Book Review: The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up
By Marie Kondo

My Edition:
Paperback, 186 pages
2017, Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 9780399580536

Through the medium of manga, Marie Kondo gives an illustrated summary of how to change your lifestyle and your outlook by learning to tidy up your home and keep it that way. She visits the apartment of young, single Chiaki, who can’t seem to keep anything about her life in order and helps her discover how to find what brings her joy.

I don’t normally read these type of lifestyle books and a manga edition was probably the only way I was ever going to pick up this book.

It’s a cute comic (fyi: it’s not set up in traditional manga style, you read this from front to back and left to right, or it won’t make much sense lol) and I enjoyed the art style. Marie organizes the book by category of items – the way she believes you should be organizing your own items, rather than room by room. The main categories she uses for items in your life are clothing, books, papers and sentimental books. Her first lesson is to think about your ideal lifestyle and what you want to achieve through tidying. She then tackles the best way to sort through items in these categories and finally ideas on how to store them. Her mantra throughout the book is to only keep what “sparks joy” in you.

I understand the general principle of this book, but the big takeaway for me was clothing organization. I am not at all like Chiaki, who lives in what I’d classify as a dump and who is someone I’d consider a slob. Sorry to any readers whose homes might be cluttered and “messy” – I’m not saying you’re a bad person, but if you leave your clothes and dishes and papers lying haphazardly all over every inch of your place, I think you’re a slob. Despite Sweetbeeps’s best efforts to create piles of clothing all over our house, I generally keep things tidy and could have people over without freaking out about the general state of our lives.

I could never live like this

But, I do tend to hoard certain items (other than books, yes) and we don’t have as much space as I’d like so tips on organization and culling my hoards are appreciated. I had already started the project of going through all my clothes before reading this and I did get some excellent tips on how to store clothes, especially in regards to folding what I keep in drawers. My closet storage is limited and that will be a challenge when I tackle it, but I can say since reading this book I’ve reorganized my bureau and folded my shirts and tanks and leggings per Marie’s method and it has given me more space and a better view of what items I have on hand. I won’t go into crazy detail,  but she stresses storing items upright and folding them into rectangles, almost like they’re in a file folder – this method puts less weight on your folded clothes, in addition to making it easier to see what you have, and I guess they’re less likely to wrinkle. I haven’t had this method in place long enough to test the less wrinkle theory though.

Okay, so enough about clothing. What I really disagreed with Marie on was her theory for keeping or discarding books. She claims you should not be reading what the book is about, but rather just touching the cover and seeing if it sparks joy within you. Sorry, but that’s not how I work. She asks, “Do you feel joy when surrounded by books that you’ve never read?” YES. She believes that you’ve missed ideal time to read a book you own (re: immediately after buying it) then “someday” never comes and you’ll never get to that book. Well, despite having a frighteningly massive TBR, I do pick up books at random, even ones I’ve owned for years. She also notes that you should donate all these unread books and they’ll come back to you if they’re meant to. I don’t believe that either! And why would I donate a book I bought and then possibly someday buy it again?

It’s not to say I never purge my collection – I do get rid of books I didn’t enjoy after reading them and I will go through my shelves randomly and pick out books I know I’m not going to read and donate them. But it would be depressing to only own books I’ve read! I like living in a library, thanks.

I do need to go through some of my more sentimental possessions and find a better way to store them, but chances are I’ll always own a lot of “stuff” because I like owning stuff and things. I also neglected to thank my clothing that I was getting rid of or to toss a pinch of salt on something to remove bad karma. These are sort of cultural/mindset ideas that don’t gel with me and I don’t feel the need to perform them when discarding my things.

I don’t necessarily think I’m the target audience for this book, but it did inspire me to get back into going through my clothing, which I appreciated.  I also understand the overall message, which is, don’t let items that don’t give you joy (or are functionally necessary, I suppose) clutter up your life. I think if you’re looking for a quick, animated summary of tips for organizing your whole home, you might enjoy this more than I did.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Marie’s site.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up

  1. I was intrigued by folding your clothes upright. But…I have to admit I’m not sure any of my books will “spark joy” within me simply if I touch the spines. Time for them all to go? 😀

    • After a couple weeks of testing, I’m still liking the upright folding. Some of my books would deff spark joy, but mostly the ones I’ve read. This book is definitely not got book hoarders/collectors.

  2. Nicole Contreras says:

    Maybe I should borrow this edition of the book. I have the regular one and I started it but stopped. I keep meaning to pick it up again but sometimes I feel like pick up a book about cleaning or read another book… so maybe as a manga I’d be like okay let’s do this. Though I admit her philosophy on cleaning up in relation to books, as kind of totally turned me off. Because no, I’m not getting rid of my books.

    • It’s deff a one size fits all approach and doesn’t seem to account for different lifestyles or collections. It’s clear to me it was written by someone with very different cultural views than myself

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