I don’t exactly remember the first time I watched the show Hoarders, but I do remember how it made me feel. Great. Hey, my house wasn’t that dirty, I didn’t have to pick up at all! I mean I still did, but I definitely cleaned with slight air of superiority around myself. “Sure, my house isn’t the best. But it’s not that.”
Enter Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the show for the person with average clutter. While I didn’t read Kondo’s 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I couldn’t say no to watching the show. I binged all eight episodes over the course of about three days.
We don’t really have that much clutter in the house. Some for sure, but not a lot. Clutter gives me anxiety so I’m quick to cut down on unnecessary items, and my husband is prone to asking things like, “What is this? Do we even need this? I’m getting rid of it.”
I did end up using the KonMari Method on my closet, though. I said, “Thanks” and “Goodbye” to clothes I hadn’t worn in years, that I will never wear again. And that was it. I had no urge to KonMari the rest of my house or my life, and I think Kondo would be okay with that.
Throughout the show, Kondo encouraged people to consider what was important to them and go forward from there. She never told anyone they had to get rid of anything, and when a man downsized his sneaker collection from 160 pairs to 45 (probably still more than anyone strictly needs), she didn’t admonish him for keeping too many. She was happy for him!
This is one of the reasons that I find the backlash against Marie Kondo’s tidying advice on books so frustrating. In the fourth episode of the series, “Sparking Joy After a Loss,” Kondo helped a woman declutter her late husband’s books. And people lost their ever-loving minds.
Look, I am never without a book. I read as fiercely and voraciously as I can, I fill my home, my room, my kids’ rooms with books, and I truly, deeply love every last one of them. I find joy from ripped covers to bent spines to the ones that have been gathering dust in my “to-read” pile, and I believe Kondo would be happy with this.
But of course the internet is a place of willful ignorance, so people latched on to the idea that Kondo’s personal preference for keeping only 30 books at a time represented an idea she enforced on her clients.
Guys, no. Marie Kondo wants you to look at your own life, your own home, and your own preferences when tidying. So let’s not take something that is about introspection and personal preference and turn it into something that it’s not.
If you want your books, keep them. If you don’t, let them go. Just find your own joy.
Writer Bio: Caitlin Lane lives in Tucson with her husband and two kids. An active writer and lazy runner, she is currently studying Japanese and Creative Writing at the University of Arizona. When she isn’t busy typing on her laptop, she’s probably busy drinking too much coffee.