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Marie Kondo

Book talk

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Edited: Jan 10, 1:30pm Top

Need I say more?

In case I do: this woman has her own Netflix show, in which she helps people throw out junk they no longer need, to simplify their lives, using her Konmari method (there should probably be a trademark symbol attached to that). The basic test is, does it bring you joy? Do you need it in future? If it fails those tests, you throw it out. Watch as Marie helps these households scale back on all kinds of unneeded items and get their lives organized.

So far, so good. Helpful person, right? And then ...

Then she turned on books.

Oh yes she did. She went there.

Toss your books, people. Toss them. They're collecting dust. Never going to read that one again? Toss it out. Do it.

Ya, no. Not going to happen, Marie. Put the book down. Step away ... gently. Gently. That's it. Now start talking like a rational human being again.


Edited: Jan 10, 2:28pm Top

Do my books bring me joy? Yes, of course.

I do throw books away on occasion, but only because I need room to bring more home.

Jan 10, 2:03pm Top

Jan 10, 2:15pm Top

I admit it. I've thrown away books. Upon rare occasion, I'll purchase a book that I don't already have a copy of, or that otherwise might be tossed out (by the seller) or worse, destroyed because it has artwork that can be cut out and framed and sold by some soulless illiterate.

When I get it home, sometimes I find evidence of that worst enemy of old books, mold. If it's an item that was shipped to me, I carefully inspect all the other books in the shipment, and then (assuming only one fatality) wipe them down, and keep them separate from my other books for a few months (just in case). Then (delicate flowers might want to turn away here) I carefully rip the book in half at the spine, and put it in the trash.

(I admit, if the book is rare enough, to going to the bother of attempting to cure it. In the long run, though, it's best to be ruthless, and kill the infection at the source.)

I love my books...each and every one of them. If I don't love a book after I've read it, I donate it to the library (they have a section where gently used books are sold).

Jan 10, 3:00pm Top

Confession: I have too much joy.

Jan 10, 4:40pm Top

>5 2wonderY: My SO would tell me that our house could hold no more joy than it already does. He would be wrong, of course.

Jan 10, 5:05pm Top

Toss your books, people. Toss them. They're collecting dust. Never going to read that one again? Toss it out. Do it.

I see an irony in this. It includes all her books.

Jan 10, 5:14pm Top

Marie Kondo

Since she offers 30 day returns you can toss it AND get your money back.

Jan 10, 6:30pm Top

I read Marie Kondo's book a couple of years ago (borrowed it from the library so it wouldn't create more clutter and guilt in my house LOL) and found it very helpful in cleaning out my closet, papers, kitchen, and other parts of the house. I still use the "spark joy" concept when acquiring new things, and have cut my impulse spending quite a bit by being firm that if I don't love it and/or really need it, I don't buy it.

However, I completely skipped the books chapter. I do get comfort from being surrounded by books; they're not clutter to me. I have over 4000 of them. I have one room lined with them, and more in almost every room of the house.

There's no doubt that I need to get rid of some books, if only to make room for new ones, but I can't pile all the books in the house in one room and go through them in one go. It's just not reasonable. So I nibble away at it, re-reading one or two at a time and deciding if I love it enough to keep it. That works for me.

Jan 10, 7:00pm Top

Great column on her "get rid of your books" remark in the Washington Post

Jan 10, 7:19pm Top

I think there are many kinds of joy - the joy of something you made yourself or that has been in your family for a long time. The joy of something useful. The joy of something beautiful or that makes you smile. The joy of a tool that makes work easier. The joy of something that really ties a room together, man. The joy that a complete set brings. The joy of comfortable furniture. There are lots of kinds of joy. Making rules about joy is joyless.

Jan 10, 7:29pm Top

>10 lilithcat: Hurrah for Ron Charles!!!

" We’re not after sparks of joy — we want to swim in wonder."

Jan 11, 7:22am Top

"Streams of books converged into rivers that emptied into oceans of literature."

Jan 11, 7:51am Top

I totally agree with this statement:

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo advises deciding the fate of each book only by touch. “Make sure you don’t start reading it,” she says. “Reading clouds your judgment.”

But reading that sentence clarified my judgment of her.


Edited: Jan 11, 8:14am Top

>14 LisaMorr:, wow: that's like finding a murder weapon!

That and this:
“By tidying books, it will show you what kind of information is important to you at this moment.” That’s the problem with Kondo’s method. It presumes a kind of self-consciousness that no real lover of literature actually feels. We don’t keep books because we know “what kind of information is important to us at this moment.” We keep them because we don’t know.

Jan 11, 8:10am Top

>10 lilithcat:, reading that makes me want to aspire to be a Pulitzer judge, for this reason alone:
I was appointed a judge for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction .... And then the Pulitzer submissions began arriving — by the hundreds. Some days, my wife and I could barely drag the boxes off the front stoop into the house. Books started piling up in the kitchen. Under the table. On the table. On all horizontal surfaces. Stalagmites of books rose from the living room floor. Streams of books converged into rivers that emptied into oceans of literature.

Jan 11, 10:51am Top

I weed my books based on Marie Kondo's methods and I really love it. My shelf space is not unlimited so if I want to acquire more books I do have to get rid of some of them. I take all the books off of a shelf and then put them back on one at a time (after dusting the shelf). I like this because it reminds me of what books I already have and want to read/reread, and the tiny bit of effort it takes to put the book back on the shelf is occasionally enough for me to think "I don't really want to put this book back". I get rid of about 20-40 books a year this way, which is not less than I acquire but at least it's something.

Jan 11, 10:56am Top

>16 Cecrow: Yes, I had a similar reaction....

Jan 11, 11:51am Top

>14 LisaMorr:

That particular quote...I can actually see Marie Kondo's point, at least in part. If your goal in a period of time is to go through a stack of books and sort it into keep and donate piles, then stopping to read each book is going to cloud your judgement, and distract you from your goal. She isn't saying not to read, merely that reading the book at that time is not what you should be doing.

And while Marie Kondo and I have very different views on the purpose of books in a person's life (she is all about the information value, while I find that books are more likely to fall into the sentimental items category for me), I can see the value of going through one's library with a discerning eye, and letting go of those books that no longer "spark joy" (for whatever way you want to quantify that in your own life).

Jan 11, 12:12pm Top

>19 shadrach_anki:

I agree. Stopping to read books whose number you're trying to reduce is deadly to the goal.

I like Marie Kondo--I mean I like her, the person, at least what comes across in the media. I enjoyed reading her books while knowing full well I'd never in a million years follow her advice on anything (except folding undies--and my bra drawer is a beauty to behold now).

There's just something so cheery and soothing about her shtick. We start with a horrible mess, in a state of dismal consumerist sin, there's a heroic battle, full of doubts and setbacks, then light breaks slowly through dispersing clouds; in the end--nirvana!

But she isn't addressing herself to collectors of any kind, which is what most booklovers end up being by default.

Jan 11, 12:14pm Top

To concede as much as I can: I do let go of books, gradually. A portion of the shelf works like an outbox. I move something there, see how I feel about it, and if nothing changes (after an indefinite period), it leaves.

There's also something to the point about your library being a reflection of who you are, and who you are can change over time; so those books you were attached to as a teen that you've hung on to ... maybe you're not so proud of owning some of those, anymore. I managed to lose a few that way.

Jan 11, 12:50pm Top

If I'm going through a pile of cookbooks to decide which ones I can do without (to make space for new ones I can't do without), it can be quite useful to open it and remind myself why I had it to begin with. That may make it easier to get rid of, or may send me into the kitchen to bake an old favourite I had forgotten about. Either outcome is positive.

Jan 11, 2:48pm Top

>17 norabelle414: I've never read Kondo's book (or watched the show, for that matter) but I do something similar, for the same reason: I have to keep the books under control somehow, or I will be swimming in "oceans of literature!" (Loved that Washington Post article.) But my general reaction to this sort of advice is that non-readers, or the sort of people who read 1-2 books a year, mostly of the self-help variety (from the quotes I've heard/read, and her focus on extracting the "information" from a book, I am making the big assumption that Kondo is one of these), can't possibly understand.

Edited: Jan 11, 3:01pm Top

>23 foggidawn:, which is exactly why I came running to LT for empathy; what's nicer than being surrounded by people who understand? ;)

Jan 11, 3:28pm Top

>23 foggidawn: I am swimming in oceans of literature, and I will happily keep on swimming & drown in it! I will keep on acquiring books as long as I have the funds to do so, even if they wind up needing to be stacked in piles in the corner! XD

Jan 11, 4:15pm Top

>23 foggidawn: She talks a lot about holding an object and asking yourself if it brings you joy, which I think can be interpreted a lot of ways. For me I ask myself "do I really want to own this book, or am I just keeping it because I like books?" The vast majority of the time the answer is yes but occasionally it is no.

I certainly wouldn't want to own less than a few hundred books, but I feel like there is a point where I could have so many books that I don't properly appreciate them individually. I would be extremely lucky to eventually read all the unread books I have on my shelves now, let alone library books and books acquired in the future, so why not give the books I am less likely to read/reread to someone who wants to read them right now?

Jan 11, 4:43pm Top

I'm able to pull a book off the shelf, (re)read it, enjoy it, and give it away to someone who will also enjoy it. Actually without the reading I probably couldn't give it away. That can give me joy.

It sounds like her basic premise is the old one that William Morris (1) put this way:
Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Jan 12, 10:28am Top

“Make sure you don’t start reading it,” she says. “Reading clouds your judgment.”

Ain't that the truth? She obviously knows a reader's actions, but has no appreciation of its origin.

I've been actively weeding books, and been serious about it for a year. See the group Discarded that both MarthJeanne and I post to.

I discarded over 400 books last year; but you'd never guess it if you visited.
During the furlough, I'm trying to be diligent, with over 50 piled by the door so far this month. BUT, I've created more piles elsewhere of "Oh, I should go back and enjoy these again."

One of my formative books as a young adult was Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Last Trinity Church book sale I attended, I found a larger format, easier on my old eyes. So I thought to dispose of the ratty old paperback. Nope. We have too much history.

Jan 12, 10:49am Top

I'm only just now starting to run out of room for books on shelves, so I am starting to consider getting rid of probably a really small number of books. And I think I could go right to the ones that I did not enjoy and would never consider re-reading - and I guess that would be my Marie Kondo moment.

… and then my husband says we should build an addition so that I can have a proper library. How will I ever get any self-control?

Jan 12, 10:58am Top

>29 LisaMorr: Oh, lucky you!!

Jan 15, 1:40am Top

For people who claim to be avid readers, this is not a difficult concept to understand.

Reading literature whether it be happy tales or dark tordid affairs is the process that causes you joy, and thus the books provide you joy and thus you should keep those books. Kondo is just saying that you probably don't need that 40 page Tales around the Campfire book if you thought it was campy, or maybe you don't need The Illustrious Book of Knighthood, a book you never read but only kept because your mother-in-law gave it to you as a wedding present. And maybe you don't need that copy that fell in the bathtub while reading it so it's covered in mold and soap particles.

Seriously, this is not a difficult concept. At all.

Maybe we need a new book: "How not to overreact to simpleton ideas that are here to help you, not tell you what you HAVE to do". I hope it sparks joy upon reading.

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