6 Reasons the KonMari Method Does Not Work With Books
A week ago, I had no idea who Marie Kondo was. Then, after rushing past yet one more article about her now-viral KonMari Method of decluttering a home, I slowed and took a closer look.
Marie Kondo is a professional tidier-upper. The star of several books, a ton of videos, and as of January 1 of this year, a Netflix show, she is teaching the world not only to fold clothes in a way that they can be found, but to toss out any and every piece of clothing that does not ‘bring joy.’
And hey, I’m all for getting rid of unwanted stuff. I’m also all for folding clean laundry, though my kids might call me neurotic about that. Where I disagree with Marie Kondo is when she applies her method to books.
The KonMari method tells us to toss any book that doesn’t give us a rush of pleasure when we put a hand on its spine. Ms. Kondo believes that the only books we should keep in our homes should be ones that “spark joy.”
There Is More To Books Than Reading
I disagree. Here’s why.
- Joy is only one reason to read. A biography teaches. A memoir enlightens. A mystery intrigues. A horror novel, well, is horrifying. And a romance can alternately warm the heart or bring us to tears of wanting. A book like Elie Wiesel’s Night brings no joy at all. But would you toss it?
- Books don’t go out of style. We can’t compare them to a pair of shoes that, four years later, looks old. Every book has something new to say, regardless of when we read it, which brings me to my next point.
- We have reading moods. Sometimes we want a mystery, sometimes a dissertation on Colonial America, sometimes a dystopian novel. How often have you bought a book one year, only to put it aside and then read it three or four years later? If we’ve tossed it out, we can’t read it.
- Books don’t need folding. They aren’t tee shirts, but can be put on shelves, even crammed on shelves, even stood in tall piles on the floor with their spines out and visible. Yes, to organizing titles, whether by genre or TBR or date bought or even spine color. But no, to removing them. Oh, and yes, to donating them to a library sale that will benefit both the library and the new buyer. But then, when we reach for a book that isn’t there, what do we do?
- Rereading. The Konmari method suggests we don’t do that. But I do. You? Have you ever read a book a second time and only then found its meaning. There is certainly joy in that. But if you deep-six it after the first reading, an opportunity is lost.
- The collective factor. A collection of books is like a wall of family photos. They remind us where we were at a particular time and paint a picture of who we are now. The book collection itself “sparks joy” – or, said differently, a home without books is a cold thing indeed.
Do you agree? Disagree? All comment welcome!
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I agree with you 100%. I can see the benefit of organizing books in whatever method the owner wants to, but to get rid of them just because they have been read or because they occupy space when they have already been read (therefore, they are “known quantity”), NO!!! It is perfectly fine to donate them to a library, for instance. But just eliminate them to declutter…. For starters, they are not clutter to me.
I couldn’t agree more! While I admit that I have more books than I have space, it is difficult to part with many of my tomes…I view them as old friends, new friends, or friends in waiting. I will say that I am a huge fan of ebooks, and my kindle in a hoarder’s paradise 😳, but the only regret I have is that, at 62, I may be running out of time to read everything I want to. I also adore audio books, and have one playing every time I get in my car!
I completely agree with you. I think the first problem with Kondo’s suggestions is that the books are seen as clutter – not in this house! I have several books that I have read more than once and find more to learn and enjoy with each read. Many books are for research and reference. Why would I get rid of those? I do have more books than I need, but tossing just for the sake of de-cluttering makes no sense to me. That said, my shelves do need a major reorganization. My daughter and I have also committed to spend this year reading the things we own but have not yet read before we buy new ones or borrow from the library. Of course we’ll slip up! But we want to focus on attending to what we already own. Step two of that is to decide what books deserve shelf space – for whatever reason – and which can be passed on to others.
I disagree. There are books i read again and again.there are books that i read once and pass on to others. Marie Kondo asks you to evaluate your attachment to things. If it brings you joy,keep it. For some people,a library full of books brings them joy.for those people,they just need to plan for this and arrange your home this way. The books i love,i felt love and they are going nowhere. I feel no guilt about the things i am keeping. And i won’t miss the things I’m getting rid of.something has truly clicked in me and I’m looking at things in a whole new way. I cherish the things i am keeping and treat them in a much more respectful way.
Most of the books I have have been reread so often I can pick them up, open at random, & know where I am in the story. My brother & sis-in-law, nonreaders, encouraged me to buy an ereader, thinking I would then get rid of my print versions – my sis-in-law is big on uncluttered space. I did download books to my ereader, even some I had in print. Haven’t discarded a single print edition & my ereader is out of power & untouched for more than a year.
I have entire bookcases of business and marketing books. I don’t get a rush of joy reading them, but they’ll be in those cases for decades to come (especially the classics). I haven multiple, entire mystery series that will also be there for a long, long while. Not because I feel a rush of joy looking at them at this moment, but with my bad memory, I can let them sit for a couple of years and they’ll be like new when I re-read them! 🙂
I walk past a wall of books every morning when I wake and every evening before I sleep! Sometimes I pass it in the middle of the day and stop…. looking around at my life, my kids, my husband, my friends…. all around me in our books and feel all sorts of emotions. Touching thr spine if this one or that one and remembering….. precious.
I agree with Barbara! When I moved from Iowa to Virgina, from 2story house with a finished basement, A to bedroom condo. I had decide what books I wanted to bring. I had 3 generations; My Grandfathers, My parents , and mine. It was very hard to down size that collection, but I did it. Of course Barbara’s books came with me as she writes such beautiful stories.. Yes I am still reading, and still buying. I choose books I love. After all most of us were taught that, books are our friends. Who throws out a friend? There are other things I liked about her method…but not this one. I go on with this but I think you get the gist of my comment.
LOL! I recently read Sweet Salt Air and my first thought on finishing was, “I want to read this again… maybe right away…!” It will be staying around home with lots of friends!
Hi Barbara, I so agree with you that there are many books I just cannot part with, no matter what. I organize mine alphabetically by author. The new ones to the left and older ones to the right. I always keep the books of my favorite authors, and you are at the top of that list. I will never part with one of your books, because I re-read them, usually when waiting for your new one to drop. Just to remember how much I love the way you write. I have yet to set one of your books aside for later, it just doesn’t happen, you are too good at what you do. Thank you
I attended a craft fair last week where one vendor was selling old hardcover books that had been cut up into whimsical shapes such as alphabet letters and little houses. I watched as many oohed and aahed over the unique repurposed “craft.” I wanted to cry. That anyone would have so little regard for a book albeit an old one astounded me. Some of my favorite books were written in the forties and fifties by authors who have long since passed. Elizabeth Ogilvie is one that comes to mind and whose work reminds of yours, Barbara. As I scan my bookcases, I am thankful that I’ve kept so many of my “old friends”. Clutter? Hardly.