Book Review

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

My Thoughts

I’m not entirely sure of what I expected when I got into this book, I had heard about the author after she had become an international sweetheart with the debut of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It seemed like I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the show and the KonMari method, and being in a point in my life where I wanted to cut down on the stuff that I had in preparation for moving, I decided why not?

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

The two essential pieces of wisdom that Kondo advises readers are such: inspect each of your items and only keep that which sparks joy, and to tidy in one huge swoop to change your life. She provides a step by step guide on how to tidy thoroughly as well as offers advice on how to begin organizing and storing the items kept. The cleaning guru shares anecdotal stories about her youth, her experiences with clients, and the ways that she developed her method throughout the book.

When I first started reading I felt motivated, I had been separated for a few months and after moving in with family, all of the stuff that was in my old apartment was cluttering up the limited space I had at home and all of my furniture had been sitting in a storage unit for around a year. It was a drain on me financially and mentally, and so I decided that it was time to just cut my losses and give away, sell, or throw out as much as I could, which I did over the span of two weeks. Some of the advice that Kondo gives was helpful to me, particularly her advice about not feeling guilty about discarding things that I never used because it served it’s purpose already of giving me joy when I got it.

So I can attest that on some level, Kondo provides some sound advice to reconsider why we still own the things that we do. The keyword here though, is some. As much as I enjoyed some of the advice that she gave about rethinking what I had, there was just as much advice and other claims throughout the book that bordered on being ridiculous without any proof or scientific backing whatsoever. At one point she claims that tidying can help you lose weight and give you clearer skin and that it is better to leave kitchenware and sponges outside to dry because it will be disinfected better than simply drying it with a cloth or using a dish rack.

On top of these questionable claims, the book for a large part of it reads like a sales pitch, with constant mentions of how foolproof the KonMari method is and how the waitlist for her consulting business is proof of how successful it is. Some of Kondo’s personal stories also bordered on being neurotic and unhealthy, as she admits to throwing out her family’s belongings, bragging about how many bags of stuff she has thrown out, or claiming that she spends every moment thinking about tidying, ritually organizing, and talking to her possessions. It is clear that she has a public persona she is trying to create and uphold for her business, but there was a lot that just didn’t seem authentic.


I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.


  • Jennifer

    There have been a lot of great think pieces about this book, and I have yet to read it since I think I am pretty good about thinking through purchases, and I am very good at letting go of objects. I do like how she doesn’t push specific products for organizing.

    I would like to read the book to compare what I’ve watched with the show. Like you mentioning her throwing out family’s goods seems to go against what she says on the show that everyone in a house should be responsible for their stuff, promoting that children should be folding their clothes, cleaning their rooms, etc.

    Perhaps she gets the worst rep not for the things you point out (the weird fake sciencey stuff) but the fact that she can pinpoint the emotional aspect of cleaning. Men hate being told they are being emotional about keeping all those boxes of baseball cards, but it is pretty true. lol I have so many boxes of stuff that is from my husband and he keeps ignoring the boxes, because he needs to keep those “memories” but he has no idea what is actually in the box because he “never has time to go through it.”

    • Jamie

      I agree on the emotional aspect, she definitely struck a nerve with a lot of communities. Part of how I found out about her was because there was a big fuss about her in the book community, due to her saying that you only need to own a few books because you won’t read or re-read much anyway. There are plenty of people in the book community that read 50 or even 100 books a year, and to some, having a beautiful shelf sparks joy for them because it is their hobby.

      I remember reading on reddit somewhere, where they asked what this decade’s “trend” was for home, kind of like how in the 2000s granite counter tops were the rage. Someone pointed out that the 2010s will definitely be defined by the clean light colors and minimalist and neat style, which Kondo promotes heavily.

      Also agree that she doesn’t promote storage products, she mentions that she used to be addicted to them but found that they over complicated things sometimes, and if you are having to buy storage products you probably have too much stuff. For folks that watch the show I don’t think there is as much of a need to read the book unless you really want to get into applying her methods personally.

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