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Book Club Kits: The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up

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Book Summary

  • Presents a guide to cleaning and organizing a living space, discussing best methods for decluttering and the impact that an organized home can have on mood and physical and mental health.
  • This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you find to be the hardest part of keeping a tidy house?



  1. How do you think that the KonMari Method would work for you?



  1. Do you agree with Kondo’s statement, “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set?”  (pg. 16)



  1. Kondo strongly believes that starting with mementos sets one up for failure due to emotional, functional, informational, and rarity value.  Can you recall a time where you started cleaning and became distracted?



  1. Do you find that throwing out papers is easy or hard?  Why did you think Kondo believes that you should throw all papers away outside of what she mentions in the book?



  1. Are there clothes to this day that you have still yet to detag?  What keeps you from detagging them?



  1. Kondo says the real reason we can’t let something go is an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.  Do you find this to be the case with yourself?



  1. After reading this book, do you believe that your life will change for the better after tidying?  In what ways do you believe so?  Would you recommend the KonMari Method to friends and family? 




More Discussion Questions

1.    Kondo states, “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” Do you think this statement is true? Why or why not?

2.    One of the author’s main points in the first chapter is that “a messy room equals a messy mind.” Do you notice a change in your feelings before and after cleaning? Do you see a correlation between the tidiness of your space and your sense of well-being?

3.    The author discusses emotional value in chapter two. What category holds the most emotional value for you? Is this also the hardest category for you to part with? Why?

4.    Papers, we all have them! The author makes it clear that there is nothing more annoying that papers. “They will never inspire joy, no matter how carefully you keep them. For this reason, she recommends you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.” Do you find that you have more papers than you should? 

5.    Towards the end of chapter three, the author speaks of discarding mementos, are you scared of undergoing this process?

6.    The author’s main theme in her method is to use your feelings as the standard for decision making. Do you think this is a smart method for tidying? Why?

7.    The author uses a number of clients throughout the book. Can you relate to any of them? How does reading about their successes influence yours?

8.    How has the magic effect of tidying changed your life?

9.    How do you identify what is truly precious?



Questions from People to People International’s Global Book Club

Author Interview

Author Interview with Marie Kondo by Kate Storey of Good Housekeeping on April 29, 2016

Marie Kondo's husband just threw her under the bus.

It's a recent Monday afternoon and is hanging out with Kondo, her husband Takumi Kawahara, and a translator, when we ask whether the de-cluttering guru has any secret indulgences.

In Marie Kondo's first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, now a worldwide bestseller, the decluttering guru advises her followers to get rid of items that don't spark joy. She even recommends tossing grungy sweats in favor of items that make you feel happy when lounging around the house — for her, that means soft, pretty loungewear.

But, at the very end of the book, Kondo admits she has a freebie T-shirt from a 2005 expo that she can't bear to part with: "This T-shirt sticks out like a sore thumb among all my graceful, feminine clothes," she writes.

Now, knitting her brow over the question about whether she ever cheats on her own advice, Kondo says, "Besides that T-shirt, I wonder what I have…" From reading about her strict method, which includes figuring out a home for every belonging you have — including stuff from your purse, which should be emptied out every day — it's hard to imagine Kondo throwing caution to the wind.

But her husband leans forward and chimes in in Japanese, reminding his wife of a secret deviance. Kondo lets out a quiet laugh. "So…I have this stuffed seal," she says, smiling. "It's very small. It was a gift from my father, and even though I'm an adult, I still keep it on my shelf. It's something I can't part with!"

Kondo has gained a cult-like following since that first book came out in 2011. In January, she released her second guide, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, which focuses on her precise folding methods, and she has a TV show coming out May 6, in which she travels to the U.S. to help American families with their messes.

"Seeing that my book has become such a worldwide phenomenon, I became really interested in tackling the issues of cleaning and organizing in countries other than Japan," Kondo says. "So, this time, [I thought] America would be great. I wanted to expand my horizons."

Kondo says the biggest difference she's found in American families is the amount of toys they keep in the house. And she says that, in some cases, a home will look tidy upon arrival, because many American homes are large enough to hide away the mess — but once she looks closer, she realizes they needed the same amount of organizing as smaller Japanese homes she's worked in.

But what if you're not lucky enough to marry someone with whom you groove — tidying-up wise?

"In that case, I think it is important that you focus on your own personal items — focus on yourself before you diversify your attention to your family members," she says. "In regards to things your husband loves, even if you hate that item, you cannot disregard them without his permission."

Though Kondo's transition into cohabitation was a simple one, she says life with her daughter, born last year, has been tougher.


"Spatially, it was a big challenge after I gave birth to my baby," says Kondo, who lives in Tokyo. "Of course, Japanese houses are much smaller than what you see in America — so, a lot of clothes and diapers and things like that. Storage space became a big challenge."

Kondo says she plans to teach her daughter her KonMari organization method when she turns 3. But, in the meantime, the new mom is just trying not to sweat the small stuff.

She smoothes her pale blue dress and says: "I think I became more forgiving after my baby was born, especially because I'm so much more limited in time and [given] the sheer number of things that increase."