A Rollicking Review: Marie Kondo’s Tidy Book and a Messy View

In last week’s post Paring Down and Tidying Up, I referred to Marie Kondo’s New York Times best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. Her book has sold over 5 million copies and is being translated into 40 languages.  I promised you a review and here it is.


The Review: The life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo

“Organize your home once, and you’ll never have to do it again.” Tidying consultant Marie Kondo, who has a three-month waiting list, insists you will never again have to sift through snowdrifts of papers or endure clothes that pile up like a tangled mess of noodles. Just follow her revolutionary category-by-category system.

Kondo’s solution is simple but not necessarily easy, especially for pack rats. Effective tidying, she admits, involves only two essential actions: Discarding things and deciding where to store what you keep. Kondo instructs her clients to pick up items one by one and ask, “ Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.” (60)

Simply put, tackle major categories like clothing, books, and papers. Sort by category, not rooms: Sort all clothing at the same time, then move on to books, and so on.

Her chapter headings are iconoclastic: “Clothing: Place Every Item Of Clothing in the House on the Floor.” Do the same with books. Interestingly, her chapter titles yell in capital letters while her book title sits calmly on the cover, lower-case, in a cloud of blue.

Kondo’s wit and humor permeates her 254-page instruction book. She admits to coming home and falling asleep on the floor without even changing her clothes (195) writing this book. In the Afterword, she confesses that she once had to call an ambulance because the day before she had tidied too much and found her neck and shoulders frozen stiff from “looking into the cupboard above the closet and moving heavy furniture” (255).

Why do clients of the eponymous KonMari Method not relapse? The secret lies in a chapter entitled “Reduce Until You Reach the Point Where Something Clicks.” Apparently, satisfied clients have reached their clicking point! Some have even lost weight and experienced a clearer complexion as “detoxing” their houses has had a refreshing effect upon their bodies. (241)

One of her most valuable bits of advice was the functionality of sturdy shoeboxes to store lingerie and socks. Then, she suggests, use the tops like a tray to keep cooking oils, spices, and odd utensils in their rightful place. I may use such advice moving into our new space.

Marie Kondo’s tidying impulse began at age 5 while reading home and lifestyle magazines. She volunteered to be the classroom organizer in grade school. Now in her New York Times best seller, Kondo enthusiastically promotes the Japanese art of de-cluttering and organizing, a magical system that has become her life’s calling.

Not everyone buys into this magic. Sanford in the TV series, Sanford and Son didn’t, and neither did my father as I show in a blog post entitled Neat Versus Messy. It features a poem “Delight in Disorder.”

Dad's Office

My father died many years ago in 1985. During this Father’s Day week, I pause to give thanks. Though my dad did not give me a love for order (Mother did that), he gave me other sterling values: love of music, intellectual curiosity, and appreciation for the natural world. For those I give thanks.

Daddy in his later years, taking a breather
Daddy, often winning trips and other prizes for top sales, takes a breather. Sign courtesy of Cliff Beaman, 1976


* * *

One day soon, we will take what we have curated from our possessions and move it to our next home. It will be very messy for a while.


What is your take on the KonMari Method? What tried and true tips can you add?



As we make the transition – painting, packing, and re-assembling in another space, future blog posts may be sparse and my comments on your blogs may be spotty too.

I love our weekly connections here and will miss them temporarily. Soon I’ll be back. Enjoy each summer day!


49 thoughts on “A Rollicking Review: Marie Kondo’s Tidy Book and a Messy View

  1. Your father won prizes for being top salesperson so it doesn´t surprise me that he was not organized. Organized folks don´t become top sales people! He obviously gave you some amazing attributes. We both have wonderful fathers to remember this Sunday. Father’s Day is celebrated here in Spain on Sunday as well. The book sounds great. Should have had it when we moved. Oh well, we managed quite well anyway. Good luck with the big move and see you back here later. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I saw the satisfied look on Dad’s face again when I popped it into this post. He worked so very hard behind the desk, in the shop, and in farmers’ fields. Come to think of it, the (Swiss) work ethic was another of his gifts to me. Thanks for noticing the details, Jill.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wishing you well on your transition, Marian. It’s a lot of work but such a blessing when it comes together. I may need to check out that book. I didn’t do near as much paring down as I should have before our move. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been using shoe and boot boxes for storage for years: nice, easy and cheap way of organising things. Could label them for good measure! Clothes that haven’t been worn for more than 2 years are to be given or thrown away. Unwanted gifts and bric-a-brac go the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting ideas, but I’m not ready yet. I think that’s necessary, otherwise, it’s too painful! I accidentally got rid of one of my favorite books, Christy by Catherine Marshall! I’m looking for another copy of it. I’m hoping I can get it on my Kindle. Good luck with moving and come back to your blog soon. I’ll miss you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I do remember Christy! Probably other readers here read it too when it first came out. I am sure you can find the Kindle version, but used copies are also available through Amazon. I saw a used paperback for $ 1.94 + shipping here: https://www.amazon.com/Christy-Catherine-Marshall/dp/1122676468/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465999502&sr=1-3&keywords=christy+by+catherine+marshall

      I’ll miss you too, Anita. Be back soon – Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Contrary to commercial ads about the plain people, not all Mennonites are neatniks. I’m surprised you like the desk photo, but you can be sure I’m hanging on to it.

      Readers, Luci is a new reader with a background similar to mine. Check out her blog http://lucindajmiller.com where she writes about her sprawling close family, being Mennonite, and funny stuff, to quote from her About page.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marian I’m going to miss you. You have your plate full. The picture of dad is how I always remember him happy and smiling. How I miss them. Oh, but the memories are great. I loved going to the shop with mom. I remember looking at the time anticipating dad coming through the door for dinner which was lunch. My first introduction to the difference. Dinner to me was supper. I adjusted to great change that I value everyday in my life and want to hand down to my children. I have been so blessed to have them. I have to rearrange and give away constantly due to small space and a lot if us, especially now that Nikki is back home from school. He will be leaving to law school in the fall. Changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the noon meal was always dinner to me growing up. “The farmers need a big meal to keep going,” Mom used to say. Same for farm supply dealers like my dad who spent many hours out in the fields in the hot summer soon fixing equipment.

      Your children and grandchildren have a bright future ahead, thanks to your encouragement and sacrifice. It’s always great to hear from you, Gloria.


  6. Marian — And while I’ve never read Marie Kondo’s book, I certainly embrace what you’ve shared from it’s pages in this post. When it comes to “stuff,” I’m an enthusiastic believer of “less is more.” I enjoy having a few things, rather than being had by things.

    Example: I’m sitting at my loft-sized desk right now. The only items on its surface are my laptop and a tea light. For me that’s bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have followed your bliss a long time ago, Laurie. And to tell the truth, you could have co-authored this book with Marie, practicing the minimalist credo as you do.

      Right now we are surrounded by lots of STUFF, which should teach me a lesson about further indiscriminate accumulation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The theory is great; I’m not sure about the practice, though. I’m reminded of my garden, which I tried to plant in neat, symmetrical squares. Then disorder crept in–seedlings I planted got eaten, irresistible volunteers like tomatoes, dill, and mustard sprang up in random places, and my neat symmetry turned into vaguely defined chaos. Life is like that despite our best intentions… I’m glad you enjoyed the book, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Life is like a garden. Sometimes even the weeds sprout flowers, Rebecca. 🙂

    Yes, the book challenged me, Rebecca, but I reserve the right to adapt here and there as other readers probably do.


  9. Marian, you are really moving forward in this sifting and sorting thing! Brava and best of luck making a clean sweep. As I have said, I’m taking my lessons from you. Love the photo and vignette about your father. I, too , was blessed with a father whose spirit and lessons remain with me daily even though he died in 2010. I’m sure your parents will be your guiding lights as you transition into this next phase.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, my father died in June 1996 and my mother two years ago this July. Like you, my parents have influenced my work habits and my world view all to the good. I am indebted – and so grateful. Because of the logistics involved with buying and selling, what you see here looks much more “clean” than it actually is.

      I’ll bet you know that too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, Marian, you are really moving fast. l still haven’t read the book. It sits on my nightstand and I pick something else to read :-). The part that get me most is that you are supposed to lay out all of the clothes in the house out on the floor. If I did that you’d have to take me to the looney bin! But I continue to place two things every day in a giveaway bag or box. That works for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Joan, I pick and choose what I use from her array of dramatic measures. The thing I have enjoyed most is passing on items I no longer care about to friends overjoyed to get them – usually younger people in the hunter/gathering mode as I once was. Also, I feel lighter throwing out old teaching files though texts I taught from still give me pause.

    Placing two things daily into a giveaway container sounds sensible, Joan. Thanks for chiming in with a practical tip. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Excellent post, Marian. My favorite line–“Interestingly, her chapter titles yell in capital letters while her book title sits calmly on the cover, lower-case, in a cloud of blue”–caught me attention as well, and this shows, at least to me, the combination of strong emotion with careful approach.
    When I cleaned out the shoes my mother would never wear again, I thought so much of different things in Kondos’ book. Now, one room at a time, I’m trying to reorganize. ;0

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah, yes, I fondly remember reading your post “What a Woman’s Shoes Say About Her.” To me, shoes are an emotionally hot item because they take on the imprint of the wearer much more so than would a dress or a jacket.

    Best wishes in your room by room approach. I say, “Whatever works best!”


  14. The hardest thing for me is finding ways to help my husband declutter. He would be happiest taking everything out of the garage, building or retrofitting whatever devices he needs to help organize in the macro sense, and then putting things back. I’m fine with the mini approach of working through “small space by small space,” including placing unsortable stuff in containers until there is time to really organize it. Does KonMari deal with the “spouse differences” issue?

    I admired the way my sister and her husband finally got all of her husband’s tools and hardware organized after she retired (works one day a week). They spread oodles of small containers over the floor of their garage and painstakingly sorted things. He still works but has a massive wood working hobby.

    Truly, we (most of us in the U.S.) have too much. I remember having to work so hard to get ready for Mom and Dad’s sale before they moved to a retirement home with a small 2 bedroom apartment. Too much work. There’s got to be a better way. Thanks for letting me rant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your rant matches my feelings about Cliff’s “collection.” True, his business in our home has been a thrifty way to be an artist through the years. But you would not believe the accumulation in his office, upstairs in the studio and the garage. Still, he is cooperating with the stager to have everything look [visually] presentable for showings to prospective buyers. Your Stuart has a creative side too that “requires” making messes. In fact, I think he crafted something special for you displayed on Facebook last week. Yes?

      Actually, I don’t remember Ms. Kondo speaking to the point of spouses although she may have. (I’ve returned the book to our library.) You’d probably be better off not making comparisons to your sister and her husband. However, you and I could be commiserators. Ha!

      Yes, the memory of clearing out Mother’s house in 2014 is still fresh in my mind and probably one of the motivations for downsizing now. Thank you for your unfiltered response here. It’s just fine, Melodie.


  15. My daughter took this book to heart and learned things from Marie that she didn’t learn from her mama. 🙂 I consider myself moderately well organized and moderately uncluttered. I like the idea of wabi sabi.

    Best wishes as you do first things first. Your avid audience will hang with you!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks for alerting Kate to this review. I’m curious how far she took the KonMari prescription. I used to be more concerned about the tidiness of my house, but wabi sabi appeals to me now also, connoting as it does the serenity of age.

    I don’t know how long the blog fast will last. Generally, I find writing calming. We’ll see . . . .


  17. I could probably write my own expert book on moving and storage, lol. But I will say, I do find numerous uses for nice shoeboxes. It isn’t hard to get creative with them when you’ve had so many, lol. 🙂 Don’t forget to take some breathing breaks Marian. ❤


      1. Hope it was great Marian. I’m sure you will share with us. 🙂 Nice break!
        And perhaps in the future another book title. For now, I’ve got my hands and head full with this sequel I’m writing to my first book. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. My husband Colin , well he may just as well have a name, goes back to the Midlands for a couple of days in the week to work …that is when our house stays tidy . I’m not saying Col is any messier , or tidier than myself …it’s just together we’re messy do you know what I mean Marian …other than send your husband away every week I have 0 tips sorry 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must have heard me chuckle at the idea, Cherry. Years ago when my hubby traveled a lot in his work, there was less mess and fewer meals to make. I do know the feeling. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

      To his credit, now that he’s home more, he’s more helpful now, bless his heart! Older and wiser maybe . . . ?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to meet you, Lux, and thanks for leaving a comment here. I just poked around in your website and noticed that you are a pharmacist by profession but a writer at heart. Best wishes as you pursue your writing goals.

      And thanks again for visiting. I hope you enjoy the book. Marie suggests a radical approach to tidying up as you notice. 🙂


  19. No, no, no – laying all my books on the floor and selecting? I cannot even imagine this – the dust would fly – I think this is the thought my husband has when he contemplates tidying his study. There is some sort of order he says in his chaotic study though I cannot see it. Most likely he feels the same about mine. MAYBE he’ll get down to it this weekend, when it will be 3 years since we downsized. But there are zillions of shoe boxes ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sense your frustration with some humor buried – under the dust? with the books? If you read other comments, you understand that we are facing the same gargantuan task, only 37 years worth with a business in our home.

      Yes, I resist the idea of putting books on the floor. Her suggestion about doing the same thing with clothing sounds even more menacing though I do see the wisdom of getting all categories in more spot to take a measure of the amount needed to sort through.

      Thanks for speaking your mind, Susan. I believe you are cool in South Africa as we are very warm here in Florida and much of the nation.


  20. I was glad to see your smiling dad and his messy workspace. I hoped to be methodical in my cleaning madness. Not in the way of Marie Kondo because I need to do this while still gardening and writing and living. So an hour a day for summer. I began by emptying and cleaning a few closets and a bookcase because that gave cleared storage space for the new plan.

    When my brother died nearly two months ago, I felt it was time for me to invest positive energy in my nest. I wanted new comfortable queen-sized beds for friends and family (even if I won’t be here many years and they won’t use them often). I needed to invite people in. Out went the futon and other things that could be given away. I needed new rugs in the downstairs and a rug stretch in my upstairs bedroom to take out a lump. Everything happened quickly so every room in the house except bathrooms and kitchen ended up with unsorted piles in boxes. That’s where it stands now. There’s no going back. I drive myself nuts thinking of sorting for hours or days at a time. We both know I don’t need most of what’s in those boxes anyway. Bit by bit, it will be done.

    When is moving day?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An hour a day is admirable, Elaine. If I had done this a year ago we’d be ready to move now, almost.

      I feel all warm and fuzzy about your announcement of inviting people into your spacious nest. I gave a few big lummoxes in the living room to the Salvation Army and believe I’ve gained 50 % more floor space. One thing for sure, when you’ve living somewhere for long, possessions become invisible. We just walk around them without seeing their bulk.

      If all goes as planned, we’ll close on the new address on Friday. Then move bit by bit from this address to the other, 9 miles from here. The actual moving day is uncertain with the variables being the sale of this house and how soon we get things boxed up here. As you say, “There’s no going back.”

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for the great book review, Marian! I know it’s my time to order it and get busy … I just need a kick in the butt! I’ve gotten very good and buying next to nothing, but getting myself to focus on creating the minimalistic lifestyle I crave continues to escape me. I hope the book gets me going!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s sounds like you are already getting on the ball with the right attitude, away from the “hunter-gatherer” mind set toward less, much less.

      I find sorting through my things that much I own has become invisible, part of the landscape I walk around. No wonder I/we have ended up with so much stuff. The greatest surprise I’ve experienced, however, has been giving to others, sparking joy. Thanks for stopping by for a chat here, Dorothy. That sparks joy, too! 🙂


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