The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has given rise to much merriment online, most centered around the essential question she thinks we should ask of our belongings: “Does this give me joy?”. (If not, we are to banish them immediately.) But I’m not sure the question is either revolutionary or ridiculous. After all, most organizing gurus would recommend asking ourselves whether we love something, a very close concept, I think, especially post-translation from the Japanese.
What may be revolutionary is her approach. For instance, she advises organizing by categories (such as clothes or books) and not by area (the master closet), which makes a lot of sense to me. And the subtitle to her section on sorting paper is “Rule of thumb — discard everything”! Music to my ears.
What made the book most charming to me were the cultural references. The sizes of apartments given in tatami mats. The author’s initial attempt to create systems based on blood types… And sometimes cultural differences get in the way. Storing all one’s possessions in one spot may work well in a seven-tatami mat apartment, but in a sprawling house I like my jacket near the door, thank you very much.
The book is full of cute references. For instance, the author recommends against horizontal piles (I wholeheartedly agrees) and justifies it by the plight of those items at the bottom of the pile: they will feel overburdened by the ones on top! This is from someone who believes that folding is a dialog with one’s wardrobe and that items of clothing will tell us how they want to be folded.
You will love this book, even if, like me, you never fold anything beyond napkins. I think they are telling me they like to be folded in thirds.