“It’s about understanding what needs to go verses what’s important to you” says author Marie Kondo. Her book The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, is a guide to help people declutter and tidy their homes by keeping items that “spark joy” and throwing items away that don’t.
It’s nice to hear about Kondo and her plan to tidy the nation of America, as I myself find the need to tidy the world around me. However her long list of ways to bring order to your home seems a bit extravagant! She dedicates 3 chapters on the subject of books starting with “Storing books: put all your books on the floor” to “Unread books: sometimes means never” and finally “Books to keep: those that belong in the hall of fame”. However, her book has not sparked joy for many novel lovers. Sorry, Kondo!
Kondo went on to clear her name after Katie Rosman from New York Times’ asked for her view on the book uproar. Marie Kondo made it clear that the decluttering method is there to help people find value in their books. If a book lover feels angry about throwing a book away, they absolutely must keep hold of that book as this is a clear indication that the book sparks joy to the reader. She went on to further explain that the Japanese climate is full of moisture, which makes it difficult to keep a larger quantity of books in good condition.
But the question still remains: what makes books harder to depart from than other belongings for book lovers?
As we have come to find, books take a lot of time, effort and concentration which in some cases, give back pleasure, insight and consolation. Diana Athill, writer and editor, explained that she “sank into a state of shaming uselessness” when trying to get rid of her books. However the surprising outcome was ‘that she hadn’t missed the books she got rid of” – so it does work?
It seems bizarre to judge a book on its ability to “spark joy” as most books do the opposite. The books I have very rarely make me feel joy. However, Anakana Schofield is right in saying that “literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us”. Books without a doubt take up a lot of room and moving books from one space to another, is an exhausting and painstaking task that can take all day. But I’m sure for many, books go beyond just an object taking up space in their shelves. Every time I purchase a book, I commit myself to the book and its author. So the moral of the story is if a book is of value to YOU or not, save yourself and just keep it!