stuff that turned people off. This book goes through the method itself and gives tips on how to accomplish tidying each category without as much of the silly stuff. (Although, I will admit, the silly stuff is one of the things that makes this work for me. It may seem weird to most people to thank your possessions before getting rid of them, but for me and people like me who feel guilty discarding gifts or items we paid a not-insignificant amount of money for, I think it’s helpful.)
I’m inspired to get back to tidying now, and while I almost certainly won’t follow all of her suggestions, I’ll be using many of her ideas to help keep my house tidy and my possessions in check. I’m already eager to start discarding clothing items I’ve only kept around out of guilt that I spent money on them (like the dozen pairs of almost identical skinny jeans I never wear) and things I just flat out don’t need (two dozen pairs of older socks I don’t wear because I bought newer, better ones). I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to at least get through my clothing and paper items before moving on to other projects, and that by the end, I’ll feel good about what I’ve kept and what I haven’t.
If you have any organizing or tidying ambitions, I do recommend reading this. It’s got helpful ideas, and even if you don’t take all of her suggestions and follow her technique to the letter, I think it will inspire you to get started on your “organizing festival.” Plus, it’s just in time for spring cleaning, and who couldn’t stand to toss out at least a few things? I gave this book four stars for its useful tips and for inspiring me to do better.