The Marie Kondo Book Controversy

Ever since Netflix’s new series “Tyding up with Marie Kondo” premiered one major controversy emerged: her take on books. Or at least what some people might have understood from Marie Kondo‘s take on books. Because the controversy implies that Marie thinks everyone should only keep 30 books tops in their own private shelves (just like herself) and get rid of the rest. And for what I understand from her method from reading her book and watching the series that statement is not accurate at all. What she preaches in her organizational method is that you only should keep in your house things that spark joy in you. So, anything that makes you glow and happy, that puts a smile on your face or soul is a keeper, regardless what it is, a book, a clothing, a note, a decor object, a bag…

The Controversy. Photo: Twitter Print Screen.

Other things that are useful but not particular joyful are also keepers. And in both categories you can place books and keep them. I explain: if you are a book lover and love all your books like your children, then of course all your books are a keeper. However, if not, then those are the ones you should consider donating. Having said that, if, by any chance some of your books are not joyful but they are useful to you cause you are always coming back to read or check them for your work, for instance, then of course they are a keeper too.

Having all those things in mind I guess it is obviously that Marie Kondo is not advocating to clear completely your bookshelves. On top of that, the power of decision is always with you, anyways and your joy grading system if you want to follow Marie’s approach to organizing. Marie is not the one who decides what to keep and what to toss, it is you.

Plus, it is always good to remember that what works greatly for some people might not work at all for others. It is great to add methods, suggestions, options so people can choose which way to go. What it is not great is this idea that everyone has to agree and follow whatever method, suggestion or option one person goes for. And only that one. Nobody has to. And if it is not for you, then pass and let others who feel the method speaks to them, embrace it.

I personally like Marie Kondo’s approach to organizing spaces. Especially the bring joy element. I believe that it is a good idea to only keep what and who brings joy to our lives. But as a Personal Stylist who organize clients’ closets I know well that this is just one of the many ways I can choose from. For each client I have to think of the best approach that fits perfect for them. And sometimes the KonMari will be a good one, others, not really. And either way, it is perfectly fine. Cause it is great to have options.

But going back to books… I have to give my two cents on that:

Up to when I was a late teenager I keep all my books on my shelves. Or at least all the books I loved the most. One day, I was cleaning and organizing my things and boom!, the coin dropped. Why I was keeping all those books that I read once and never looked at them again? Even the ones I loved the story? Why? To cultivate some dust? To just have them in my shelves and people who came to visit me could see how much I loved reading? Or because I really loved books that much, therefore I wanted to keep them around, bringing me endless joy?

It turned out to be exactly the last one-ish. And it was very hard to detach from them. It took me a while, I confess. But I eventually ended up donating almost all of them at last. And I did, because another coin dropped: if I really loved books that much, why on earth I would want to keep them trapped in my own shelves, getting dusty, never read again while there are people around who would love to read that book, dive into that little world and enrich their own but cannot afford it? Why not allow those books I loved so much to bring joy to others? That makes way more sense, right?


That is why from then on I don’t understand this concept of book lovers. I do believe now that who loves books pass them on so they can share and amplify their joy. The ones who keep books hostage are book collectors, not book lovers. And until the ball drops, they will not see the beauty of passing books on and will not experience the joy of it.

A pity.