The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with some tweaks

I decided that I would try something new over the last few months. What I decided to do was give audiobooks a try, as well as put some more nonfiction into my reading schedule. Since I was in the middle of moving and cleaning up my new apartment, I decided to try Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and I understand why people don’t rebound with her method. However, I have some major issues with a couple of the ways that she goes about helping other people clean up their homes.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


Discarding is the most vital part of the Kon-Mari method of tidying. I agree with Marie that most people definitely have more things than they want or need, but the word discard means, to me, to throw away, and I think so many of the items that Marie wanted people to discard could easily and happily be donated to a thrift store, church or homeless shelter. This may sound like a quibble, a simple change in terms, but Marie mentions donating things several times throughout the novel, separating it from her constant mentions of discarding items.

Discarding is (probably) the most used word in this book, but with the Kon-Mari step of thanking things for their service before discarding, I think that donating them would be a much better step for those items to give service to someone else, as opposed to being thrown into the garbage to never be loved by anyone. It’s also 1000x better for the environment, and can give you a tax credit depending on how much you get rid of. Now, granted, nobody wants your old school papers, art projects, etc. I think that donating would be a much better way to make this work for those who use the Kon-Mari method.

The other two things I have problems with are a little bit related, and are two things that are incredibly important to my life: books and photos.


According to Marie, you’re very unlikely to reread the novels you own. Now, maybe this is true in her case, and for some others, but I know so many people who reread many of the books they decide to purchase. I think it’s a little unfair for her to apply this to all of her clients without respecting their personal habits.

Some of my books I’ve read so many times that the covers are falling off, and I can look at a page and read it to you without actually reading it. Many of them I loan to friends, family and coworkers. Some books I recommend to so many people that I keep two copies of the same book. If I have a signed copy, I probably will buy a second copy so that I can not worry about destroying something that brought me great memories, or worrying that if I loan it to someone, it won’t come back. I love that I have my own library and that I can share my joy from my books with others.


Quite frankly, I think Marie is wrong about her rule for photos. I don’t disagree with putting things in albums, because it makes them easier to share, but her insistence on getting rid of photos just makes me sad. Photos are one of the easiest ways to share old memories with family members, and every one of them tells their own stories.

When my grandfather passed away, I got to spend an entire day with my grandmother – scanning photos, learning the stories behind them, and reading the notes on the backs of them. My grandmother probably had 6 boxes of photos – some from when they were first married, some of the kids, and some of us grandkids – and each one of them had its own memory attached. Most of them had little notes on the back from when my grandfather was in Korea, and I could see from those that they were exactly the same people as they were when they got married almost 64 years ago. Every single one of those photos sparked joy in her, and they sparked joy in me because I got to share that with her.

These issues aside, the Kon-Mari method is mostly sound. If it doesn’t spark joy, or fulfill a need, you probably don’t need it, and it can go to somewhere that it will be appreciated. Have you tried using Marie’s method? Did it work for you?

2 thoughts on “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with some tweaks

  1. I haven’t tried this, but I hear great things. The book chapter or whatever would just be the one that I would skip — I reread my books constantly and indeed rereading potential is the principle by which I curate my book collection. If I find myself not rereading something, I discard it (by donating it). So there, Marie Kondo. :p

    1. That’s what I do as well. Books and photos are my thing, though, much like organization was hers. Other than these things, her method is very smart and was very helpful in getting myself organized!

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