Book Reviews

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up Review (yes, there is a manga!)

They remember me at my previous office as the girl who left with four boxes full of my belongings. Plus the two boxes I left there with a “Take what you want” note.

My cubicle’s drawers might have been bigger on the inside because they stored an impossible amount of junk, – you know, things I kept there for years “in case I needed them”? Like old Bic pens with leaked ink and a broken hole punch that only worked if a heavy person sat on it.

So even though my cubicle looked tidy, it was secretly a mess. A year later I found myself in a similar situation again when I moved to a new house. I needed two cars to carry the contents of my closet, bookshelves and desk only (leaked ink pens included). There wasn’t even a piece of furniture in there, only the small things.

That was the moment that made me consider I was hoarding too much stuff.

Too bad I hadn’t heard about The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up before moving out! I honestly think that it would have made my moving experiences way easier. And slightly less embarrassing.

Before starting my review I want to clarify: there are two versions of this Tidying Up book. The first one is the original book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

The second one, the one I read, is The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story. This is a graphic novelization of the first book.

So, in other words, this second book is the same thing but with drawings. (And it was written by the same author).

In this story we follow Chiaki, a twenty-nine years old with a very cluttered apartment (and life). Hmmm, talk about connecting with a character.

So one day Chiaki hires Marie Kondo, the famous tidying consultant, to help her declutter her apartment. And the rest of the book is about Chiaki learning the “KonMari” tidying method and the impact it has in her life.

  • It’s a visual summary of the “Konmari Method”.

    In the original book Marie Kondo explains her tidying strategy, which she calls the Konmari method. In the manga, Marie herself is one of the characters and she teaches her method to Chiaki in the course of ten days/chapters. At the end of each chapter, Chiaki has learned one lesson and we get to read a summary of what we went through in that chapter to take action.

    I also liked that each chapter focused on a different step of tidying, from getting in the right mindset to actually storing things. Some chapters were dedicated to specific kinds of clutter, like decluttering books, papers, clothes, etc.

  • And the method actually worked for me!

    One of my favorite chapters was #3 Finish Discarding First, in which Marie advises Chiaki to throw out -or donate- the things she doesn’t want to keep. The focus is not “What to throw away” but “What do I want to keep?”. And it’s such a simple thing but this actually worked for me, especially when cleaning my closet. I sometimes keep clothes I never wear because when I see them I think “this is not old/stained/ugly enough to be thrown out“. After Marie’s advice, I cleaned my closet and focused on the things I like and need.

    In the end, my closet only has things that I actually wear, and so far it’s been nice wearing more cute clothes around the house. 🙂

    Also, I had two boxes in my closet dedicated to “just because” trinkets, like used batteries, spare buttons and old keychains. I almost kept my collection of spare buttons but Marie specifically mentioned in the manga “Have you ever replaced one button that came off?”. So… I threw them out. I did keep a few trinkets because they were gifts from friends and I really wanted to keep them.

  • It has some tips to become more organized.

    I’m not sure if the original book has illustrations, but the manga has very cute pages with storage tips like how to fold clothes and how to store important papers. As visual learner I loved these little guides! I kept adding pointers to the pages that inspired me to organize my room, so I can find them easily the next time I’m cleaning.

  • The “Does this spark joy?” thing.

    So, this is the most famous quote from the book, and I get where it comes from but… it still was a little too spiritual for me. In the chapters about choosing the stuff you want to keep, Marie advises to hold every object in your hands and ask yourself “does this spark joy?”. If it does, you get to keep it. If not, you should throw it out. (Of course this doesn’t apply to things you actually need to keep in order to live like a civilized human).

    This process also involves thanking the things for their service. Like showing your gratefulness to a sweater for keeping you warm. Or saying good-bye to an old pair of shoes and thanking them for protecting your feet. I know that showing gratefulness to your everyday tools is something they do in Japan (Marie Kondo is Japanese), but I didn’t find these bits useful. 

    However, I am grateful for the things I have and when my room is neat and clean it actually brings me joy, so I get how some people might appreciate this side of the book. Also, though joy is the basis of the Konmari method, this spiritual side can be totally ignored and the book would still be useful and en-joy-able. 😉

    On the other hand, you could acknowledge these parts but tone them down a little as I did. So instead of saying “Does this t-shirt spark joy?” you could say “Is this cute enough to keep?” or “Would I wear this t-shirt in front of people?”. Whatever works for you!

  • You have a cluttered room, house or office and want inspiration to declutter
  • You have a bunch of clothes you haven’t worn in more than a year
  • You have Bic pens with leaked ink in some drawer
  • You like reading tips about cleaning and storage
  • You want to have a more minimalistic space

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondō.

Paperback. 182 pages. Published July 4th 2017 by Ten Speed Press.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Thank you! I was actually going to buy it myself, hehe. It was really useful, inspiring and cute! I wish it was available in Spanish so I could get one for my little sister.

Let me know if you read it and what you thought about it! 😀

This article has 2 comments

  1. Kyla

    I had no idea that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up came in manga-form! My mom gifted me that book not too long ago and it really inspired me to change the way I view organizing and moving my view into “what should I keep?”. I really want to check out the manga though – the illustrations look adorable.

    • Celeste

      If you liked the book you should totally get the manga :D, it’s the same thing but summarized with drawings, which is really helpful if you want to refresh what you learned!

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