After kicking off the New Year with some unseasonable warmth in the northeast, Old Man Winter showed up with bells on! January brought two intense winter storms, most recently a full-blown blizzard with unbelievably cold temps. Thankfully, my family and friends are all safe and sound and the weather seems to be tipping back toward normal over the next week or so.
As inconvenient as they are, snowstorms really aren’t all bad. They mean time to snuggle up and read or catch up on some TV. For me, that meant enjoying more of Marie Kondo’s new series on Netflix about tidying up your home and sparking joy. It has become a show I look forward to watching, but it has also recently sparked some controversy…
I think by now just about everyone in the bookish community has heard about Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo’s approach to tidying up your home is that everything in your home should spark joy when you look at it, hold it, etc. Sounds simple, right? Well, truthfully, it is. I’ve utilized some of Kondo’s techniques in my own home, and I’ve found them quite successful. Just re-folding my clothes using her method has made a huge difference! But clothes are one thing and books are another. Recently, Kondo sparked controversy among bibliophiles when she suggested that you should have a maximum of 30 books in your house. Say WHAAAT?!?!?!
Kondo’s take on tidying has a lot to do with de-cluttering. It’s not just about making sure to hold onto what sparks joy but being sure you toss the things that don’t. Recently, a firestorm of outrage blazed across social media when Kondo suggested keeping no more than thirty books in your home to prevent clutter. This was interpreted by many as the equivalent to Kondo declaring war on reading, readers, books, literacy, and writers all in one.
Here’s my take on it: Kondo offers advice on keeping your home tidy and de-cluttered. It’s what she does. It’s her job. It’s why you read her books and watch her show. So when she makes the suggestion that you limit the number of books in your home to keep it tidy, you have a choice: follow her instructions or don’t. It’s your choice! Kondo is not forcing anyone to throw out their books or judging those who have more than 30 books in their homes. She’s simply offering advice based on how she has learned to keep things clean, tidy, and de-cluttered. Feel free to disagree with her, but don’t judge her or criticize her for doing what you asked her to do – sharing her methods of keeping things tidy.
Amidst the anger and outrage over the “no more than thirty books” suggestion, Kondo’s primary message seems to have gotten lost. Remember, you are supposed to keep things that spark joy – including books! I have well over 30 books in my home. In fact, I have over 30 on the bookshelf featured in this post, and that is only ONE bookshelf. I have many more 🙂 I have a room which I call the library because it is a quiet room lined with bookshelves and has a comfy chair where I can sit and get lost in books. My bookshelves are not cluttered or untidy. In fact, they may very well be the most organized part of my house! I feel joy just sitting in this room surrounded by my books.
I have books that I haven’t read yet but am excited to read. I have books that I picked up on my journey back to school a few years ago which spark joy because they remind me of that adventure and all that I accomplished. I have books from when I was a child, pre-teen, and teen. These are the books that sparked my love of reading, and I feel immense joy when I look at them and remember hours of staying up past my bedtime to read one more chapter. I have an entire shelf dedicated to Harry Potter, and if you need a reminder of why that series is so special to me, you can visit this past post.
Do I have more than 30 books in my home? Yes. Are they cluttering up my home? No. Do they spark joy for me? Absolutely.
So there’s my take: the books stay. I do go through my shelves periodically to pull out any that I’ve finally read and don’t plan to read again. I love donating books to the library and the Goodwill so others can enjoy them after I’m done with them. But my core collection remains with me. I think Marie Kondo would be okay with that. But more importantly, I am okay with that. And that’s really the heart of the matter here – your home should make you happy. What others think of your home doesn’t really matter. Someone may walk into my library and be shocked over the number of books I own. I may walk into someone else’s house and be shocked over the number of baseball cards, vinyl albums, or figurines they own. It doesn’t mean any one of our homes is “right” while the other is “wrong.” Don’t worry about what others keep in their homes as long as yours brings you joy.