BOOK REVIEW: the life-changing magic of tidying up

Book Reviews

Review of the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. If you prefer video, a link to my video review is at the end of this article.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge reader, so I thought I’d give Marie Kondo’s book, “the life-changing magic of tidying up” a try. Ever since starting my weight-loss journey, I’ve been trying to improve my life in other areas as well. And tidiness is something I’ve always wanted to have in my life, but I could never quite get there. 

I would tidy up, but then things would get messy again. I’d get holes in my jeans, and keep them but not wear them. Because hey – I can use them when mowing the lawn! So I thought this book could help. And because of this book I threw out nine pairs of jeans with holes in them! Now the young folks might like that look, but it’s not for me. So I’m glad they are gone.

So first, I’ll give you an overview of the book, and then I’ll give you my thoughts.


The introduction starts off with a bang. Marie Kondo grabbed my attention right away with a vision of life that was SO enticing to me. This is what she said:

When you’ve finished putting your house in order, your life will change dramatically. Once you have experienced what it’s like to have an ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten. Never again will you revert to clutter. This is what I call the magic of tidying. And the effects are stupendous. Not only will you never be messy again, but you’ll get a new start on life. This is the magic I want to share with as many people as possible.

Wow. Never revert to clutter? Is that even possible? What about the fact that I live with four other people? How can this be? It’s certainly something I wanted, so I definitely kept reading.

CHAPTER 1 – Why Can’t I Keep my House in Order?

Marie Kondo promises that a house cleaned out and tidied by her method results in more than just a tidy house – it results in a new lifestyle. Even for someone who is lazy or sloppy by nature. I’m not sloppy but I definitely can be lazy.

She suggests tidying your house in one go. But that doesn’t mean in one day. She means over a short period of time, like several months. And once the task is done, it’s done and your life will be different. That’s Marie Kondo’s promise, not mine.

In this chapter she covers some methods other people have used to tidy like storage solutions and tidying by location, and why they don’t work. Which is funny because those are things that so many people suggest to tidy.

She says to tidy by category, starting with discarding first, then moving on to storing.

She says “Tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” Wow – don’t do it every day?. She says it should just be done once. Well… the big tidy up should only be done once. Daily tidying consists of using something and then putting it back in its place. I don’t know if that’s really tidying.

CHAPTER 2 – Finish Discarding First

Marie Kondo says the transforming your room completely changes the scenery in your room but also in your mind:

“When you tidy your space completely, you transform the scenery. The change is so profound that you feel as if you are living in a totally different world. This deeply affects your mind and inspires a strong aversion to reverting to your previously cluttered state. The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart.”

I said before I’ve been reading lots of self-improvement material. Lots of self-improvement stuff on habits and goals and stuff. And there’s definitely a pattern emerging. MINDSET. It’s all up here, in your head. What do you want, what’s important to you, and what are you going to do to get it? In terms of this book, Marie Kondo wants you to ask why you are reading it. What motivated the need for tidying in the first place? What do you hope to gain? Think it through carefully. Visualize  the ideal lifestyle. This helps you not to rebound. Not to go back to a messy life.

“Think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.”

Think in detail about the life you want at home and the space you live it in.

“As you continue to explore the reasons behind your ideal lifestyle, you will come to a simple realization. The whole point in both discarding and keeping things is to be happy. It may seem obvious, but is important to experience this realization for yourself and let it sink into your heart.”

She talks about deciding on what to keep. Not on what to throw away. Only keep the stuff that sparks joy. Probably Marie Kondo’s most famous words are: “Does it spark joy?” If it does, keep it, if not, why bother keeping it – it’s time to discard it.

She talks about how to do that. The logistics. The order. Dealing with items that used to spark joy. Dealing with sentimental items. All of that in just this chapter. Nice stuff!

CHAPTER 3 – Tidying by category works like magic

In this chapter she talks tidying by category. And even into subcategories, like which clothing types to do first.

A big part of her method is about easing you into the decision making process. It can be hard to get rid of things that you have owned for a long time. Which is why she recommends going through personal sentimental items last.

Next she talks about how to fold and store your clothing. She has very specific ideas on how to store your items in your drawers.

In this chapter she also goes through items of other types as well, like books and papers. And she has suggestions for how to store what you keep.

She doesn’t forget sentimental items. You don’t need to throw everything away! But she has a great method for going through your sentimental items and deciding on how to keep them.

She says that the more you discard, the better you become at it. The decision centers in your brain will get better at making the right decisions easier and faster. Which is one of the reasons why sentimental items go last – you don’t want to throw out something you’ll regret.

“As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you will suddenly know how much is right for you.”

CHAPTER 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine

Chapter 4 is all about storing the things you’ve decided to keep. The basic point is to designate a spot for everything, so that when something needs to be put away, it’s done easily without thought. The old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place” comes to mind.

Marie likes putting bookcases in closets, and where before there never used to be room, now there will be after all the tidying.

She feels that once you’re done tidying, you’ll be left with only the amount that fits perfectly into the space you own.

She only has two rules: store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space. Also, she believes that everyone in a family should have their own storage spaces. So when you begin tidying, there is a temptation to start with things that belong to the whole household. But leave those for later. First, start by sorting only your own things.

The chapter also gives lots of practical advice about spaces and storage, like bathtubs, floor space in closets, bags, new items you bring home, etc.

CHAPTER 5. The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life.

After you tidy your house, what’s left can give you an indication of what is important to you. This often happens, and focuses people on what they realize is important to them.

Letting go of things in your life is even more important than adding.

Marie Kondo has found that when people genuinely clean their homes, that they are personally dramatically altered. One of the changes is your decision-making capacity, because you had to make a decision about every item in your house.

This chapter also includes some other life advice related to the home and tidying. Like greeting your house every time you come home. She also thinks that objects that don’t spark joy in you actually want to leave, which I find a little weird, but ok! She goes even further by saying that items you discard come back to you in a different guise – a different item. Even kinda weirder. But if it makes you feel okay with tossing things, then who am I to say?

On a more practical level, she finds her clients come to know contentment through the process. Their worldly desires have decreased, and their desire to own less, but higher quality, items has increased.

“If you think that tidying is something that must be done every day, if you think it is something that you will need to do all your life, it is time to wake up. I swear to you that tidying can be done thoroughly and quickly, all in one go. The only tasks that you will need to continue for the rest of your life are those of choosing what to keep and what to discard and of caring for the things you decide to keep. You can put your house in order now, once and forever. The only ones who need to spend their lives, year in and year out, thinking about tidying are people like me who find joy in it and who are passionate about using tidying to make the world a better place. As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”


Is this an easy read? Yes, it’s is definitely an easy ready. First of all, it’s not a long book, so that alone should help you get through it. And secondly, it’s a breeze to get through. It doesn’t bog down and there’s always something new to learn. It was kinda strange that as I started to read it I thought she already had said everything she needed to say in the first two chapters. But as I kept reading I discovered a lot more. So stick with it.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I’d recommend it. I just borrowed it from the library and I’m not sure if you need more than that. I just wrote down a few key points and that, I think is good enough for me. Especially because I don’t want to clutter my home! But if you want to buy it and give it away, that’s an awesome way to do it too.


If you liked this review, check out my other reviews as well and my YouTube channel. I also have an Instagram account you might like – henningjhoffmann. Check it out if you feel like it.

Here is my video review: