HM Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (with a mini rant)

Previously, I mentioned that I am decluttering and organizing things around our place. Before I did any significant decluttering, I first read this book. I read this like I would a textbook, to the extent that I jotted down notes. I just felt that reading this would give me a sense of direction and some pointers in how I can go about my decluttering and organizing, because I really didn’t know where and how to start. Being a book person, of course I went to a book for some guidance and motivation.

Copy of the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo
See those flags? I wasn’t taking this book lightly hahaha

I bought this book years ago at the Manila International Book Fair. I remember it was one of the last books I grabbed while we were in line to pay at the cashier, and it was definitely somewhat of an impulse buy, which I might not have done without the encouragement of the 20% discount at that time. Then, the hype was still about Marie Kondo’s book, as she did not have her Netflix series yet. I read the book, and stopped at the point where she talked about books. I just couldn’t get past that. I wasn’t angry at her, but I just couldn’t make it past that point. So I stopped reading. I know I didn’t have to follow or even believe everything she does, but sometimes there are things you don’t want to see or read. I told myself I’d probably get to finish it at some point in the future, and I’d be more ready then. True enough, here we are.

It wasn’t her Netflix show that pushed me to finally get back to the book. Well, it may have reminded me that I had the book. Honestly, it was the mess that is supposed to be my things and the mess in my life and head that became the impetus for me to read this. When faced with clutter, it becomes overwhelming and I felt that having a process to at least approximate would be so helpful, especially if there are also storage and organizational tips that I can use.

Enough stalling, how did I find this book? Pretty amazing. I love Marie Kondo’s passion for tidying, even though such a passion might sound silly to some (a lot). Her book, while I didn’t follow her method to the letter, gave me the sense of direction I needed. She also comes off as someone who really believes anyone can do it, that there are things we just need to accept, and some of the things she mentions are quite relatable. A lot of things she mentioned was encouraging to me, as I really felt overwhelmed and helpless. I did not fully follow method, and I don’t necessarily agree with everything she said, but I can see where she comes from and I do appreciate her point of view. And she did drop some uncomfortable truths that ended up being really helpful to me and my state of mind.

I guess this is where my mini rant comes in. I know I probably shouldn’t have done it, and I knew then it was probably not going to be a pretty sight, but I checked some reviews on the book over at Goodreads. It just made me sad, and mad, to be honest. I understand that Marie’s method is very jarring, and it can sound ridiculous, and even she knows and mentions that, but she does explain her reasons for her beliefs and her method and habits. It’s just a bit upsetting and annoying to see reviews that completely ignore that and act as if: one, Marie pulled her method out of thin air, and two, she is forcing her method down everyone’s throats. To give the book a negative review, or to say that you don’t believe in her method is one thing, but to go over the line and straight up mock a person was just really something that I should, and did expect, but still was upset to see. Worse, people laughingly and carelessly assigned mental health illnesses to her for coming up with and sharing her ideas. I guess that’s what upsets me the most, because that is unfair not only to her but also to people who actually have those mental health issues. They casually throw around “OCD” (obsessive compulsive disorder) just because she is, from her own words, obsessed with tidying and organizing. I do not know whether or not she has that condition. Maybe she does. Even Marie herself says that her obsession with tidying is not that normal or average. But to equate OCD with extreme tidying can be insulting to people who do have OCD, because I’ve seen some stories from people who have it and it isn’t that simple. I just really can’t with the people who carelessly, mockingly, and laughingly call her crazy in a review of her book and her method.

As I mentioned, I don’t believe in all the points Marie is making in her book, so it’s not like I’m a fan who is just taking everything she is saying on its face and as gospel truth. For example, Marie says to remove items from your possession because if you need them, you can just buy them later on. That will not work for me. I get, however, that Marie is raised in Japan and probably has a lot of items that are easily accessible to her. In that case, it does make sense to just declutter some extra items for now and just buy them later. However, in my case, some items are not that accessible, and if they are, not everyone has the purchasing capability to do so. To me, it will be financially unwise to do this, because of my situation in life and because things that are cheap in Japan are pricier in the Philippines. I have found myself in a situation where I was thankful I stashed something because I was able to use it a time when I simply cannot afford to buy such item. And so on this point, I just note that I disagree with her and cannot commit to that idea.

But do I think she has a mental health issue because she thought that way? No, I just recognize that we have differences in our situations in life and that results in a different way of thinking. Because that’s how life is, and how people are.

I also think that this annoyed me because there really are tones of racism and just ignorance and dismissal of other cultures that are evident in those reviews I saw. Some mocked her for her rituals like in greeting her home, etc. as if she did not explain that those stem in part from the time she spent as a shrine maiden (hello yes, they have that in Japan, because it has a different culture and can have things that other places or cultures do not have or understand fully). She even says you don’t have to do all those ‘rituals’ in the exact same way, and just sets out the main point she wants her reader to achieve or do. But no, we will apparently forget all of the context and disclaimer and explanation that Marie shares and will focus on the strange and judge her whole entire being from that.

Whew, I really needed to get that off my chest (and head, coz these thoughts keep circulating in my mind). To sum up, I loved the book, it helped me do my declutter and organization, and I upset myself by reading unkind reviews hahaha. I would like to emphasize that Marie’s method is a bit extreme, and you don’t have to follow it in its entirety. But if you do deviate from her method, you also cannot say that her method doesn’t work because she does say that she believes for her method to work it has to be followed to its letter. Having deviated from her exact method, I don’t expect to have the same results. But I did have some positive results, and that’s all I wanted, really.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Have you read Marie’s book or watched her Netflix series? What do you think of her method?

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