Spark Joy by Marie Kondo – book review

by Edith Cody-Rice

Spark Joy by Marie KondoMarie Kondo is the Japanese tidying guru who created an international sensation with her first book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She confesses that she became a tidying aficionado at the age of 5, reading everything she could about storage, tidying, discarding and creating pleasing spaces. As she herself says, she has few interests other than tidying.

Perhaps we, in developed countries really need someone like this. We accumulate so much “stuff” that we continually buy storage to store and restore hundreds of items that we possess but no longer need or use. Ms. Kondo’s approach is spiritual, and she treats objects  like sentient beings. Her central thesis is to keep only things that “spark joy” and to thank the rest and show gratitude for their function in our lives and then discard them. This she calls the KonMari method.

In this her second book, she refines on the message of the first. Ms. Kondo is the extreme tidier and if you follow her strictly you may retain few of your possessions, but in her second book, she acknowledges that there may be a few things that, although they are no longer useful, may still have a place in your life. She softens her message a bit but still, if you follow her methods, you will discard probably at least half of your possessions.

This new book goes into excruciating detail on the way to approach tidying – clothes go first – on the categories of belongings – get all items in a category together and go through them touching each one and keeping only those that “spark joy” – how to fold clothes from tops to socks and display them in a drawer and how to hang clothes in a closet to spark joy. She also endorses folding items so that they go into drawers vertically so that each item is easily found.

The approach may seem a bit loopy, but as soon as I finished the book, I had to rush to the bathroom to rearrange and throw out unneeded things and to organize some bedroom drawers. She is right – when you fold things according to her method, they take up much less space, are easily found and make the drawer look like a piece of art. I even rearranged cupboards according to her precepts – dark, long and heavy things on the left, rising to jackets and lighter things on the right. According to Ms. Kondo, this will spark joy and while I am not sure that is quite what I felt, the cupboard did look much better organized.

Whether you are an extreme tidier or not, this book has many useful tips, keeping in mind that it was written for a Japanese audience and so has many references to Japanese utensils and foods.

If you want to watch her display her methods, you may do so in this KonMari method