KonMari-ing My Way To an Empty Bookshelf

KonMari-ing My Way To an Empty BookshelfThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Published by Ten Speed Press on 2014 (first published 2010)
Genres: Non-fiction
Pages: 207
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Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

That blog post title is a complete lie, fyi.

But I’ll get into that later. Also, this is not a review, I repeat, this is not a review… per se. Also (saying this in retrospect) this post turned out longer than I thought, but stick with me!

Now, not too long ago I bought Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with the idea that I really own too much stuff and that a good, thorough tidying would be a good idea. Ever since I got my own place I seem to have no problem filling it up with stuff, and it was beginning to bother me. Kondo is a hyped tidying guru, and ‘KonMari’ the way to go it seems, and I wanted to know what all the fuss is about.

Let me get started by saying the book is really easy to read. A bit repetitive here and there, but a good read on the whole.

Hello, super-tidy closet.
Hello, super-tidy closet.
First, Kondo got me thinking. She insists you have to think of a reason to tidy up, and “I want a tidy house” is not a good enough reason. I soon realised I do have a few good reasons I want to live clutter-free. For one, I’m just too young to be stuck with this much stuff. Also, I would like to live in a house that will allow me to relax, instead of being all overstimulated by all the things that are in it. I want my house to be a place where I can study and develop new skills. And, last but not least, I want my house to inspire me not to buy so much… stuff. Now, it’s not that my house is a bad place right now, exactly… but it could use some improvement.

So I set out, and started tidying my clothes. Sorting out your clothes is what Kondo actually insists you should do first. I actually tidied and sorted all my clothes about a year ago, but I was nowhere near as thorough as Kondo says you should be. And as a result I still had a lot of clothes that I didn’t wear and, here it goes, that didn’t spark joy. Yes, Kondo tells you your belongings should spark joy and if they don’t, get rid of them. Wow. Well, anyway, I followed her method and as a result I have 10 bags of clothes in total to get rid of and no clothes left to speak of. I am of course just kidding, I have enough left to get by comfortably, and I love every piece I’ve got left. So KonMari worked.

Next up, and what I really set out to tell you about: my books. I was really looking forward to this part, to be honest! Lately I have been pruning books here and there, and I’ve been careful with what I buy (no longer buying indiscriminately). But still my shelves were overflowing and I knew there were a lot of books that I didn’t really care for any longer. Curious about the result of my tidying?

Tidying my books took me nearly a day. You see, Kondo tells you to put all your books on the floor. That alone nearly took me an hour.
Then I had to pick up every book and see if they sparked joy. And here I admit right away, I cheated. Out of a certain principle, I kept all my Japanese literature and LGBT+ books without bothering to select them. I didn’t even take my Japanese literature from the shelf (yes, that above picture misses an entire book case, approximately 1/5th of my collection). I am sure Kondo wouldn’t stand for it if she found out. But Kondo wasn’t there so hah.

But my tidying was still successful. In the end, I deselected 293(!!) books. *faints* It was hard. I still have my doubts about some of the books (and they are still on piles in my living room, ack). But in the end, I think I made the right choice. And on an extra positive note: within one afternoon I already sold over € 200 worth of books!

Now, the result (and a mini bookshelf tour):

KonMari KonMari

First, a before and after of my living room shelves. In both the before and after, my science fiction & fantasy is on the first few shelves on the left with general fiction underneath. On the right, what used to be an overflowing bookshelf full of Japanese literature, there’s now my Dutch literature on top and my children’s books underneath.

I forgot to take a before photo of my office (that isn’t yet an office but will be when I finish all this tidying!) book shelves, but believe me: it was filled to the brim. It used to have my Dutch and Chinese literature, all my children’s books, classics, reference books and random books. I moved my Japanese literature to the left shelves, and my Japanese and Chinese study books and LGBT+ books are on the right. Ignore the bottom shelves, they belong to the memorabilia category and are saved for the last…

How do I feel after so much tidying? Relieved. I still have a long way to go (it doesn’t end with clothes and books) but I can’t wait to see the results!


  1. I’ve been curious about Kondo’s method for a while. Decluttering sounds good, especially when you’ve been moving so many times, including once across the ocean, like me. But she appears a bit extreme: for instance, there is this thing about NOT leaving shampoo and soap bottles around the bathtub or in the shower booth. You’re supposed to wipe those bottles dry and put them away after your shower. Sounds a bit too much for me (and waste of time).
    For the books, the best way to avoid clutter, in my case, has been to rely on the public library. This way, I only buy books I want to keep because I loved them.
    Angélique recently posted… Aurora / Boréal 2015 : Les îles du ciel de Daniel SernineMy Profile

    • I haven’t gotten to the point of how to store your things yet, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that either to my bottles!
      I know many people also laugh about the way Kondo recommends you put away your socks (not balled up but folded) and don’t follow her advice. I felt the same way at first, but now I’m folding them and wow, I don’t know why I never did that before. It’s genius! (I shouldn’t go as far as to say my socks are happy now, but… I think they’re happy now lol)
      Carola recently posted… KonMari-ing My Way To an Empty BookshelfMy Profile

    • All through Facebook 🙂 I had a bunch of specialist books (mostly about Japan and about Japanese literature) which I put up for sale in my old study groups. And I shared the link to my GR shelf of books I’m getting rid of, and sold a lot that way too. I really don’t want to waste too much time on listing books on websites and shipping them…
      Carola recently posted… KonMari-ing My Way To an Empty BookshelfMy Profile

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