Book Review: Spark Joy

spark joyTitle: Spark Joy
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction; Self-Help
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Pages: 291
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Series (Companion)
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: January 21, 2020

Goodreads Description: Spark Joy is an in-depth, line illustrated, room-by-room guide to decluttering and organising your home. It covers every room in the house from bedrooms and kitchens to bathrooms and living rooms as well as a wide range of items in different categories, including clothes, photographs, paperwork, books, cutlery, cosmetics, shoes, bags, wallets and valuables. Charming line drawings explain how to properly organise drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and cabinets. The illustrations also show Ms Kondo’s unique folding method, clearly showing how to fold anything from shirts, trousers and jackets to skirts, socks and bras.

The secret to Marie Kondo’s unique and simple KonMari tidying method is to focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Ask yourself if something ‘sparks joy’ and suddenly it becomes so much easier to understand if you really need it in your home and your life. When you surround yourself with things you love you will find that your whole life begins to change.

Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, presents her unique tidying philosophy and introduces readers to the basics of her KonMari method. It has already transformed the homes and lives of millions of people around the world. Spark Joy is Marie Kondo’s in-depth tidying masterclass, focusing on the detail of how to declutter and organise your home.

My Review: Two years ago I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I think it was right at the beginning of the Marie Kondo movement. Since that time, many online debates have occurred regarding Marie Kondo’s methods of organizing and “tidying up”, and she has her own show that aired on Netflix.

While I am one of those people that did not agree with some of the statements made in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (especially regarding books and wall artwork), I cannot deny that Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of organizing has become a movement that speaks to many individuals, especially of my generation. My mom always said that I’m part of the “throw-away” generation. That statement always seemed negative to me, and I would always defend myself by saying that moments and experiences mean more to me than stuff. Marie Kondo has created this atmosphere of organizing that makes it so I do not have to justify not surrounding myself with a lot of stuff.

Spark Joy is a follow-up to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It provides the readers with more detailed instructions on how to actually accomplish some of her organizational techniques that she previously discussed.

She first discusses the psychology of organizing by explaining the difference between cleaning and tidying. “With cleaning we can let our minds empty, while our hands keep moving, but tidying requires us to think about what to discard, what to keep and where to put it.” She also states that, “tidying orders the mind while cleaning purifies it.” I 100% agree with these statements. When I am cleaning, I am on auto-pilot, doing my thing while listening to an audiobook. The task of tidying/organizing definitely takes more attention and concentration.

For those that do not know, the KonMari method contains these three main steps:

  1. Gather all items in that category in one place
  2. Choose only those items that spark joy
  3. Store by category

What I enjoyed about Spark Joy is the details she provided on how to accomplish the 3rd step. She gives very specific instructions on folding clothes and storing items in drawers. I especially got a lot out of the section where she discusses organizing stationery supplies, as those are items in my house that really tend to get messy and disorganized.

I still want to say that I do have hundreds of books on my shelves that I have not read, and that I fully intend on keeping at least until I have read them. That may not spark joy for Marie Kondo, but that sparks joy for me. There are also a lot of items in my house that do not spark joy for me, but I still keep them. I have a whole filing cabinet of paperwork related to my tax filings and other household documents that do not necessarily spark joy, but I still have to keep them. All that being said, I understand what Marie Kondo is trying to help people accomplish with her KonMari method. While I choose to interpret her method a bit differently (especially step 2), I still find a lot of value in the KonMari method and understand why this has become an organizing movement.

“Success depends 90% on your mindset.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: The Home Edit

homeeditTitle: The Home Edit
Author: Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Clarkson Potter Publishers
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Pages: 256
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: There’s decorating, and then there’s organizing. From the Instagram-sensation home experts (with a serious fan club that includes Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mindy Kaling), here is an accessible, room-by-room guide to establishing new order in your home.

Believe this: every single space in your house has the potential to function efficiently and look great. The mishmash of summer and winter clothes in the closet? Yep. Even the dreaded junk drawer? Consider it done. And the best news: it’s not hard to do–in fact, it’s a lot of fun.

From the home organizers who made their orderly eye candy themethod that everyone swears by comes Joanna and Clea’s signature approach to decluttering. The Home Edit walks you through paring down your belongings in every room, arranging them in a stunning and easy-to-find way (hello, labels!), and maintaining the system so you don’t need another do-over in six months. When you’re done, you’ll not only know exactly where to find things, but you’ll also love the way it looks.

A masterclass and look book in one, The Home Edit is filled with bright photographs and detailed tips, from placing plastic dishware in a drawer where little hands can reach to categorizing pantry items by color (there’s nothing like a little ROYGBIV to soothe the soul). Above all, it’s like having your best friends at your side to help you turn the chaos into calm.

My Review: The authors of The Home Edit have their own home organization business. They have a good collaboration, as one focuses on practical use and one focuses on aesthetically pleasing. Both ideas are difficult for me to grasp when I am organizing my house, so I was more than ready to hear some functional organizing tips that also look good.

They start off with the practical:

  1. Don’t keep things you are not going to use.
  2. Don’t buy more items than you have space for, so understand your space restrictions. If you are bringing things into the house, make sure you are taking things out of the house. (This bit of advice was particularly helpful to me. I tend to buy and stock up on household items when they are on sale and then have no idea where to put them when I get home.)
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at one time. Start with one drawer.
  4. Everything should have a place.

Then they go into the functional but also looks great part of organizing. This tends to be the part that most people enjoy. Not many people like to go through their belongs and toss things and then try to decide where to put the items they are keeping. However, labeling and shopping for storage containers, etc. seem to bring more joy to the task. Personally, I am not sure I like any part of organizing, but when your life is crazy busy, being organized and knowing where your belongings are should be one less thing you need to stress about.

Here are some ways to get started on this part of organizing:

  1. Once you know everything that you have, design a system that is functional and looks good.
  2. Invest in shoe box containers (not the cardboard ones your shoe purchases come in).
  3. Having see-through containers means that you don’t necessarily need to label.
  4. Invest in over-the-door hanging organizers.
  5. Get in the habit of putting everything in its designated place, but also be prepared that things may not stay perfect.

While this was an enjoyable read, I found the authors need to constantly name drop a bit of a turnoff. In the Introduction, the reader becomes aware that the authors have done organization projects for many celebrities. I think it is a negative toward their home organizing points by using their projects for celebrities as everyday examples, because the average reader of this book is looking at organizing stuff into a much smaller space and with a much smaller budget. I didn’t feel like this book catered that much to someone on a tight budget. I went into the Container Store once, so I could get some organizing supplies and was totally shocked by how expensive many of the containers and organizers were. I am looking for much more affordable options, and didn’t feel that they really helped me understand where to get things that were affordable. However, I am aware that I listened to this audiobook through my library and apparently there is a downloadable pdf that is normally included with this audiobook that I did not receive.

I would normally have given this book more like a 3 out of 5 stars. However, while I found that much of the book wasn’t as helpful as I would have liked, the authors were humorous and personable and made this book a much more enjoyable read than most home organizing books tend to be, so it has earned my 4 out of 5 stars. The following passage really made me laugh hard:

“Top 5 ways to keep your entry looking picture-perfect at all times:

  1. Live alone.
  2. Make sure your kids use a separate entrance. 
  3. Don’t own things.
  4. Change your mailing address to your neighbors and pick up your mail once a week.
  5. Start going places without shoes or jackets, so there is nothing to take off when you walk in the door.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦