As someone who compulsively throws stuff out, I was thrilled to hear that the bestselling book worldwide right now is about throwing stuff out: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

You should buy that book right now because my husband and I both loved it. I knew I’d love it because I am compulsive about throwing things out. She gives me deep spiritual justification for throwing out stuff my kids look for three weeks later. My husband loves the book because it feels entirely illogical to him that we keep things we don’t use, and it’s a relief to have the logic for giving all that stuff away.

See that dresser in the photo? The dresser is empty. Everything I was storing in there, I gave away.  Marie Kondo defies sentimentality. Instead of saving things because they were there for us at an important time, we need to thank our stuff for serving us well, and then we pass it on to someone else.

But if you pass it to a friend, it’s just junk in their house. If you give it to a thrift shop then someone will like it so much they will pay for it. This is the type of analysis that appeals to me. Kondo also says we should only keep stuff that brings us joy. Now, each time I ask my husband to carry some oversized thing to the garage, he says to me, “Oh, does this bring you joy?”

That phrase reminds me to examine everything in the house and decide to either keep it in the house because I love it or to give it away. No halfway decisions where I just store things in the garage.

I start taking pictures of things in my house that are gone. I take pictures of emptiness.

Smooth surfaces. And uncluttered enclaves.

But just around the corner from this photo is a pile of books. Actually I have about two thousand books in the house. And they are sort of taking over, and I want to get rid of something, but for most of my twenties my only source of friendship and stability were my books, so they fall more into the love category than most stuff in my house.

But I notice a pile of books publishers sent to me to review. I throw out almost every book I get, but these books caught my eye and made it into my Read Now pile. Only they’ve been in the pile so long that it is slipping from important physical rendering of a to-do list into a symbolic tower of nagging and wishful thinking.

Still, I cannot give up the idea of reading them.

I tell myself if I read them I can box them up. So I spent the day reading my pile of books. These were the best of the bunch.

The first one I read seemed like it would be full of juicy tidbits for productivity: I Know How She Does It, by Laura Vanderkam. There were tips, but I found myself spending most of my time reading the detailed schedules of women who earn six figures and have kids. I learned the most by paying attention to what made me angry. I didn’t like that women were largely unable to figure out how many hours a week they worked because work was scattered throughout the day. Because if they don’t know how much they work, how will I know how much I work? Do I work enough?

I also didn’t like that many women called making breakfast “family time.” Probably because I spend so much time with my kids and it seems that I would not, with this daily log system, get credit for spending more than most women. It’s lame that I’m snippy and competitive. I liked the book for forcing me to see my lameness.

Next up was A World of Work, by Ilana Gershon. It’s a career guide, but I can assure you, as someone who receives every career guide published, this one is totally different. It’s about how to get jobs you didn’t know existed and the writing is half suspense novel and half anthropology treatise.

The chapter on the guy who fixes iPhones is a cliffhanger at every page turn. When the iPhone 5 comes out he imports screwdrivers from China and stay up 48 hours in a row in order to be the first to figure out how to take it apart and put it together again without destroying the hard-to-find, before-it’s-on-sale model he scored from a friend.

Gershon is an academic, so there are footnotes that take my breath away. For example, when the ballerina talks about ruining her feet for her career, the footnote is for Discipline and Punish by Foucault.

The best books make me want to learn more, and Gershon’s take on the underground economy of jobs you don’t know exist made me want to read Alexa Clay’s book The Misfit Economy. I have known for a while that people who do a good job running illegal businesses are generally good entrepreneurs, but with a morality chip askew. For example, drug dealers have always interested me.

Clay’s book takes a fresh approach to these unsung heroes of innovation. If you think of the fine line between legal and illegal, she is just one half a hair on the legal side, with chapter titles like Hustle, Copy, Hack, Provoke, Pivot. This is a great tool book for finding that elusive idea for a company.

Clay reminds us that we don’t need to invent a way to fly to outer space. And in fact, the person who invents the way probably won’t make a bunch of money. It’ll be the person who hustles, provokes or pivots in the most elegant way—that person will get all the kudos.

This book is really a great way to start the unlearning process we have to go through after eighteen years of school teachers banging into our head that copying and hacking are wrong.

Now that my reading is done, I want to give these books as gifts, but I know they will just linger in the naggingly high piles of over-booked friends. So I am giving them to the thrift shop.

I love that my pile is gone. So often our piles of books to read is so threateningly tall or dishearteningly intellectual that it exhausts us just to live with the books, and decisions need to be made. Which is why I am keeping the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Because it is life-changing, believe it or not.

65 replies
  1. Mike
    Mike says:

    Gang Leader for a Day was a good book. It invoked more empathy than I suspected and didn’t feel as dated as some of the stories might have been.
    If, of course, you need another book to read.

  2. Jeannie
    Jeannie says:

    Thank you for the book reviews. I will be checking some of these out. Both of my daughters are going to be getting Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have found the less stuff I have, the more relaxed I become.

  3. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    When I divorced 1o-ish years ago I sold/gave away about half of my possessions. Most of the rest stayed in the house I gave to my ex. It was a hard transition but I was shocked to find I missed almost none of what I gave up. So now I try to focus on not keeping stuff.

    That includes especially books. I love to read, but I hate to store the books now. So I bought a Kindle. It’s got to be a wicked important book for me to buy a physical copy today.

  4. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Great post and my philosophy. I think people view books as trophies as their intellectual prowess and hang onto them as evidence of intellect. Our house is near water, therefore damp and musty. Books get destroyed. I have gotten rid of almost all books. New books come as eBooks. I know people love to “touch” books, but at this point, it is clutter for me.

    Finally, I am Queen of Craigslist, ebay and Goodwill. I get rid of ANYTHING we are not using as quick as possible. I love to post things for FREE on Craigslist, because someone comes and gets them almost immediately, and I know the item will be reused/recycled. Vs collecting dust in the garage.

  5. INTJ Professor
    INTJ Professor says:

    Beautiful pictures of the rooms in your house–truly serene. I love the paint choices.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh, thank you! I love looking at the colors in my house so much! Sometimes I move a chair so I can sit in the middle of doorways and see all the colors at once.

      Penelope

      • CeeBee
        CeeBee says:

        Do you know what color your stairway is? I am painting my bedroom next week and I know there is a bright yet dark/warm yellow out there waiting for me to find it. Thanks!

  6. Nur Costa
    Nur Costa says:

    If you want I can keep the books you don’t want. I read everything that falls into my hands.

    I am in my 20s, so I get the feeling you describe. I couldn’t trade the books I love for anything. Well, in fact, a couple of weeks ago I got rid of 20 of my books -which is almost nothing compared to my shelves. And guess what: all of them were management books. NONE of those books I wanted to get rid of were fiction. Or essays, or poetry, or creative non-fiction.

    I value more my novels rather than ferrazi’s ‘never eat alone’ book. I’d rather eat alone reading Patti Smith, Adrienne Rich or Amélie Nothomb. Or all of them together -although it could get weird.

    Your blue walls remind me of the book Bluets by Maggie Nelson. Loved that book.

    • bob b. soxx
      bob b. soxx says:

      “I value more my novels rather than ferrazi’s ‘never eat alone’ book. I’d rather eat alone reading Patti Smith, Adrienne Rich or Amélie Nothomb. Or all of them together -although it could get weird.”

      Nicely put.

  7. William
    William says:

    Thanks so much for bringing to my attention the various books you described. It’s a great gift to turn people on to books, music, and other things of immense value in life that we might not have come across otherwise. You’re on your way to teshuvah for recent past indiscretions re the dearly departed.

  8. Erin
    Erin says:

    You could buy Marie Kondo’s book, or you could save money and space by just reading from the many awesome minimalist blogs out there. I’m not a strict minimalist, but decluttering is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t all at once, but the process of purging and learning not to spend impulsively over the last several years has helped me in countless ways and also given me the confidence to try to make other healthy adjustments to my life.

  9. kristy
    kristy says:

    Why don’t you hate on Laura Vanderkam’s philosophy as much as you hate on Sheryl Sandberg’s?

    She totally pushes the you can have it all mentality, I read her blog and am faced with a dilemma when i consider her highly scheduled approach to life in order to have everything.

    Because i have tried it and, when i know i always have to be somewhere or doing something i feel stressed, angry and impatient.

    So impatient my 3 year old now repeats, ‘I am need feeling patient right now’ when she isn’t getting her own way.

    So why is it you don’t condone her message as well?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Well, I do hate the message of the book. But you can hate a book and get a lot out of it. Laura did a great service by publishing all the logs that people kept. So we can see the logs and draw conclusions that are totally different from Laura’s.

      This reminds me of reading Love in the Time of Cholera and hating it and loving it at the same time. I hated it because I couldn’t understand it and I realized that I’m a much better writer than reader — there are a lot of books that might actually be too complicated for me to read. I have a low reading comprehension or something. I don’t know. But I loved it because I understood how the germaniums were a character in the novel. I understood a new way to read and I understood my own limitations of a read even though I died getting to the end of the book.

      Penelope

  10. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    I’m someone who compulsively keeps everything, like bubblewrap and the foam packaging my curtain rails came in – just in case. So this post reminds me of my resolution to declutter the house. Progress has been very slow. But this post makes me think, actually, I don’t want emptiness or smooth surfaces. And dammit, maybe I want my enclaves cluttered.
    You see, the other day, after the rosetta probe landed on the comet, my 5-yr old found and refashioned the foam into a space probe. That was all I needed to justify keeping more junk. On further examination it is now clear to me: I’m just waiting for someone to write ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Hoarding Stuff’.

  11. harris497
    harris497 says:

    But I define my personhood through my possessions or lack of them.
    I grew up poor and remember my mom keeping the ham until it turned green before serving the last of it because she grew up poor, and having ham or anything else meant you were somebody.
    Old compulsions die hard I guess…

  12. Alex Walsh
    Alex Walsh says:

    I love that book, the life-changing magic of tidying up. It made getting rid of stuff so much easier. I now fold my laundry differently because of it, which she talks about in the book.

  13. susan arnold
    susan arnold says:

    The local library did the nicest thing for me when they allowed holds to be suspended until you could get around to reading them Before that, they just came in as they were available and I would get like 10 books ready to pick up at once. Now I get only the ones I un suspend because I have time to read them, and the 30 odd rest of them can wait on my list until I get to them. And I don’t have to buy or store the books!
    Works great for me!

  14. v
    v says:

    the passage of time- seeing people in my family die and my own aging process-has helped me emotionally grasp that i shouldn’t try to hang on to things. before i would worry about messing up a new dress or new shoes. now i don’t. i know they will wear out just like i am wearing out physically, so i might as well wear them as much as possible. i try to stay in the present and look to the future more . is used to have bags and bags of my kids’ drawings and art. then one day my husband threw it all out. he did me a favor.

  15. Bailey
    Bailey says:

    “. . .Women were largely unable to figure out how many hours a week they worked because work was scattered throughout the day.”

    I’m assuming the word “women” means females who are married to men and/or mothers.

    Why is women’s work “scattered throughout the day?” Are we better multi-taskers? Over committed? Too perfectionist? Working from home? Married to lazy slobs who don’t pull their weight?

    Does “scattered work” make us more or less productive at our actual job? I can make good arguments either way:
    1) Less time to work means we are more efficient and focused, or
    2) Less time to work means we get less done.

    Every time I try to focus on just one thing I get pulled in ten directions. Laundry, bills, pedicure, dinner, guests visiting, birthday presents, broken vacuum, plant watering, exercise, imagining better colors for walls.

    Yes, I’m a woman. But I still manage to get everything done, not just work, everything, and usually with good results.

    But the reality of having done 100 small fragmented tasks every day, and not being able to recount a single one because I was so busy and am now so tired, is not always a satisfying feeling.

    Great post, and thank you for the book tips.

  16. amy parmenter
    amy parmenter says:

    The best way to part with stuff is to clean out a person’s apt or home after they die. You realize they have so much stuff…that means nothing to anyone but them…and you probably don’t know what it meant to them so in order to expedite the process – and because it doesn’t really mean anything to you, even though you feel bad about it, you throw it out (or give it away…). I’ve done it a few times and now I throw stuff out instead of moving it from room to room, home to home…until I leave it for someone else to throw out because it doesn’t mean anything to them. Even after I throw it out – I still keep the memories. I don’t do this for everything. But a lot.

  17. jessica
    jessica says:

    A couple years ago we rented a construction dumpster outside of our building and threw our entire house away (except for the kids stuff and mementos). I had listed stuff online but it was too slow of a process. We have what we need and keep things simple. I used to get hung up on the perfect sofa or perfect lamp. No more.

    I feel like this is everyone rebelling against the super consumption of the 80s and 90s.

  18. Lucy Chen
    Lucy Chen says:

    I love throwing things out, too. I took the opportunity to give away or throw away things when we moved in May. But there are still things that are stored in the garage, simply because I haven’t found the time and energy to deliver them to the local library or “thrift shop”.

    Hey Penelope, since you’re interested in drug dealers as good entrepreneurs, I think you will like James Altucher’s interview with Rick Ross.

  19. MBL
    MBL says:

    Oh how I cringed when I saw that “Tidying” book mentioned. I think the author tidied up by discarding her thesaurus as she uses some form of “tidy” a dozen or more times per page, and they are little pages. I tidied up by returning it to the library unfinished.

    I just wasted more time with the book by looking into to it again thinking I may have missed something. I didn’t. There are a billion 5 star reviews on amazon and that is great for them, but the 1 star reviews captured my thoughts beautifully.

    The book may be good for someone who wants to remain or become OCD and live alone or with other people who like to talk to their socks (not a metaphor.) Or if you are good at skimming and can get past her dreadful writing style.

    Before purchasing, I recommend going to the tidying up site and reading the excerpt. Just reading the table of contents gives me the willies, but if it works for you then that is awesome! I remember being appalled at how she would stealthily “tidy up” her family’s things in a manner that I regard as stealing.

    She is a “one size fits all” person and I just don’t buy into that. When I am in a minimalist’s house I feel really uneasy and wonder where they actually “live.” But again, if it makes them happy I am all for it. Because I don’t think everyone can or should be the same.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      The 1 star reviews were so amusing I went back for more.

      “This audio book would be fantastic for college drinking games. Every time you hear the word “tidy” or, worse, “tydying” take a drink. And you’ll need a drink to get through the first chapter”

      • Amy A
        Amy A says:

        Is that due to poor translating?

        Yes, the good and bad reviews and the hype made me not want to read the book at first. (Eventually, I read it and liked it.)

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          It could be. But I had a visceral dislike of the style and repetition and “if you don’t do it exactly as I say you will fail.” I understand that many, many people love it and I decided that maybe it was just me and was surprised at the number of reviews that conveyed exactly my reaction.

          I am sensitive to translation and will never, ever read a Garnett translation of Tolstoy. Ever. However, the repetition coupled with the attitude and apparent neurosis make me think it wasn’t just a translation issue.

          It could be that many of the things that are novel to most readers were not new to me (even thanking and saying good-bye to items!) so I didn’t have an epiphany. I can see how that could make a difference. That is why I recommended checking out the excerpt.

          I am so glad that you had such great luck with the book!

          • Amy A
            Amy A says:

            Oh. I totally get you here. Well, not totally. I am not an advanced reader. But I am picking up what you are putting down.

            The book didn’t really teach me anything new either. I already do some of the suggestions. I did like the reminder to appeciate my space. (As a matter of fact, I wrote a blog post about this reminder. It is called “Appreciation versus Gratitude & A New Attitude”.)

            I won’t be folding my socks etc. any differently on account of reading the book. But my definition of fun is reading about all this stuff. If it isn’t fun for the reader, I wouldn’t read the book if I were them–which applies to a lot of things in life. (That you didn’t bother finishing it makes total sense.)

  20. jessica
    jessica says:

    One thing: your walls are super empty. Do you have pictures of the kids and family around?

  21. mh
    mh says:

    Send me the books. They’ll be out of your house, and I’ll enjoy them. Please and thank you.

  22. Lucie
    Lucie says:

    I love Kondo’s book! Like many people, I felt so overwhelmed by my stuff. Everywhere I looked, cupboards were overflowing with things that were just taking energy away from me. And the things that I was using on a daily basis were just lying around everywhere because there was no cupboard space for them. Like many people, I thought I needed better (and more) storage. Kondo comes in with the brutal truth, “You don’t need better storage, you need less stuff!”

    It’s been liberating in so many ways to throw things away. Unwanted presents from my mother used to make me feel guilty every time I looked at them because she had spent her money & I wasn’t using those things. So I said thank you for the intention of gifting me something, and I threw them away.

    I definitely relate to you saying piles of books were like to-do lists nagging me from the corner. “I should read this one day, it will be good for my career blablabla”. I traded in two big boxes of books on Amazon and got £120 back. Win on all fronts! I gave another pile of books to a charity shop. Now I look at my bookshelf and I feel joy instead of guilt.

    It sounds crazy that inanimate objects around the house could bring up so many negative emotions, but it really brought me so much relief to get rid of things. It really is a life-changing book!

  23. Verónica Díaz
    Verónica Díaz says:

    OMG Penelope! So.. Does this mean I’m not crazy?! I find throwing stuff out so therapeutic.. And I get really cranky when I don’t have the chance to do it and things pile up. I constantly get rid of toys my daughters don’t really play with. I didn’t even keep their first shoes or baby outfits. Collect memories, not things. That’s my philosophy.

  24. Derek Scruggs
    Derek Scruggs says:

    My mom was a major pack rat, so I vowed I would never let that happen to me. My ex-wife had pack-rat tendencies that I tolerated, but after we split up I adopted a clear-the-clutter mentality that’s still with me six years later. I toss out things about once a month.

    Several years ago I realized I would never buy another CD, and that I would never re-read most of my books. So I moved my CDs to iTunes and donated them to the library. I also donated most of my books, keeping 30 or so that I thought I might re-read or which represent happy memories for me.

    • Amy A
      Amy A says:

      I have done almost the same things you mention.

      I have less than 30 books (as do my kids): for reference and ones I will read several times. I use the library all the time–including for CDs, DVDs and to borrow Marie Kondo’s book which I almost didn’t read because of the reviews. But it turned out to be a fun and inspiring read.

      I love decluttering and simplifying, and reading about it. I read minimalism, simplifying, and capsule wardrobe blogs often.

      I would say I am a version of a minimalist. But my home is very lived in with the kids around. We own only what we love and use. I don’t have any photos hung up (My kids and I see each other all the time in real life). My walls have one mirror and an art piece I love which my brother painted, and then some miscellaneous notes, a few cards the kids made and we each have a calendar.

      My dishes are minimal which I love: less dishes piled in the sink. We reuse our own cups.

      My schedule, obligations and commitments are about as minimal as I can make them. It is awesome.

      Besides my (functional and daily-used) furniture, I could fit all of my own stuff in my car trunk. For some reason, just knowing that makes me feel like I can do anything.

      It also is nice to no longer fear losing my stuff (or even my car dying) as I feared in the past. What Lucie said about throwing [or giving] things away is right-on.

      My kids are pretty minimal too, probably because they’ve experienced how freeing it is.

      Here is an article sort of on this topic:
      “The Cloud Generation No Longer Buys the Things”
      thevoc.al/the-cloud-generation-no-longer-buys-all-the-things/

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      High P here, and major thrower-outer. I’ve never had emotional attachment to stuff, I’m not an OCD neat freak, but I do like the mental cleanliness of not having to worry about excess things. I read the Don Aslett decluttering books 25 years ago and have never looked back. If you haven’t read them they are fun, funny, and huge motivators if Kondo isn’t your style (although I like Kondo’s book too).

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Joyce, thanks so much for posting that link. It was hilarious. I absolutely think you are right about P vs J. Having a bunch of stuff that can be turned into other stuff is invigorating (to a degree.)

      While reading that exchange, I confirmed that I find it much more visually jarring to be in a minimalist environment. When I see clean, clear spaces every little thing that is out or place really jumps out. If stuff is everywhere then it all kind of blends. I get the heeby jeebies (sp?) imaging someone cooking in a pristine kitchen, or leaving a non-matching book or magazine lying around a sparse living room.

      In the letter exchange that you linked to, I found the photo of that sideboard behemoth to be much harder to look at than the sock drawer or study. The fact that it was so out of place and ill-proportioned were highlighted by the fact that there was nothing on or around it. It really needed an ottoman or stack of books to hide the clunky back legs. I can’t imagine how the whole thing actually looks in the space since only 2/3rds of it is shown.

      But I digress! Thanks for sharing!

    • Joyce
      Joyce says:

      I organized my closet two days ago and just read the ebook yesterday. I was happy to read it but throwing things away fills me with dread. I hope I can do this.

  25. Heitem Ak
    Heitem Ak says:

    Very creative article!

    I ‘m the type to keep a load of unnecessary things in my wardrobe. Need to change that bad habit now!

    Keep them coming!

    Heitem Ak

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I have a lot of stupid clothing that I keep. I notice that I am not as smart about clothes as I am, say, about interior design. So I have the hardest time throwing out clothing because I am never certain of my decision.

      Penelope

  26. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I’ve been employing a similar method lately. My father bought a new house and left most of his stuff in the old house, which I am renting from him. He’s left me with the task of sorting through nearly 30 years of junk and memories, and it’s been difficult to get rid of some items.

    Fortunately I have a decent camera, and have cleared a spot on a wall for a backdrop to showcase the items which need to be purged. I believe that in the future I’d rather have 100 jpg images than 100 old pairs of roller skates that fit nobody, duplicate kitchen gadgets, and stuffed animals I barely remember taking up space in the closets.

  27. Evelyn
    Evelyn says:

    I’m almost finished reading it as well. I look at my closet and all I want to do is purge. Get rid of unused clothes, that I move from bin to closet and then back to bins. Not really giving me joy. I want to go through the entire house and hold in my hands things that give me joy.

  28. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    I feel the same about your writing. Sometimes I hate it and I love it and I get so much out of it and I’m argumentative while reading it and I’m trying to find myself in the exceptions when you’re writing generalisms but hate that I’m not special.

    And I’ve vowed to just not read your blogs anymore but parts of me just can’t stay away. Because it lets me see parts of me I didn’t know where there. Even if they don’t fit in the pristine imagine I have of myself.

    Oh and I like empty drawers too. It’s almost like that feeling of an empty stomach before you’re too hungry on a Sunday morning. You don’t want fill it up and feel packed and sluggish but what other way is there to do brunch but to get a little buzzed and have something with lots of fat and tons of protein while chatting with a good friend?

    I love Marie Kondo’s way and I haven’t even read the book. Just lots of “articles” online that are paid by the way so they’re filled with fluff to make them way longer than they need to be.

    But I love it because I can part with what I am sentimental about. I love to thank it for the good times. I part with things that never made me feel that great and it’s almost like releasing insecurities and sad days of feeling fat and invisible.

    And maybe you don’t need to stress about keeping books you love because they do bring a lot of joy. And that’s what this is about. Just keep what brings joy.

    I think that this blog(s) brings joy. Almost like the way picking at a scan does. But most days is like looking in he mirror and being surprised that you look outside exactly how you think of yourself in the inside.

    That day is a good day.

    So I keep reading the blogs and I just don’t read anything else. I need empty shelf space in my head you know?

  29. Laura
    Laura says:

    For people who move a lot like me, throwing things is a necessity, nothing to do with therapy, but with the limitations of the suitcase. Unfortunately “the other ones” don’t see it this way.
    Training my husband to live a non-cluttered life is my next goal.

  30. Jana
    Jana says:

    I love Marie Kondo’s mindset. I get all my books at the library and that forces me to read or return. I never saved that much but her book helped me let go of more stuff.

  31. Maya S
    Maya S says:

    Just blogged about this book — or being 43rd(!) on the waitlist for it at the library — with some thoughts about the “real” life-changing magic. (A clean house is nice, but that’s not it.)

  32. Lo
    Lo says:

    (sigh) I love your blog. Reading your articles is like a treat for me. I can really relate to this article as I have mounting piles of books that just become ‘things to do.’ I agree that it’s so important to de-clutter but I also believe in storing, reusing, and recycling so sometimes you shouldn’t throw everything away.

    These book reviews were so interesting that I want to read all of them! Also, loved your previous article with the yoga pix…keep ’em coming, Penelope :)

  33. Aimee
    Aimee says:

    I’m so glad you blogged about this, Penelope! How’s that for synchronicity–I am nearly finished reading this book, too, and my husband and I tackled our clothes this past weekend. I kid you not, eight hours spent of just tidying our clothes/closets. It feels fantastic to rid ourselves of things that no longer bring us joy and even better knowing that these things will bring someone else joy now (we’re donating all of the garbage bags we filled). The book seems like common sense, but the method to her madness truly seems to work. We could not believe the amount of clothes we’ve accumulated over the years and we’re just in our late 20’s. It’s such a liberating feeling. Can’t wait to continue on with the order of tidying next weekend!

  34. Lydia McD
    Lydia McD says:

    I ordered The Life Changing Magic book as soon as I was done with your blog here (and after reading the first few reviews on Amazon). I just finished it about three minutes ago, and I have to agree it’s incredible, as well as exactly what I need in my life. Thanks so much for the recommendation.

  35. Skyway Mom
    Skyway Mom says:

    I’m giving a presentation tomorrow on minimalism. Life coaches and productivity gurus often ignore “stuff” as an important category in our lives like family, friends, career, faith, or self care. Additionally, I never see “downsize material possessions” as a tip to being more focused and productive, yet it has worked wonders for me. I had to revise the presentation after seeing this post. Thank you!

  36. Erin
    Erin says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you….I feel so free to throw it away. I have been notorious for throwing out things that later may have been important but I would always challenge that it can’t be that important; we didn’t die. I have thought it was OCD or German roots but I love clear counter tops and open spaces. It inspires me and keeps me calm. It also reminds me of my favorite leadership book, “The Tao of Leadership.” A true leader sees the space in and around the vase; not just the vase. Although, I may have gotten a divorce simply because I needed clean counter tops.

  37. Alan
    Alan says:

    Tools. Every one that you sell off is like losing a finger. It’s one – a hundred – things that you used to be able to do and you can’t do any more. I just bought a saw for one job I couldn’t do without it. I could sell it back but why? There are so many things that I got rid of that I had to buy again.

    Today I heard the best, prettiest sax solo I ever played. I don’t have that saxophone any more and I could never buy another like it. You can’t just go to Sears and buy a saxophone, or a violin, or a piano.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      You only sell the things that don’t bring you joy. So you wouldn’t sell your sax or your tools.

      The book is not “if you don’t use it, dump it.”

      That’s every other book on organizing.

    • Amy A
      Amy A says:

      Ellen, Penelope posted pics of her books here:

      blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/03/07/beware-of-leo-babautas-minimalist-lifestyle/

      (The piles of books kept on the floor: doesn’t that attract bugs?)

  38. Yaiza
    Yaiza says:

    Five months ago we (my husband, baby, and I) moved overseas to start a new life. It was exciting and it has been amazing so far. But we decided not to bring anything with us other than what fitted into our luggage. It was a hard step, specially leaving all my books! so I can totally relate to you in that area. I absolute love books but they are also very heavy so they were a “no can do” item or the move.
    But with my books, the ones I really cared for, I did not donated it them randomly. I gave them to people I knew were going to enjoy them. It made me feel better to know they will be read again.
    I also have an nook, but I don’t know. There is something especial about a paper book. I like how they smell and how they feel. It is jut not the same to snuggle under a blanket on a rainy day with my e-reader, it is still nice, but not the same :)

  39. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    I’ve read the tidying book, and we have started letting go of things that do not spark joy. The author is obsessed, and has been since she was 5 years old. I think she is with us on the spectrum, because normal people don’t think like that. I appreciated her sharing her journey so that we can understand the thought process she went through to arrive at her ideas. She is like Temperence leading cows to the slaughter–only she is leading us to a clean house. She uses cognitive linguistics to get you to look at the process differently. I love that. We are just finishing books and working on papers. I used to get anxiety about throwing things out or giving them away or selling them. Now I am keeping the joyful things.

  40. Alan
    Alan says:

    Not to be critical, because I fight with this too, but…

    If you’re a guy, you have a lot of tools. And you can’t cull your tools because they are your capability. If you throw out your screwdriver you can’t hardly do anything any more, it’s like losing your hands. I made it to the age of 64 before needing a miter saw but when I needed it I needed it. And oh, they do need to be quickly accessible because when you’re doing something you have to be doing it.

    Quite a bit of what I’ve sold off, I’ve had to go out and buy again.

  41. Xing
    Xing says:

    Why not hold a random giveaway for all the books you read, loved, and found helpful? And when they’ve finished reading it, they can probably hold their own little giveaways. It’s like the sisterhood of traveling pants, but with books.

  42. Diana Hill
    Diana Hill says:

    Love your post! It’s so full of meaning . I’m moving in the middle of the next month and it’s time for me to declutter right now. The good thing is I don’t have too much stuff, but the bad is I’m not sure from where to begin. Few friends told me very good things about the book of Mary Kondo, just like your sayings about it. I think it’s time for me to read it finally.Thank you for the good advises!

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