Do you have cupboards that overflow and piles of papers in your closets? You don’t dare give them away, or worse, throw away all those souvenirs and objects that continue to pile up in your home? … It’s high time you got to know Marie Kondo’s books! You may have already heard about them: Marie Kondo‘s books are a phenomenal and huge success all over the world! Marie Kondo is an expert in storage and personal development and is best known for her famous storage method, the KonMari method.
So, if you feel the need to sort through your life but don’t know where to start, the books of Marie Kondo will be the perfect tool to help guide you efficiently through this process to de-clutter your home. If not, this article might just motivate you to get started. It may lead you to discover, in the summary of the two books which made Marie Kondo famous, that if you tidy up it can completely transform your life!
Marie Kondo, the Japanese star of the tidying up business
The phenomenal success of the KonMari method
Marie Kondo is Japanese. Born in 1985 in Tokyo, this storage and personal development consultant has been passionate about tidy and organized spaces since her childhood. At the age of 15, her favorite hobby was to organize her belongings and tidy up her room, as well as those of her siblings.
In her second year of sociology at the University of Tokyo, the young Marie, who was only 19 years old, quit her studies to turn her passion into her principal activity. She created her own company and became a storage consultant.
The young entrepreneur quickly made a name for herself with her innovative storage method, the KonMari method, which combined practical advice with personal development. Indeed, Tomohiro Takahashi, a publisher from the Japanese publishing house Sunmark was particularly interested in this method and published Marie Kondo’s book which explained what this famous KonMari method consisted of.
The book, entitled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, was a great success and made her famous to the general public, not only in Japan but everywhere else too. Marie Kondo’s books are best-sellers that sell tens of millions of copies worldwide and she has become a high-profile media personality. Her lectures and conferences are also internationally acclaimed.
Four things to know about Marie Kondo
- In her private life, Marie Kondo has been married to Takumi Kawahara since 2012. Her husband left his job as a sales assistant to co-found his wife’s company. He is now president of KonMari Media, Inc. The couple have two daughters.
- Marie Kondo is 1.40 metres tall: short in size but a real heavyweight in business. Marie Kondo has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015 by the American magazine Time Magazine.
- Since 2019, Marie Kondo has starred in a reality show on Netflix. In this series of eight 45 minute episodes, called “Tidying Up”, Marie Kondo visits the homes of American families and gives advice on how to tidy up and optimize the space they live in to the best of their ability. From the moment it was launched, the series created a real buzz.
- Famous in Japan and the United States, Marie Kondo brings together a community of millions of fans on Instagram. On social networks, the young storage expert offers “tutos” and in 2017 released a free app to share her organizational secrets.
A method to tidy up that combines the “art of tidying up” with “personal development”
Beyond a simple method of storage, the concept explained in Marie Kondo’s books is, in reality, to transform one’s life through storage. In the words of the tidying up coach, who swears by her mantra – “Life only really begins when you put your house in order” – the KonMari method can help to eliminate clutter from your home forever and, more importantly, significantly improve your life.
The practical side of the KonMari method is based on two procedures: to sort and then to tidy
If there were only a few words to remember about the process to sort out your possessions that are proposed by Marie Kondo, it would be: “Keep only those things that make you happy”. The main idea of the KonMari method is, in fact, to sort out our possessions in order to keep only those things that really bring us joy. Everything else we throw away or give away. To do this, one of the basic principles is to sort by category and by room, collect and lay out objects on the floor that belong to the same category.
Another rule that the KonMari method states you need to strictly adhere to is: sort in a precise order, namely clothes, books, administrative documents, komono (miscellaneous objects) which includes objects from the kitchen, bathroom, then the garage, and finally sentimental objects.
What has also made the KonMari method very popular are its rules to fold garments, especially the famous rectangular folds.
Furthermore, says Marie Kondo, the most important thing when it comes to storage is to know how to define a place for each object – a place that will make the object obvious – and always put them back in that specifically chosen place.
The personal development aspect is based on the mental peace of mind that you derive when you sort and tidy things up
For Marie Kondo, if you put your house in order you also put your life in order. The KonMari method aims to free your mind, simplify your life, teach you how to live with less.
The books of Marie Kondo encourage a genuine process of personal development which involves:
- Gratitude, and the respect given to these objects, and thank them;
- Work on the emotion and the attachment that you feel for the objects;
- An awareness of what brings us joy, makes us happy;
- A return to basics.
The books of Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo has published three books, all based on her storage method, the KonMari method:
- Her first book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up” was published in 2011 (original title: “Jinsei Ga Tokimeku Katazuke No Maho“): this best-selling book has sold millions of copies in 35 languages, in more than 40 countries, and has been critically acclaimed. It’s the Japanese book that was a real success story.
- “Spark Joy – The Illustrated Guide to the Kondo Method” was published in 2016: this book is very similar to the first one, but with more details and lots more illustrations, especially in the section entitled “the encyclopedia of tidying up”.
- It’s a comic book adaptation of her best-selling book “The Iluustrated Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. In this comic book, Chiaki’s character, who has a chaotic relationship, lives in a completely disorganized apartment and no prospects for the future, offers a fun way to discover the Kondo method.
The Essentials of the KonMari Method | Summaries of Marie Kondo’s two main books
Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“
“The Life-Time Magic of Tidying Up“ is THE landmark book of Marie Kondo. It is the book that reveals her method of how to tidy up to the general public – the KonMari method or Kondo method – and has made her famous all over the world.
In this book, Marie Kondo teaches us how to tidy up in order to improve our daily lives and make a radical change in them too. The idea is not to sort through your belongings only once a year, as this would just lead to clutter and the accumulation of things, but rather to adopt a new discipline of life that tends towards aesthetic harmony, peace and inspiration.
Marie Kondo believes that if you live in an ordered space it also has a positive influence on all the other aspects of your life: when you are able to see your surroundings more clearly, you change your outlook on life.
Four things Marie Kondo teaches us in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”
1. How to avoid relapse and keep our house tidy forever
For Marie Kondo, tidiness is not a natural skill. We should learn it from childhood; however, generally, this doesn’t happen.
In “The life-changing magic of tidying up”, the young coach explains why we can’t keep our house tidy and gives several practical tips to avoid what she calls the “rebound effect” or “yo-yo”. Among them, we find two fundamental rules of the KonMari method, which are:
- Tidy up everything in the house in one fell swoop, finally, once and for all. Marie Kondo believes that there are actually two types of storage: the “daily”, which requires you to put things back in their place every day, and the “special”, which is referred to here and which will only be carried out once (or very rarely).
- Sort by categories, not rooms.
2. How to chuck out everything in one go
Marie Kondo invites us to visualize, in every detail, the lifestyle we would like to adopt. The idea is to picture our dream life interior and then ask ourselves why we want it. This first step helps us to know what we are sure to keep and what we don’t want to keep, and why. When you chuck it out it will make it seem easier.
In the next step Marie Kondo describes how to choose what to throw away or keep. Here we are at the heart of the KonMari method. The process is always the same: we hold the object in our hands for a moment and work out if it makes us happy.
3. How to sort by categories
To make it easier to sort and tidy up things, you have to proceed category by category, in a specific order: clothes, books, administrative documents, various objects called “komono”, then finish with the objects that hold high sentimental value.
Marie Kondo develops an extensive range of practical tips to store objects in each of these categories. She also offers tips to apply to items that are more difficult to store and that you don’t know what to do with (for example: items that you keep “just in case”, gifts, photos of deceased people, souvenirs…).
For Marie Kondo, the selection procedure for objects is very personal. That’s why it’s up to each person to create their own storage method in accordance with their own criteria. In order to achieve this, you need to know how you feel about your possessions and use your intuition.
How to tidy up to live your life with enthusiasm
Here, the author elaborates on, in detail, various principles, some of which have become fundamental to the KonMari method, such as:
- Make sure that everything has its place;
- Chuck first and tidy second;
- Seek the simplest solution possible;
- Centralize storage space;
- Choose vertical storage and do not pile things up;
- Leave the bathtub and kitchen sink clear;
- Improve the look of your interior with your favorite objects;
- Be grateful for what your belongings provide you with and express your gratitude to them.
Why Marie Kondo believes that the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” will dramatically transform your life
In “The life-changing magic of tidying up”, Marie Kondo explains why if you tidy up your home it makes you more aware of what you love and provides more excitement in your daily life. To illustrate this idea, the tidying up coach recounts various stories of her clients who have either started their own business, changed jobs or have found their true calling in life.
In her experience, if you tidy up your possessions it has a magical effect that dramatically transforms your life because it:
- Strengthens your confidence in your ability to make decisions and, therefore, your self-confidence.
- Teaches you to free yourself from your past and reduce your anxiety about the future.
- Teaches you how to do “without”.
- Allows you to understand the energy of objects, their usefulness and the physical influence of your home.
- Helps you to identify what you truly value and what makes you happy.
- Encourages a more natural life.
- Directs you towards the goal within your heart.
Review of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up”
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” features an innovative approach to storage, which is probably why so many readers have bought it.
Indeed, the KonMari method reviewed here stands out in its genre because storage is described as a simple and meticulous art that can transform lives in unprecedented ways. The author convinces us that if we learn a new way to approach life, which won’t necessarily require you to sort out and tidy up possessions, it is a powerful tool for personal development. And finally, isn’t that what we look for when we embark on the task to de-clutter a house: a change of life, a renaissance, or at least a reduction in the number of our possessions?
On the other hand, the author’s style, always thoughtful, non-judgmental and very clear, is in line with the overall approach proposed.
This book is, therefore, perfect for all those who love the idea of minimalism and are in search of simplicity. But not only that: the content is also a strong source of motivation that gives you a sudden impulse to sort out your life!
- Its a smooth, light and enjoyable read;
- The positive changes generated by the suggested method are persuasive;
- The content is made to come alive through short, funny and inspirational stories.
- The suggestions given, especially for the “clothing” section, do not have enough illustrations.
My rating :
“Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo
“Spark Joy” really isn’t very different from Marie Kondo’s first book “The life-changing magic of tidying up“. This book also deals with the concepts of her method to tidy up, the KonMari method, which requires you to surround yourself only with objects that make you happy and which, as a result, transform your home into a place that creates joy.
So there will be a lot of duplication if you have already read Marie Kondo’s first book, but there are more illustrations, daily applications and small details.
A reminder of the basic rules of the KonMari method
Marie Kondo reminds us of the main ideas of her KonMari method to recreate a home that inspires joy:
- To take care of your possessions is to take care of yourself!
- The most important thing when you tidy up is not so much what to throw away, but rather what to keep: to do this, the most important thing is to retain the things that give you joy and to chuck the rest out.
- You need to decide where to store every item we keep and to put it back in its place each time you use it.
- The process involved to tidy up is not simply to de-clutter your home, but also to de-clutter your mind.
Marie Kondo also reminds you of the six basic rules of the Kondo method, which can be summarized as follows:
- Visualize your ideal lifestyle;
- Chuck first;
- Sort by category, not by location;
- Follow the correct order of categories for the possessions to be sorted;
- Ask yourself, for each item, does it bring happiness.
The practical guide to the application of the KonMari method
Marie Kondo teaches you how:
- Sharpen your sensitivity to joy: the author teaches you how, when you sort possessions out, to identify the objects that bring you joy.
- Fill your living space with joy: every step of the organizational process and enjoyment of your space is developed.
- Visualize what you consider to be your ideal lifestyle.
- Reduce the number of possessions: especially in regard to tips on how to deal with objects that you are not sure whether you should keep.
- Brighten up your living space: with decorative ideas.
- Optimize the objects you own: use them in different ways, for example, make use of seldom used objects.
- Create your own energy source, a space of your own.
- Sort things out and tidy things up in a joyful and positive way.
Four KonMari method storage principles to keep in mind
- Fold: everything that is soft and pliable should be folded to reduce volume in order to optimize the amount that can be stored.
- Stand upright: anything that can rest on its edge and not tip over should be stored vertically in a drawer, rather than flat; this maximises the height of its storage space, and is also the easiest way to see at a glance what it contains and where it is located.
- Store with others.
- Separate your storage space into square compartments.
These principles apply to the storage of clothing, as well as to all other categories.
If you live as a family, the plan is to start to sort person by person, then by category and finally by material.
What is the famous KonMari method of how to fold?
Marie Kondo is known for her method of how to fold into rectangles. In “Spark Joy“, she explains, with drawn illustrations, all the details of this basic method for each garment, from the simplest to the most “difficult” shapes or materials. In general, you have to fold your clothes:
- Like origami until they become very small and develop a certain rigidity (to store them vertically).
- The aim is always to have a rectangle (fold the side edges towards the central line of the garment).
“The Encyclopedia of Tidiness“
In the second part of “Spark Joy”, Marie Kondo offers what she calls an “encyclopaedia of tidiness”, which combines a multitude of rules, tips and tricks related to how to fold and tidy each category of your possessions to be sorted and put away.
Each time, the process is more or less the same: you gather the objects of the same category scattered all over the house and stack them in the same place and start to sort them out. Then the “joy evaluation process” begins, which requires you to take each object in your hand. Marie Kondo develops, in great detail and with lots of illustrations, how this process should be carried out for each category of possessions that you nedd to be sorted out and stored:
- Clothes: the author gives here a multitude of tips for folding, hanging, storing, and even packing.
- Books: Marie Kondo gives us tips to choose effectively those we want to keep.
- Papers: the author believes that only a few documents should be kept; the vast majority should be thrown away.
- The komono (miscellaneous objects): this category includes a multitude of sub-categories with numerous rules to follow, described in detail by the author.
- Objects with sentimental value: the Kondo method guides us in the attitude to adopt towards these often very problematic objects (souvenirs, our children’s creations, letters, photos, etc.).
The magic that will transform your life
In the last part of her book, Marie Kondo teaches you how, if you tidy up, it can transform your life. To do this, the storage and personal development expert makes recommendations for you to create a living space that inspires joy: she outlines the rules to follow for every room in the house.
Marie Kondo also develops the changes you can hope to experience if you follow her KonMari method. It should allow you to achieve this:
- Build confidence;
- Be more positive and confident about your future;
- Get your love life back in order;
- Take stock of your relationships with others;
- Enjoy daily life, feel truly happy, understand what brings joy to your life.
Review of “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo
Though very pragmatic and even lightweight at times, Marie Kondo’s book is, however, a process that could genuinely transform your life. You understand, as you read it, that in addition to a whole host of very useful advice, which helps us sift through and make the difficult choice to part with certain objects, the KonMari method is, above all, an opportunity to find happiness and serenity in life.
So, this book is extremely comprehensive because it gives you:
- Very practical advice to optimize your time, your space, your house and to organize yourself more efficiently.
- An invitation to go back to basics, to redefine your priorities in life and to define what brings you true happiness in order to achieve a real transformation.
- The wealth of practical, illustrated advice, based on extensive coaching experience of the author and which is easy to implement at home.
- The motivational side: the book makes you want to reduce the amount of possessions you have, get rid of the clutter and start to sort things out.
- The many real-life examples and ideas that show that the author’s concept is also often a source of rejuvenation or a source of life transformation.
- At times, some of the advice is really basic and leads to the self-development approach proposed by the author to lose some of its depth.
- Some repetition over the course of the chapters.
My rating :
Quotes from Marie Kondo’s books
On the change in life
“The question of what you want to own is really the question of how you want to live your life.”
- “The most important change that will happen when you tidy up is that you will learn to love each other.”
- “To tidy goes far beyond determining what stays in the house and what goes in the trash. Rather, it’s a great opportunity to learn how to re-evaluate and change your relationship with your possessions for the better, and a good way to create a lifestyle that will bring you happiness. … Tidying up allows us to refine our sensitivity to what gives us joy, and it helps us to know ourselves better. This is the ultimate goal of tidying up.”
- “A dramatic reorganization of the home brings about dramatic changes in lifestyle and outlook. It is life-transforming.”
- “Once you start cleaning up, you’ll be forced to reset your life.”
- “When you tidy, you gain a little confidence. You start to believe in the future. Things start to go more smoothly. The people you meet change. Unexpected things happen in a positive way. Change starts to accelerate and you start to really enjoy your life.”
- “To put your house in order…allows you to confront the issues that are really important. To tidy up is just a tool, not the final destination. The real goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
To let go of the past and live in the present…
- “To tidy up things of sentimental value is like putting your past in order.”
- “Our possessions are a part of ourselves, and when they eventually disappear, they leave behind eternal memories.”
- “To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too.”
- “But when we really delve into the reasons why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
- “No matter how wonderful used to be, we can’t live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now is more important.”
- “It’s not our memories, but the person we’ve become because of those past experiences that we should cherish. It is the lesson these memories teach us when we sort them out.”
- “The process of facing and selecting possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we have made in the past.”
- “When I took each of these objects in turn, I realized that I had lived these moments to the fullest and that I could thank my memories for the pleasure they had given me at the time. When I threw these objects away, I felt like I was facing my past for the first time.”
To bring joy back into your home and your life…
- “If you’re constantly feeling anxious without really knowing why, try to put your affairs in order. Take every object you have in your hands and ask yourself if it makes you feel happy. Then cherish those you choose to keep, just as you cherish yourself. That way, every day of your life will be filled with joy.”
- “A space just for you overflowing with joy is like a hand warmer in your pocket on a cold day.”
- “Now, imagine living in a space that contains only things that bring joy. Isn’t that the lifestyle you dream of?”
- “I am convinced that objects that have been loved and cherished acquire elegance and character. When one surrounds oneself only with things that bring joy and floods them with love, one can transform one’s home into a space filled with precious objects, as if it were one’s own personal art museum.”
- “Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy. If you discard everything until you have nothing left but an empty interior, I don’t think you’ll be happy living there. Our goal in tidying should be to create a living environment filled with things that we love.”
In terms of the “minimalist” trend
- “The real problem is that we have far too much for what we need and want.”
- “When we reduce what we own…, we “detoxify” our home, and it also has a detoxification effect on our body.”
- “You may think it’s a waste of money, but reducing your inventory and lightening the burden of excess is the quickest and most efficient way to get your affairs in order.”
- “For the people who stockpile, I don’t think any minimum quantity can reassure them.”
- “The act of tidying up is only a tool, not the final destination. The real goal must be to determine the lifestyle you want once your house is in order.”
- “But it’s human nature to resist throwing something away even when we know we should.”
- “It’s easy to get rid of things when there’s an obvious reason to do so. It’s much harder when there’s no compelling reason.”
- “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful.”
- “What you wish to possess expresses the question of the lifestyle you seek. Attachment to the past and fear of the future not only govern your choice of property but also represent the criteria taken into account when you make decisions in all areas, including your relationships with others and your profession.”
When you de-clutter and sort things out
- ” My basic approach for sorting papers is to throw them all away.”
- “When you throw something away, it doesn’t mean you’re drawing a line under past experiences or your identity.”
- “The process of selecting objects that bring you joy allows you to identify exactly what you like and what you need.”
- “Never forget that you’re not sorting to throw away but to keep what you really care about.”
- “Our affairs illustrate with great accuracy the history of the decisions we’ve made in our lives.”
- “Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them.”
- “I recommend that you approach your sentimental valuables as soon as possible after the age of twenty-five, so that you can put your life in order and fill your days with joy.”
- “The true purpose of a present is to be received, because gifts are a means of conveying someone’s feelings for you. When viewed from this perspective, there is no need to feel guilty about parting with a gift.”
On the storage process
- “Tidying up should essentially be about restoring the balance between human beings, their possessions and the home in which they live.”
- “To tidy is a way to take stock of what we really love.”
- “The important thing when tidying up is not so much what to throw away, but what to keep.”
- “I spent all my vacation tidying up… Then, not long ago, I finally came to the end. …I had the feeling of being reborn. Everywhere I look, all I see are things that make me happy. I feel tenderness for everything that is part of my life and, quite simply, such gratitude!”
- “In short, the secret to success is to tidy up at once, completely and as quickly as possible, and to start with throwing out.”
- “Your storage space is your personal paradise.”
- “To tidy is naturally contagious, but if you try to force someone to do it, you’ll only meet fierce resistance. Remember Aesop’s fable about the north wind and the sun: the wind never succeeded in making the traveller take off his coat, despite all the force of his breath, whereas the sun, through its rays, simply made him strip it off. It will be far more effective to draw inspiration from the sun.”
- “When a room is messy, the cause is not simply physical. The visible clutter takes us away from the true source of the disorder. Making a mess is really an instinctive reflex that distracts our attention from the heart of the problem.”
- “It’s perfectly normal for you to feel incapable. To tidy up is not an innate gift. You have to learn it first.”
In relation to gratitude and our state of mind
- “To acknowledge their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life in order.”
- “Success is 90% dependent on your mind-set.”
- “To assess how you feel about your possessions, identify those who have achieved their goal, express your gratitude and bid them farewell, it’s really a matter of examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
- “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
- “Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”
- “Our relationship to others is reflected in our relationship to possessions, and likewise, our relationship to objects is reflected in our relationship to others.”
- “There’s a saying that a messy room reflects a mind in the same state. …if you can’t manage to feel relaxed in a clean, tidy room, try to face your feelings of anxiety.”
- “The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it and thank our clothes for protecting our bodies.”