Book Club | Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy

Author: Lolly Gautier-Ollerenshaw

Those of you onboard with the capsule wardrobe mentality or fans of the minimalist ethos will probably be aware of Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying‘ which was released in 2014. I confess I bought the book for my husband as a half serious joke in order to try to deter him from leaving wet towels on the bed and socks around (but never in!!!) the laundry basket. Suffice to say it didn’t get read and there are still daily damp patches from sodden towels on my bedlinen. Grrrrrrr!

For those of you not familiar with ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’, the ethos of the self-help book (albeit a different kind) is the transformation of your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the author’s (Marie) KonMari Method. Marie is an expert declutterer who will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method.

To categorise the book as simply a tidying guide is shortsighted and actually a bit reductive; by applying the lessons that the book has to offer can transform the way you see your possessions. I was intrigued enough to buy the book but I never quite got around to perusing its delightful pages so when Lauren mentioned that Spark Joy! was on the list for the next round of RMS’ book club I jumped at the chance to review it.

To put it simply, ‘Spark Joy’ is essentially an illustrated guide of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ with the book split into master tips and an introduction to the KonMari method to begin with before launching into part two; the tidying encyclopaedia. If I’m honest, it was the second part of this book that I was initially most interested in since I was keen to get down to the nitty gritty of how to store everything from clothes to credit card statements to makeup and greetings cards. There is even a section dedicated to tidying sentimental items something I’m horrendously guilty of hoarding in mass.

The most important trick that Marie Kondo claims is the successful application of the KonMari method is to ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” for everything around you. If it doesn’t, you should feel free to donate, sell, or dispose of it. EEEK! Easier said than done.

As I’m beginning to go through the numerous boxes of my belongings currently in storage at my mum’s house before moving them all into our new home it seemed a perfect time to start practising Marie’s method – something she agrees with. ‘Don’t leave tidying up until after moving‘ she states, along with ‘if you haven’t found a new house yet then start tidying right way because it’s the house you live in now that will lead you to your next house‘. You have been told.

So I began.

Accompanied by Spark Joy I began discarding (something that needs to be rigorously followed otherwise there’s a chance of relapse), and then began tidying (back into boxes I should add) by category rather than location (think clothes, books, papers rather than living room, dining room, bedroom). This apparently prevents you shuffling things round from room to room and actually makes you tidy. Being presented with a huge amount of the same thing makes you more inclined to discard and treat your belongings appropriately.

I have to agree. I confess I felt a bit sick when I realised that I had five long black cardigans which pretty much looked identical to one another and a quadrillion pairs of black court shoes and that’s just the start.

Once I’d ‘discarded’ I turned to Marie’s beautiful yet simple line drawings which illustrate her origami inspired folding method as it applies to shirts, trousers, socks, and jackets (yep even parkas!) right down to odd shaped tops and hair accessories, as well as images of properly organized drawers, cupboards and rooms. Marie also adds in-depth advice on moving, packing and dealing with necessary objects that may not spark joy thereby answering all the questions she’s received since ‘The Life-Changing Magic’.

The book essentially provides a more coherent, informative up to date version of ‘The Life-Changing Magic’ complete with handy guides that may have been difficult to follow in the written form but which are easily depicted in drawn formats.

So what did I think. Generally I liked the book. It helped me enormously with my tidying exploits and definitely made me more ruthless when approaching the storage of my belongings. At times she made me laugh with her anecdotes (which actually are enormously helpful when illustrating a point) and her comments such as ‘store bras like royalty’ are simply Queenlike!

But then there are times when I simply have to disagree. I’m not, for example, going to remove all the garish labels from the bottles of cleaning products to increase the ‘joy’ factor. I simply do not have enough hours in the day to do so and if I did then that time would be best put to use elsewhere.

Some of her philosophies are also in sharp conflict with my control-freak desires to hold onto things I might need “just in case” (which you’re actually advised to get rid of) and her approach to books made me gasp in horror ‘if you believe that books are one thing that you can’t possibly do away with…that’s a terrible waste‘. For me pretty much every book I’ve read has and continues to spark joy so it would be nigh on impossible to part with them.

But then perhaps that says more about me than Marie. Perhaps I’m not a true convert to the method. For those of you looking to embark on a true overhaul or at their wits end with the amount of stuff you have then I would definitely recommend this as an excellent starting point.

SO have you read ‘Spark Joy’? What did you think? Were there any lightbulb moments for you? Anything you disagreed with? We’d love to hear all about it…

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Author: Lolly
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.
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22 thoughts on “Book Club | Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy

  1. I couldn’t agree more on the books! But I must admit that getting rid of some- the slightly embarrassing Mills and Boon section, holiday reads I hated- felt so good!

    The thing that gets to me is MK (I’ve only skimmed the first one to be fair…) has no truck with people who give you things that don’t really spark joy but that hang around for them to see when they visit! Maybe the answer is their own chunk of cupboard space…..

    1. Yeah I don’t really get that either Lucy…
      I have to say that I have discarded a few books but for the main I just couldn’t bear to get rid of them partly because I want Hector to be able to have a wealth of literature at his fingertips when he’s old enough to make use of them…

  2. Ive started to apply her philosophy and so far I’m impressed! I managed to get rid of so many clothes that used to ‘spark joy’ but I had downgraded to slobs which frankly were not nice anymore. I like that she says about not downgrading clothes and slob clothes should be nice clothes that spark joy to relax in. Gave me (ahem an excuse!) motivation to buy some nice joggers which I enjoy putting on. I also found her comment helpful – ‘everything should have a home’ otherwise it’s left anywhere in the house. I’m still going through the book- not sure how I feel a out getting to of photos- so may not be too rigid with her approach there. The more sentimental objects are, the harder it can be. I am big fan of her approach and some of her followers have put some good YouTube clips on how to fold clothes on the internet which are helpful. I’d be interested to hear other people’s views on her book 🙂

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with everything should have a home Becky – a regimen I actually followed before reading Marie’s book – if only so you know where to find it when you actually need it. I haven’t gone down the photos route yet – I couldn’t bear too and this is another area like books which I just can’t discard. I am a sentimental old fool….
      I didn’t know that there were YouTube clips though…I’m off to check them out!

  3. I really want to read this book and give my house a thorough declutter. My hoarding habits have definitely decreased over the last couple of years but I find getting rid of things really hard work – especially clothes! But the frustrating thing is that when I go on holiday and just have an organised capsule collection of clothes and toiletries I love the feeling of not having stuff everywhere. I think its time for MK to kick me into gear.

    1. Claire it’s definitely worth a read if you’re keen to declutter. If anything it made me re-evaluate my attitude towards certain things. I’d got to the point where I was fed up with so much ‘stuff’. Taking lots of clothes to the charity shop actually felt liberating. It’s about being firm as well as honest with yourself.

  4. I’ve just moved back in with my parents after a break up, and having seen all my belongings stacked up in boxes one thing occurred to me… I have a lot of ‘stuff’ I don’t need!

    Now seems like the perfect time to detox!

    Though I agree with you on the books, Lolly. They are definitely on the joyful list!

    1. Ahhhh I’m so sorry to hear that Emily. What a shame. Sending you huge hugs and kisses and virtual hot chocolates. But yes perfect time to detox. Glad you’re with me on the books though #teambooks xxxx

  5. I read the first book and it did make me feel so motivated! (Although I totally agree about not wanting to get rid of books though and some things were a little drastic!) My version of “de-cluttering” was moving my clothes from the wardrobe to a suitcase in the loft because I couldn’t bear to get rid of them. One month later if anyone asked me what was in the suitcase I wouldn’t be able to tell you! I also recently lived with parents for 6 weeks whilst my house purchase went through and made me realise I could totally live with one suitcase of clothes and a few pairs of shoes…made me think the capsule wardrobe/MK method could really work if I was brave enough to do it…..

    1. Did you get rid of the suitcase in the end Tish? Or is it still there? I’m guilty of wearing the same few clothes on repeat so it’s obvious that actually we don’t really need all that much do we…
      That said I’m seriously seriously considering open storage when I finally move into the new house. My current wardrobe situation is not helpful in helping me to access and see half my clothes so I just don’t wear them.

      1. Just thought I would wade in here. I think this is why I don’t wear half my clothes either, I love my wardrobes but it isn’t that easy to see everything (no least because there is so much navy/black/grey!) however open storage scares me, I just don’t believe you can (or people do) keep it as neat as you see on Pinterest. I think ideally I would like a dressing “room” that is open storage but that you can shut the door on when you’ve been in a rush and flung all your bras across the floor (happens.)

        I text James a picture of my ideal dressing room scenario earlier today – here’s hoping! ha ha!!! x

        1. The suitcase made it to the new house and is still lurking! But it needs to go….perhaps this weekend can see round 2 of MK ruthless discarding!
          Exactly… I just took my favourites to my parents and the rest of my clothes went into storage and I didn’t miss it, sometimes I think there is so much in my wardrobe that I don’t like or wear that its harder to see all the nice bits I do like.
          Charlotte – that is the dream! The plan was to use our smallest bedroom as “storage” just whilst our fitted wardrobes were built but there is sooo much to do we’ve delayed that and we are now using it as a walk in dressing room – amazing! Although I can tell you now it doesn’t look like Pinterest at all – no colour coordinated pretty rails and yes, bras and tights strewn everywhere! If you manage to find something pretty AND practical let us know!! x

  6. I feel completely the same way about books Lolly. When Lee convinced me I needed to downsize my library, I was horrified. All books spark joy in me, and I couldn’t face throwing anything away when I so desperately want our children to grow up in a bookish household.

    I was pleased when I came up with the ‘one author/one book’ rule – which basically meant I kept out the first one of a series or my fave by a particular author, then secretly hid the rest in the loft while he was out one day! He never goes up there so I managed to get about ten full crates sneaked away.

    I’ve also applied a similar – ahem – technique to clothes. While sorting through, I asked myself if 8-year-old me would have loved to dress up in this? If the answer was yes, it went in a secret bag which I’ve hidden in the loft.

    Somehow I don’t think Marie and I would see eye to eye! xx

    1. Hahah! You made me laugh Karen – I’m impressed that you’ve managed to 1) Sneak all ten crates up into the loft (I’m praying Lee doesn’t read RMS for your sake!) an 2) be so rigorous – I’m not sure I could even be ok with them being in the loft. So impressed with your restraint.

      I wholeheartedly agree with the bookish household thing though – I was so lucky as a child to literally go up to the bookshelf at home and pick something new to read off the shelves all the time. I want Hector to do this too – to have a thirst for reading. It sets you up so well in life to have a grasp of language and literature.

      Perhaps I should be applying the same philosophy to clothes too. I have fond memories of being small and going to the house of an (older) friend of my parents with a huge chest of dressing up clothes and high heels. It was flipping amazing!

      1. That’s a good point… he does stumble over sometimes for a little read. Lee, it’s all lies, there’s NOTHING in the loft. I promise!

        That’s exactly what I have in mind with the clothes too Lolly. All of my sparkly party dresses, swishy skirts and amazing hats are just going to be too much fun for little ones. There is no way they’re going in the bin.

        Luckily, we have decent access to the loft so I can be up and down in minutes. There are still tons downstairs to choose from too so it’s the best of both xx

  7. This sounds very interesting, I don’t have her first book but have read a little about it and applied it to some of my drawers – I love my sock soldiers. Also trying to get husband on board with mixed results..

    I did do some delcuttering yesterday and have a pile of stuff for charity including books but it’s just the rubbish chick books or thrillers I’ve picked up at charity shops, no way I’m throwing out some of my favourite books because they do indeed give me joy

    Tempted to buy this…

  8. When we sold our house, to renovate a cottage bought at auction, we put everything into storage, after several thousand pounds storing it for two years it was delivered back to us, six years on, most of it is still in boxes, no idea what is in them. How I wished I’d got rid of the lot and started afresh, most of the furniture I paid all that money to store I hate now! I must buy this one book to motivate me to finally sort them out.

    1. Wow Eileen I want to hear more about this cottage!

      I empathise on the furniture front though – our old sofa won’t fit into our new living room (we had loads of open plan space before and now whilst we have more space, through more rooms, each room is slightly smaller) so we’re going to have to buy another. I’ve also given away all our dining chairs to my sister and a gorgeous shelving unit I loved just won’t fit in with the design scheme I have for my new house. We’ve got so much stuff to buy!

  9. Sounds like an interesting read but I’m not sure I could get on board with it. I think you’d need to overhaul your whole attitude to shopping too, otherwise what’s to stop you filling your house again and going through the process again? And to me it seems a bit wasteful too. Most of us have far too much stuff, I agree, but chucking it out to find that you need to buy something else doesn’t seem the answer either. I keep old clothes to wear for decorating, gardening, farm work, for rags for cleaning etc etc. It seems a waste to throw them out just because they don’t spark joy when they could be repurposed. I like the idea of a capsule wardrobe but in reality I like having several tops to choose from rather than just a few.

    Re the books thing, I love reading and I want James to grow up reading too, but I actually stopped buying books a few years ago and got a library card. it was a great decision as I had far too many books! I love the library, I now take James to book bugs there and he has his own baby library card. We used to have a library van come to our house when we were little (rural location) and it was so exciting when it turned up! I think the excitement of books can be just as great by visiting a library rather than buying loads.

    I’ll definitely have a look at this book though to see what all the hype is about (borrowed from the library of course! Ha ha!)

  10. I think I am absolutely going to buy this book after reading this review and the comments to date! My daughter is 10 months old and I’m just beginning to rediscover pre-pregnancy clothes I had tucked away. Who knew I had that many jeans eh? We’re also about to move and so I’ve half-heartedly begun to sort through things (a large number of old clothes have wound up in my daughters fancy dress box though rather than charity!).

    On the book front, I carted heaps of books to charity a few years ago, but kept two full bookcases worth of books I couldn’t bear to part with. I arranged them all in spine colour order…and voila; super pretty and surprisingly easy to find a book quickly! Ergo….my books spark joy! (I think I may have read the colour organise tip on this very website!)

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