The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Book Review

The Book

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. By Marie Kondo.


Marie Kondo’s job is to teach Tokyo residents how to de-clutter their homes. In this book, she shares her KonMari method with the masses. The book was first published in Japan in 2011 and has since been published in more than 30 countries.

Key Takeaway

Kondo’s method is a two step process of discarding and storing:

Discarding involves making a decision on whether or not to keep each and every object in your house. To determine if you want to keep an object, hold it in your hands. If it sparks joy, keep it. If not, get it out of your home. The discarding process should happen in a very specific order: Clothes first, then books, papers, odds and ends, and finally, things with sentimental value. For another take on de-cluttering, read “Win the War on Clutter the 5B way.”

Storing involves hiding away as much as possible. Bookshelves should be in closets; dish racks should never be left on counters; your purse should be emptied completely each and every night.

What You Need to Know

Much of the book makes a lot of sense. The rest is bonkers. Kondo believes in talking to our homes and objects and listening to what they say. When she arrives at a new client’s house, the first thing she does is kneel formally on the floor and introduces herself to the house, providing her name, address and occupation.

The good news is that the more bizarre of the book are pretty entertaining. Here’s one example. The emphasis is Kondo’s:

I visited the home of a client in her fifties. As always, we started with her clothes. … But when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. She had rolled back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle. I was speechless. … Let me state this here and now: Never, ever ball up your socks.

I pointed to the balled-up socks. “Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?”

Personal Impact

I tried Kondo’s method on my clothes and it was actually quite helpful! I got rid of several bags of clothes. In truth, I probably still kept too much because I wasn’t being ruthless enough on whether each object inspired joy. Our house has a lot of clutter and this book makes me want to deal with it once and for all.

Worth Reading?

Yes. This is a pretty quick read and it you’re ready to embrace de-cluttering, it will help you. Embrace what’s useful and chuckle at the rest.


  1. My wife love this book! It gave her justification and validation for the paradigm that she’s practiced for decades, but been scoffed at for. The organization, minimalistic, and simplicity aspects, I mean — the “bonkers” stuff she scoffs at, too! But even in those I have found not just a little “chuckle”, but also, with a little reading between the lines, a bit of psychological insight. I’ve often said that the old wives’ tales and folksy aphorisms always have a kernel of truth. They are simply passed down from previous generations in their epoch’s way of expressing the wisdom they’ve acquired in ways that don’t have the benefit of the increased knowledge and discovery that we enjoy today.

    • I agree that there’s some good psychological insight inside the book. For example, Kondo says our reluctance to get rid of something is tied to one of two things, either attachment to the past or fear of the future. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that sentiment.

  2. There is one more aspect which I personally believe.Giving away old things helps you let go and embrace new.Though I haven’t read the book but would like to give it a try.

  3. Had to laugh when you said “the rest is bonkers.” That was my reaction, too, Keith. There were a few good strategies and some useful advice for decluttering, but when she said she only owned five books, and saw no reason to have more, I knew Marie Kondo and I would never be friends. Still, it was an interesting book.

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