Thursday, February 11, 2016

Distiller: Doni Faber
Rating: 2/5 Stars

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class On the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up
By Marie Kondo
Ten Speed Press
January 5, 2016
(291 pages)

When I picked up this book, I thought the best way to reduce my clutter is to not keep buying books like this.
I love Kondo's method of sorting: that which fills you with joy, keep. That which does not, get rid of. Her books are so much more vibrant than more decluttering books. And I secretly relate very strongly to her idea that objects resonate with the energy of how they are used.
However, I feel like this companion book is an apology to the responses Kondo has gotten to The Life-Changing Magic. She has claimed that anyone following her approach will not have a relapse. And then she tells the story of a client who called up, claiming a relapse. But when Kondo went over, she said the house was just temporarily cluttered and could be cleaned up in the space of a half an hour
To me, this feels like a technicality. It's not a relapse, just temporary clutter.  My house is very cluttered and I feel like it is mostly the habits that are at fault. Even if I got rid of many belongings and found a home for everything (granted, two things that would help a lot), I still think I would get sloppy. Sometimes I care about what my house looks like and sometimes I don't. It is this inconsistency that is really the problem.

In her first book, I certainly didn't follow her instructions to the letter because there were some things that seemed practical to keep even if they didn't inspire me with joy. She clarifies her advice in Spark Joy. She found herself turning a screw with her fingernail because she didn't keep a screw driver. This absurd incident helped her realize that keeping things that make your life easier inspire joy as well.

I appreciated the first section which described how to add joy to your house once you have gutted it of the unessential so that it is not too stark: things like decorating the insides of drawers with sentimental fabrics. In another section, she describes how to fold clothes in more detail with accompanying diagrams. I'm sure those who are trying to follow her instructions precisely will appreciate these additions. I actually skipped over them because they were too technical for someone who hasn't yet committed to decluttering.

Kondo has obviously become very successful at tidying, with her book being translated into thirty-five languages. But there was one part where she admitted she doesn't have many other interests than tidying. My reaction was, “Oh dear, I feel sorry for you.” She ameliorates this by what she says near the end: “Therefore, I urge you once again: finish putting your things in order as soon as you can, so that you can spend the rest of your life surrounded by the people and things that you love most.”

For those who loved the first book and want more detail, I am sure they will appreciate this companion. But for those who just want a general approach to tidying, the first book suffices.


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