Book Chat February 2016 & Spark Joy

book chat

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Spark Joy

As I mentioned last month, I’m now reviewing books as I read them rather than dumping all the reviews here on you faithful readers once each month. Today, I’m reviewing Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.

This book is a sequel to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by the same author. I’d been reading a lot about these books online. The “hoarding” shows on various TV channels also tie in to this current interest in organizing/decluttering.

Marie Kondo capitalizes on this trend by coming up with her own method of “tidying.” I enjoyed the book overall; after reading it for a while, you definitely come away feeling that you’d like to organize a drawer (or more!). She has good ideas on why we don’t need all the “stuff” most of us have, and she has sensible thoughts on how to part with things, and why we should. We spend much of our lives cleaning and maintaining all our possessions. Is this really the way we want to use our time?

Some parts of the book were really humorous to me. Kondo’s big thing is to determine whether each item you own “sparks joy.” How to determine this? “Hold it firmly in both hands as if communing with it. Pay close attention to how your body responds when you do that. When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.” Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not too sure how it should feel if my cells were rising, no matter the speed.

Now obviously, there are some things in your house that probably don’t make you feel joyful, but you need them. Think, maybe, of your toothbrush. Kondo recommends praising these objects, suggesting that after doing that, you *will* feel more joyful about them. “Try communing with them properly, with gratitude.” Seriously!

Kondo also recommends holding items you’re planning to get rid of, and thanking them for what they have brought to your life. She even says that it can be helpful to put cloth over a soon-to-be-discarded stuffed animal’s eyes, because looking into its eyes makes it more difficult to part with. I am not making this up. In some ways, the book almost had a decluttering-as-religion feel, which was a little strange. Maybe it’s an Eastern thing?

If there is an object you know you really should toss, but you just can’t do it, Kondo counsels you to keep it with confidence. “As long as you have approached that T-shirt with integrity, the day will come when you know that it has fulfilled its job.”

Some places, the book veers into the really … strange. One example is Kondo’s discussion of how cutlery must feel: “It moves from the plate to your mouth and back again countless times, which must make it quite dizzy. By treating anything that directly touches your body with extra respect, you can multiply the joy factor in your daily life.” I dunno about you, but reading things like this makes me a little tired. I have enough to focus on without trying to empathize with my spoon and fork.

I’ve admittedly focused on some of the odder parts of the book (I just can’t help it). I did enjoy reading it and feel I gleaned some helpful overall themes from it.

Here are some other books I’ve read and reviewed this month — feel free to read them. As for me, I’m off to commune with the crockpot 🙂

The Legend of the Easter Robin (children’s)

The Song of the Cardinal (Gene Stratton Porter)

Madame Bovary (Flaubert)

Check out what others have been reading at 5MinutesforBooks.




6 thoughts on “Book Chat February 2016 & Spark Joy

  1. Even though all of us could use lessons on de-cluttering, this is not the book for me. Sounds a little too wacky for my taste. While reading your excellent blog, I began remembering how it was such a big fad to talk to your plants so they would do better and grow better back in the day. 🙂
    I will not be talking to my cutlery or anything else mentioned. Just no time for such nonsense. I will be too busy doing the regular household chores, like cleaning the toilets. Wonder what the book author says to that exercise? 🙂

  2. Oh, Susan! I laughed out loud while reading this one. Your humor was good! I need to declutter, but my problem is that I’m so emotionally attached to so many things. That is *not* a good thing when trying to motivate yourself to declutter. I’m glad I read your review of this. It’s given me my chuckles for the day.

  3. This gave me a good chuckle. You HAVE to watch this IKEA commercial about being emotional over getting rid of a lamp – love the ending!:

    I think this is an Eastern thing, maybe even a New Age-ish thing.

    I do tend to keep some things now because we have storage space, but there are things I would get rid of if we ever have to downsize. I keep a box in the bottom of our pantry where I put things I come across that I no longer want, and when it’s full we take it down to the thrift store to donate. I keep seeing blogs where people talk about simplifying by going through every single thing in every single room and weeding things out, and I’ve thought, that doesn’t sound very simple to me – that sounds like a lot of hard work! LOL! I do that when we’re moving, but otherwise, who has time? But I have reduced the number of things I have sitting out, because who wants to keep dusting all that stuff. 🙂

  4. Since I derive joy from my possessions and love so many of them intensely, I do not think this would be a good book for me. Covering a stuffed animal’s head for a time before moving it out of my home – well that’s just not me! I am quite materialistic. What more can I say?

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