Marie Kondo, tidying queen and host of Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, introduces the ‘KonMari method’ in order to aid in our purge of clutter.
Her trademark method entails categorizing your belongings, such as clothes, books, and sentimental items, keeping only those that “spark joy” in you. Rather than just tidying up, this method helps us recognize and discard those items that do not hold any value to us.
Her methods, however, have faced some backlash, especially when the topic turns to de-cluttering books. As with any other item, Kondo suggests that you should only keep those books that bring joy to you, and to refrain from being sentimental about every book you own. Leaving books on shelves is like a “praying mantis lurking in the grass”, she says.
This advice, however, sparked outrage on Twitter, with one person commenting: “Books are works of art, they spark joy and so much more!” More recently, in their tribute to the recent tragic death of Karl Lagerfield, Waterstones tweeted how he had over 300,000 books in his collection: “Just don’t tell Marie Kondo.” Her stance on books have stirred wide-spread controversy.
This public outcry proves that we still value physical copies of books; but, there is still a view of books as old fashioned and out dated; as a consequence, publishing companies have had to adapt to modern technology. For instance, Amazon announced the Kindle MatchBook, a program which allows users to buy a digital copy of a physical book they purchased through Amazon.
There has also been a general decline in readership in the modern age. The Local Data Company, for example, reveals how the number of bookshops in the UK has fallen over the last five years to 2,547, and there are now more car dealerships in the country than bookshops. Yet, despite all this, the backlash to Kondo’s advice has been passionate, proving that people still cherish the experience of reading a paperback book.
So, yes, books take up space that could be filled with other things. They’re dusty, dirty, and quite old fashioned, but they are also important and invaluable. Kondo does not want to take away people’s books, that is a misunderstanding. She explains how “Only you can know what kind of environment makes you feel happy.” If we want a whole library of books, then you should keep a whole library of books. If the prospect of throwing books away makes you angry, you are entitled to feel that way. The KonMari method can help you discover what you really value, and in-turn, helps you gain a better understanding of yourself.