The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The life-changing magic of tidying upYou, guys! I almost never blog about books, but I loved this so much that I just had to share The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Like most books I read, I heard about this one through my friend Elise. (Haha—seriously, Elise, I am trying to think of a book I’ve read in the last few years that wasn’t on your recommendation!) I picked it up before a weeklong family vacation in hopes that it would inspire me to declutter my home before moving.

It’s so annoying to me when I spend time (and money!) moving things to our next space only to donate them because they don’t have a place.

This time, since our move is more substantial (bigger home and moving to a new state), I felt it was more important than ever to detox our belongings before we start boxing everything up.

I plowed through this book on family vacation (I think it only took me three-ish days to read), and it definitely inspired me to go home and start cleaning out our belongings, with a new perspective.

Here’s my basic review—

-I love how this author has a fresh perspective! We’ve all heard the cleaning rules such as, “If you haven’t worn it for a year, it’s time to let go.” I have tried for years to minimize my belongings based on rules like that and I have made some progress, but for some reason, this book inspired me to come home and clean out my (already recently cleaned out) closet, and I was finally able to cut my clothing in half.

There were so many things that I was holding onto for various reasons that Marie Kondo’s “does it spark joy?” motto inspired me to let go of.

For me, her method works. No doubt about it.

-OK, so if you pick this book up after reading my recommendation (you totally should!), there are a couple things I want to warn you about. One is that the book starts slow. I wasn’t into it until around page 30 and then it really picked up for me. The other thing is that there are parts of it that are too extreme for me (and I’m assuming would be too extreme for a lot of people).

For example, Kondo strongly recommends that you empty out your purse and put everything away in its designated place at the end of each day (…”& for that reason I’m out”). Also, there are some parts that encourage talking to your belongings and your home…eek! A bit too much for me.

With that said, I still got SO much out of the book and her methods. If you struggle to detox your home, I highly recommend this book. It was an easy, fast read and inspired me to clean RIGHT AWAY. 🙂

Grab the book here—The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I’m off to tidy up…haha! Happy weekend -Elsie

  • Hello! I am an admin of The Konmari Method group on facebook and have been looking for a photo of this book in a pretty setup to add to a post in the group. Yours is beautiful. Is it OK to borrow it for the purpose? I will be linking the photo source of course 🙂

  • I read the book. I think the best thing that I got from it was the idea of not keeping things that weren’t adding to my life at all. I took about a Uhaul full of stuff to the Goodwill. I giggled at your Shark Tank reference. When I was irritated with the concept of talking to objects, my husband had a different perspective. He told me thank thanking objects, is not for the object, but for yourself. I’ve loved your pictures of the Habitat for Humanity House. It looks awesome, you really did a great job. I’ve been really curious about the progress on Emma and Treys bar. I’d love an update. ??

  • Ahhh, see? I was super excited about this until the “emptying your purse at night and put everything in its designated place”. I live in a place where earthquakes happen, and usually at night, so I need to have everything in one place (my purse) if running out of the house in a hurry is necessary. I learned it the hard way, believe me! haha.

    Still, pretty cool book and glad you were able to put it to practice with so much success 😀

  • I’ve read and loved this book, too, but there were definitely parts (the same parts) that I would consider too extreme for me. I appreciated the majority of it, though.

  • I feel like this book has been everywhere lately!!! I tried to borrow it from the library in May but I’m still on the waitlist O.O

  • This is awesome! thanks for sharing. I have to pick this up, (I’m kind of a hoarder, lol)..

  • I loved this book and I just wanted to make the case for the unpacking your purse every day thing! I actually found that one of the least intimidating parts of the book because it was something I could do before I did the whoooooole big thing. I made it my goal for a single month and it actually was really simple and easy to do at night! I often had the problem of transferring stuff to other purses/work bags and then misplacing things or losing important receipts or keeping stupid receipts for way too long. So taking care of it each night worked really well for me. Totally worth committing to for a few weeks and seeing how it makes you feel! 🙂

    Also we did our closets/dressers about a month ago and OMG, they look amazing and are miraculously staying that way! It’s awesome.

  • I need to gift this to my mother and sister! They have serious issues cleaning out their stuff. Thanks for the review!


  • I actually really like the emptying my handbag when I get home…It means I feel free to change handbag almost every day and I never forget keys etc. I don’t talk to my belongings either but really love the ones which have survived the purge 🙂

  • Hej Elsie,

    thank you for your great blog post. You wrote so interesting about the book …
    that… I bought it on amazon in the german version after I read your post. 🙂
    Now Iam so excited to start reading and get rid of old stuff.

    Thanks a lot!!!

    The only problem I thought about is, what if my husband do not want to get rid of old stuff? He likes it to have soooo much things, but I can not breath…

    xo Karolin from Germany

  • I like the idea of throwing things out if they don’t provoke joy! But yeah, that part about putting stuff away from the purse? Never gonna happen. Sounds like a book worth reading, though. Thanks for the review!

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about this book and I will have to add it on my summer reading list 🙂

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about this book and I will have to add it on my summer reading list 🙂

  • I agree that there are somethings in the book that were too extreme. Umm, I’m never going to stop balling my socks and I tried rolling all my clothes, but I hated it so much that I didn’t put them away for two weeks! But overall, I did enjoy the premise. Less stuff is always better.

  • OMG, this is so weird. My friend just mentioned this book the other day to me and now you’re posting about it. That means I have to read it now haha.

  • This book resonated with me, even though a few things did seem far-out. The basic premise of keeping what “sparks joy” really works for me. I’m trying to work out how to apply it to my digital world as well as how to make it work in a family space.

  • I read this book in 90 minutes. It’s slim, for sure. There are a few good ideas here, but many of them are more suitable for someone living in Japan. That said, if you get only one good idea from this book, it’s worth it.
    As for the handbag reference in this post, she says to put your handbag stuff in one spot, not put it all away.
    I agree though that constantly refilling your handbag is not a good idea as inevitably something import gets missed.
    Readers should note that the author is a young, single, woman who does not have a family to mix into the equation. A great deal of her advice is about clothing.

  • I have heard about this book so much and I think now you’ve inspired me to actually read it. We just recently downsized and so we decluttered quite a bit–but still have two full storage units! EEK! So I need to make more progress with letting go of things. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • The “speaking to your possessions” part was weird for me too until I read that having a high-respect for one’s belongings and perceiving them as near-animate objects is a Japanese tradition. It explains a little, at least! That book truly was life-changing for me. I got rid of half my stuff! Still don’t fold my socks though 😉

  • I just purchased two, yes I said two, of these books. One for my sister and one for me. She has been living in the same house for about 30 years. She understands the word clutter. Me? I just moved and like you said I am finding myself getting rid of things I have moved. On Amazon I read the first few pages of the book and it was shouting my name. When I called my sister she wanted us to tidy up together. Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blogging on this book.

  • My spouse and I both read this book before beginning to pack for a big move from Connecticut to Indiana this summer. It helped so much! The ease of asking yourself her one simple, “does it spark joy” question made deciding what to keep and what to let go of so much easier. And I did the same thing, I cut my wardrobe by half and have kept up asking myself the joy question any time I consider bringing something new into my closet or my home. I agree that she lost me a bit at the end of the book, but I think it was primarily because the last two chapters certainly focused on techniques that are more in line with Japanese cultural norms than American ones. But it is interesting to read about no less!

  • Sounds like this book has been written just for me! We moved from a big housr to a small apartment a few years ago and I had to let go of many things. I made resolutions to never even get stuff I don’t need and to tidy up clothes and other stuff regularly. But now I still have too much of everything… Seems like I really need to get that book!

  • I loved the book and I also felt it has helped me think about my belongings in a different way. I’ve started to blog about it on my site as I go through the cleanse. I’ll be offering my own thoughts along the way as the whole process has been a real eye opener. It’s a lot of work and well worth the effort. I can definitely feel a difference already. Thanks for sharing!

  • I moved house in May and read the book beforehand. It was a life-saver! Seriously, I threw & gave away so much stuff and I’m so glad I didn’t have to put all that stuff into boxes.

    Originally, I got the book when it became clear that I’d be moving in with my boyfriend. I’m… kind of messy and he is very tidy and I really wanted to change that bit of me for him. I’d say thanks to the book things have certainly improved. 😉

    What I liked best about it was the “does it give you joy?”-approach. I had so many clothes I kept because of the sole reason that they were gifted to me. They were basically little guilt trips in my closet. Letting them go was so freeing!

    Now I’m planning to do another round of Kondo-like house cleaning in autumn. It’s kind of addicting.

  • I read this book and acted on it about six months ago. We’re still a work in progress, but it has helped in a way no other housework self-help book ever did (and I’ve read them ALL). My kitchen still gets messy, but now it takes me ten minutes to go from messy to presentable, instead of it being a job I dread that takes ages. Everything has its place and I have given away anything I don’t have room for in the kitchen. The same goes for my books and craft materials. Paper is more of a challenge (I run a business from home) but I’m getting there.

  • I did get it and loved most of it but couldn’t stand tee shirts ect on end because they would need ironing again be for you wore them I like mine nice and flat, maybe arrange them by colour.

  • I just completed the audible version of this book and totally agree with your review. It was very inspiring and her method made a lot of sense to me. However, there were certain aspects that I find would be hard to implement in my own life even though she insists it would work. But very inspiring nonetheless and I would definitely recommend it as well.

  • Wow this books sounds great, I really should buy it when I move back to Germany because it is absolutely impossible to move with all this stuff…
    xo Kristina

  • I bought this book before and am excited to start reading it. On another topic, I miss book club with you guys! Are you planning on restarting it soon? Happy Sunday!

  • It has been spoken of everywhere but I wasn’t sure of the full title.
    I used a few of her tips.
    Though my husband thought it was amusing when I said “does it spark joy”

  • This sounds like a terrific book and it is something I really struggle with, thanks for the recommendation!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • This book is awesome. I’ve spent this past week reading it and clearing out and will use the day tomorrow to recycle, donate, and throw away. I had no idea the amount of clothes and books (SO many books) that I could never part with until now. This book stuck and I feel so liberated. I’m freaking out over how good it feels. I’m with you on this, Elsie + Elise. I really highly recommend it!

  • Agreed about not wanting to talk to our stuff. That’s just weird. And the very idea of emptying out my purse every night and putting them into their designated spot only to put them back in my purse the next morning, is… Well, scary. There are some items which, their designated spot IS my purse. Like my keys. And my purse. I would not want to leave home and leave them behind in their so-called designated spots.
    I haven’t read the book yet but it’s on my TBR list for next month.

  • I heard about this book and ordered it to read on a weekend away. I’m now so inspired with her philosophy that I can’t wait to start, too! Thinking this will finally be my saving grace! :/)

  • I’ve heard so many good things about this book but haven’t gotten around to reading it myself! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s so beautiful… Haha I already have a habit of emptying out my bag when I get home (unless it’s my school bag. I always keep that one stocked) and I don’t even think about it! Talking to my things though… I think that’s a little too extreme for me too 😛 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • I’ve just finished reading this book not too long ago too! I’m in the process of detoxing my home! I’m done with clothes and books… I’m about to do papers! So many of them but I’m so excited! 😀

  • I read most of it recently and really enjoyed it. As many people mentioned, I like thinking about whether each item sparks joy.
    And I know it seems a bit hokey, but I liked the idea of thanking the items you decide to part with. Maybe not for everything, but I had a few sweaters I bought (on clearance) when I first moved to Alaska. I didn’t have a ton of clothing options and they kept me warm! But I never loved wearing them. Thanking them for getting me through that tough period helped me feel less guilty about donating them.

  • I am loving this book! I am also in the process of moving and not moving un-needed, items that don’t bring joy, will feel amazing!

  • I just read your blog and the book is now ordered. I have been trying to organize my home for years. This sounds so good. Thank you for sharing. LindaLee

  • I purchased this book a year ago and I highly recommend it. It has inspired me in so many ways…

  • I have GOT to read this! Forever disorganized- it’s like i’m a tornado in my own home.

  • I have to admit there is nothing in my purse that has a home in my home! I’m a wallet on a string kind of gal! There are so many things I could take away from this! I have struggled with clutter because I am the artistic type. The “does it spark joy” question makes me hopeful that it is ok to hold on to my Halloween decorations because that is exactly what they do! I don’t ever roll my eyes at them when I open the closet ? the other half however… ?

    I may be picking up a digital copy of this, you know, so I won’t have more clutter! ?

  • Hate to say this, but I strongly disliked and even disapproved of a lot of the stuff in this book. Especially bothersome to me was removing your family’s items without consulting them. It is SO disrespectful to throw away other people’s stuff. To me it is saying, “Your wishes and thoughts mean nothing to me, the only thing I care about is how my house looks. Your feelings aren’t important enough for me to consider or respect or care about.”

  • I absolutely love your honesty! I loved the book and we especially loved the clothing part – putting all the clothes out and really feeling each piece and being truthful about our feelings for them. But as you mentioned, some parts were a bit extreme, and I do love taking parts of a book that park for me and discarding those that don’t.

  • Yes!
    definitely i need this book
    I talked about her here

    I love tidy homes but i love acumulate too!

  • I’ve got this on my shelf, need to get reading before I clear the house before leaving to travel for a year!

  • My closet is incredible now. Room to breath — I just like opening the drawers to look at everything all folded nicely and in view. Can’t get rid of the books though, they are like stuffed animals for me… comfort and security.

  • Awww! This was like a perfect post for me! I too saw it on Elise’s reading recommendations and had it sitting in my wish list on Audible. I felt like it would be a good read, but some part of me was hesitant to give it a try. I just finished up my last book & had it on my todo list today to pick a new book for the week. Glad to hear you liked it! I guess I just needed one more push 🙂

  • I have heard so much good stuff about this book. Maybe it really is magic!

  • Elsie, have you read Do Less by Rachel Jonat? It’s very similar! All about de-cluttering your house and life. My boyfriend and I are doing some remodeling and taking the book to heart, clearing out all the stuff we don’t need/use in every room of the house. You’ll love it 🙂

  • Elsie, have you read Do Less by Rachel Jonat? It’s very similar! All about de-cluttering your house and life. My boyfriend and I are doing some remodeling and taking the book to heart, clearing out all the stuff we don’t need/use in every room of the house. You’ll love it 🙂

  • I read it and really enjoyed it, like you a few things were a little extreme for me. It has inspired me to clear some things out. I love the concept of working in themes rather than rooms!

  • Hmmmmm… you definitely piqued my interest. I might check it out. I don’t know how I feel about emptying my purse at the end of the day, but I am okay with talking to inanimate objects in my house. LOL

    Thanks for the recommendation. Books and restaurants — I hardly ever try any without someone raving about it first…

  • This sounds like such a great book, thanks for the recommendation! Adding it to my list of books to buy!

    Rae | Love from Berlin

  • Loved this book, too. Couldn’t agree more with your assessment. My biggest takeaway was to put all like things in one place. Sounds obvious but somehow it doesn’t seem to happen organically at my house. Doing this makes duplicates obvious and compulsive buying embarrassing.

  • Interesting to read your review of this book as I just finished reading it myself and have already begun sorting my clothes. Most of what the author states is doable, and motivating. I love your line about ‘detoxing your belongings before boxing up for your move’. 🙂 I did what I thought was a ‘downsize’ before my last move, yet still ended up with boxes of ‘stuff’ I don’t need. This book got me started on a new way to ‘tidy up’.

  • I’m all in with Marie Kondo and I do empty my purse every day and thank my belongings. The energy in my house is through the roof! This is a gratitude based method and her philosophy is something completely different from the usual decluttering drivel out there. I am so inspired by my house now, it feels welcoming and beautiful to me in a whole new way. Everything sparks joy or I don’t keep it. I have saved so much money bc I’m not buying stuff or shopping for joy. Try it, you’ll like it!

  • I’m currently reading this book and love the concept, although the way is written is a little annoying and some of the things she says are just a little crazy… like hanging clothes by type because it makes them feel happier to be together. Or not balling up your socks because they can’t rest that way… Because of those things I was making fun of it but then I was going through my makeup and just though ‘does this spark joy?’ when I looked at every piece and then somehow ended up with a third of my makeup gone (as a beauty blogger, that’s quite big for me). I can’t wait to try it in other places of my home!

  • I haven’t read the book yet but it sounds like it’s offering a more spiritual way of house cleaning. I can clean, but the problem I have is keeping things clean consistently. Maybe this book will help with this problem.

  • Loved this book. Only used it so far to get through my clothes, but man what a difference that one thing makes. I’m looking forward to using it on the rest of my familiy’s belongings. I see a lot of people commenting about her “extreme” and “way out there” ideas, but if you look at her deep background practicing Shinto and know anything about those beliefs, it’s really not that odd. It’s just a very Eastern way of thinking. It’s also easily adaptable. I can’t wait to get started on more.

  • My boss was raving about this book the other day, I think I need it in my life!

  • You know, I kind of like the part where she talks about communicating to her possessions 😛 Although I wouldn’t, I like the idea of someone taking the time to think about how much work things like shoes do and how lucky we are to be in a position to own them. It’s kind of sweet 🙂

  • Haha talking to your belongings! Right. I think I’ll stay with Unclutter Your Life… ˆˆ

  • I am currently reading and liking it but feel totally the same about the extreme parts as you do. One book that always got me to get rid of clutter is and always will be Karen Kingston´s Clear Your Clutter!

    It´s such an amazing and powerful book with lots of stories I can relate to!

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about this book so I downloaded a free sample and haven’t got any further. Thanks for mentioning that the first 30 pages or so are slow. That’s about all my free sample entails so that might be why I haven’t quite “gotten into it” yet.

  • Read this book on vacation and there are indeed so many great tips in there! I just got back and I got so inspired to clean out my closet and my stuff that I can’t wait to get started. Talking to my clothes and home, however, goes a bit too far for me too, haha 😉

  • This looks really interesting, I might give it a try, but the clean your purse every day is a bit too much for me as well!


  • Will be reading this book really soon! thanks for the review!

  • I bought this book immediately when I saw it recommended by Oh Happy Day on her Instagram feed. Loved it!
    I agree some of it is extreme. Can’t quite get my husband into the idea of holding each item to determine if it brings joy! But it did result in a huge load of donations and a trip to the dump.

  • Sounds like a great read! There is definitely a lot of power in ‘stuff’ and letting go of things can make such a difference in my mind! Have a great weekend.

  • I just finished doing this for my entire house. It feels so great! I have exactly just what I need and everything has a home and is labeled!

  • I just got this book too, in preparation for a substantial move. For is it’s major downsize, and I’m appreciating her method as I go minimal with our packing. I love hearing your thoughts!

  • Thanks for the recommendation! We have a move coming up too so this is good timing! 🙂 Plus, I always need a little encouragement to tidy up. 🙂

  • Oh, I’ve been wanting to pick up this book! I’m going through a break-up and am currently going through my belongings to move into my own place for the first time in six years (!!), so this book sounds like it would make the process extremely cathartic.

    On another note, I used to talk to objects like they were real when I was a kid and it’s a habit I’ve carried into adulthood, kind of like Bob does in Bob’s Burgers; I even do voices sometimes…it’s a wonder I’m single 😉

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  • I keep hearing about this book! I think I might have to add it to my list, although I’m not sure I want to be inspired to clean on this lazy Saturday haha. I know it would be good for me though, so I think I’ll go add it to my library waitlist card now. Thanks!

  • LOVED the book and was so happy to see you have read it recently too. I do love her perspective. The best advice for me was about gifts. They can become so cluttering but are hard to part with since loved ones gave them to us. Great book and great tips for a happy house 🙂

  • I bought this book a little while ago, but haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard such great things! I really need to get on it. I’m really to pare down our belongings to a more manageable level! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  • I loved this book too – the “does it spark joy” question is always in my mind when I’m decluttering and it always helps me to let go of things!

    Shell x

  • Hey Elsie! I also recently read this book (based on Elise’s recommendation) and agree 100% with you. Kondo does offer a fresh perspective, but there were parts of the book that were a bit too “hokey” for me, for lack of a better word. And this is coming from someone who considers herself fairly “new age,” haha. I definitely won’t touch all my belongings every day to communicate with them, but I do plan on following most of the recommendations as my husband and I are also planning a move in August.

    Loved hearing your thoughts!

    Sarah Alves

  • I just started reading this a few days ago and am loving it! So glad to hear you liked it and that her methods work!

  • I’ve been looking at this one for ages whenever I go in to the book store. It looked really interesting, and you’ve inspired me to pick it up! 🙂 We seem to always be a process of getting rid of extra items.

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