Decluttering Books: Personalizing the KonMari Method

Alright. So last week I talked about Marie Kondo’s advice for decluttering books and how I’ve used it to reduce my collection. Today we’ll talk about how I’ve personalized her method.

Kondo says in Life-Changing Magic that you shouldn’t change her method to suit yourself, and I disagree with her there. Always customize self-help books’ advice to you as needed. However, I say that with a little bit of reluctance in this case because I think many people don’t give Kondo’s ideas a fair shot.

But all the same, she’s an expert, not a god. So as with recipes, I subscribe to the “try the advice and then change it as needed” approach.

With books, I depart from Kondo’s philosophy on two main points.

You Can Read If It Helps

First, Kondo says that you shouldn’t evaluate books by reading them, mainly because you don’t want to get distracted. However, I did open up and read random excerpts. I felt like I saved time because I didn’t spend more than a minute or so on each book, plus the reading made me sure of my choices. If I felt myself getting sucked in, then I knew the book sparked joy. If I didn’t, then I could let it go.

This was especially true in the case of racist children’s books. I had some books like Peter Pan that I knew were problematic and have been meaning to go through, yet I felt some conflict over whether to keep them because I had (highly privileged) feelings of nostalgia for the not-racist parts.

So I opened such books up randomly and scanned the pages to see how I felt about the book now. The result: I decided the books were awful. Actually reading snippets of them again killed my nostalgia because oh my goodness.

I understand why Kondo warns against reading because it could derail the project, but for me, doing so was effective. The excerpts not only taught me what books sparked joy but also helped rehabilitate my sentimentality.

You Can Split Up Sets

Kondo says you can evaluate a series all at once. And while in general I do like to keep a whole series together, I did split some series up.

For example, while I had all the books in the Artemis Fowl series, I realized that I don’t remember or care what happened after book five. In my brain, that’s where the series should have ended. I love the earlier books, but they can stand on their own.

Similarly, I got rid of my copy of The Cursed Child. I pre-ordered it so I could read it right away, but it turned out to be more like meh fanfiction than a continuation of a beloved series. And I’m done keeping it just because it’s a Harry Potter thing.

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll talk about book donation. In the meantime, tell me — how have you personalized the KonMari method?

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