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The Life-Changing Magic of Throwing Out Your Books?


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There is being tidy, and then there is Marie Kondo.        

Following the success of her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (not to be confused with Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k), Kondo has recently released her very own Netflix show to help people sort through the clutter in their lives and their homes.

The KonMari method has one desired outcome: to bring you joy. It involves sorting through your belongings and discarding anything that doesn’t provide you with this elation. In simple terms, if it doesn’t spark joy, you don’t need it. But, to the dismay of many book lovers online, this also seems to relate to literature.

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

On her show, Kondo can be seen helping to get rid of a generous amount of literature from one pair's home, asking if they are something that they really need. For many people, myself included, this act would spark anything but joy. She suggests that you should have no more than 30 books in your home, and any more than this is just excess clutter.

As you can imagine, this sparked a less than joyful discussion online.


In my opinion, some people were a little rash in their instant hate for Kondo’s stance on how many books you keep on your home. She isn’t asking you to throw out all your books. She doesn’t totally dismiss the joy of owning books and buying new ones. She has written her own book after all – of course she still wants you to buy it. Her KonMari method existed before the Netflix show was produced, but it is only now that the phenomenon has become more widespread that it is really causing a fuss. We also have to remember that this is just what works for her and she isn't trying to tell us that absolutely everyone will get joy from doing this. Some people might, of course, and that's great. What I think she is really getting at is that she thinks you shouldn’t keep them if they don’t make you completely and utterly happy. 

But, this is where my level of agreement with her opinion comes to a standstill. I own a lot more than 30 books. I own more than ten times that number, between my bedroom at home and the one in my student flat. The thing is that when I ask myself Kondo’s optimal question, “does it spark joy?”, the answer is yes. They all bring me joy! The ones I have read over and over, with the spine cracked and the pages dog-eared (the horror, I know), and also the ones that I can’t even remember a single thing about the blurb never mind opened it to the very first page yet. Even the ones that weren't my favourite still don't disappear off the shelf because I love my collection of books just as much as I love actually reading them. 

That said, while I definitely don’t agree that you should limit your books to only 30 at any one given time if you don't want to, I think her method can be applied to other areas of your home life. How many times have you looked in your wardrobe and totally skipped over the items that still have the tags still attached, or you can’t even remember the last time you had it on, only to go straight for your favourite items on rotation? What is the point in keeping these things? They don’t spark joy, but they might spark joy for other people. This also goes for all the random things that you keep for years even though you know you don't need them or will ever look at again, like old school jotters, empty foundations and mascaras and pens that ran out of ink a long time ago. These are the things that you can throw it without it being a painful experience like the thought of departing with your beloved possessions.

And remember, the more real clutter you get rid of, the more books you can fit in.

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