It was with immense excitement that I ordered Marie Kondo’s newest book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. After all, it’s been a year since I wrote about her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and put it to the test in my own home.
Turns out, my post on whether her Konmari method of decluttering will work specifically for parents ended up being one of the most popular posts of 2015 on Cool Mom Picks.
I guess “tidying” is a hot topic among us parents. Go figure.
As for Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy, while the book didn’t disappoint, it also doesn’t feel as revolutionary as her original. But it did reinforce for me the drive to keep my house organized using the Konmari Method, which is more or less the point.
So if you’re wondering whether you need it, here are my thoughts.
The first thing that you need to know is that Spark Joy is not meant to be a stand-alone read for someone who is brand new to the Konmari method. It’s a companion book for people like me who already have the basic understanding of the principle of ridding your home of items that do not “spark joy” or serve an important need — but who may have gotten off to a roaring start and now need a gentle nudge to get back into the swing of tidying.
For that reason, I’d call Spark Joy essentially a how-to guide, organized into three parts, that answers questions leftover from the original book. It covers master tips, room-by-room advice on tidying up, and a promise of a better future.
Which is a pretty big promise, I know.
I found the first section to be a very helpful overview in clarifying how to decide if something brings me joy, even if it’s something kind of boring and utilitarian. In other words, don’t do what Kondo says she regrets doing and get rid of your vacuum because you don’t see the “joy” in vacuuming.
You need a vacuum!
Then, there are the rituals. In reading Kondo’s first book, I rolled my eyes at suggestions that I thank my wallet at the end of a long day, or let my clean socks “rest” in their drawer instead of balling them up. In Spark Joy, she continues these gentle reminders. For example, she counsels that we heap praise on an inanimate object, like a screwdriver, to “raise the joy level” of it. So you will either think that’s nuts or you won’t. But don’t judge quite so fast.
As odd as these suggestions may seem (and they do seem odd), there is something to her premise that makes me really see my possessions in a different way. That refocusing of my perspective has actually helped me better figure out what to hang onto.
I can walk through it! You wouldn’t even believe what my pre-Konmari garage looked like.
Part II contains The Tidying Encyclopedia, which is the meat of the book. You don’t really need to read this section until you are beginning the process of tidying any given room. But I think it will help a lot of us who read the first book and asked, But what about this? And how about this thing? And wait, what about this?
Here, Kondo goes through a home room by room, offering specific guidance on every little detail, like how to fold socks or ways to organize your pantry.
Instructions are easy to follow, and illustrated tutorials (like folding clothes, shown at very top) can be extremely helpful. Still, I admit I would have been more inspired seeing photographs of some “before and after” projects she’s done for clients, but those are all over the Internet if you want to find them. I think you’ll still get the gist with the illustrations.
Before and after Konmari: My jam-packed closet becomes an airy, organized one
Life Changing Magic is the name of the third section of the book, and herein is the big promise. This section sums up all the good things to come if you get your home in order, like better relationships with your loved ones — including, you know, kids who fold their own clothes.
(Warning: results may vary)
Overall, I find that in this book more than in her first, Kondo’s tone is more relaxed, probably as a result of people misinterpreting some of what she’s said in interviews over the past year. She injects humor like, “Even if you fail, don’t worry — your house won’t blow up,” which is nice to hear. But then, don’t we know that already? Well, maybe there are some people taking her original advice very, very literally. But I definitely get the sense she’s just covering her bases here.
When asked by a reader if it’s okay that she prefers to hang up her clothes rather than folding them into origami-like shapes, Kondo remarks that this is perfectly fine. (Phew! Global crisis averted.)
She also now encourages readers more specifically to hold onto things they love, even if they are frivolous or have no real use and I think that was an essential point of contention and confusion with her original book.
She also tries to make it clear that a tidy home doesn’t necessarily mean a home without lots of stuff in it, which is an essential distinction. I think that will also be a relief to those of us parents who have plenty we can’t get rid of because, well, kids have lots of stuff. And we’re not about to toss all of their favorite toys just for the sake of a magazine-perfect children’s room.
I will admit that for me, reading Spark Joy wasn’t as life changing as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Nor is it supposed to be. What it is, is a useful refresher course on her expert tips that did in fact spur me into action and I think a lot of you will feel the same way.
So in that sense, I’d say Marie Kondo’s companion book did its job. And I have a remarkably clean garage to prove it.
Now, if only I can get her to release a third book like, oh, How to Konmari with a Toddler: Learning to Live with the Life-Changing Messes Only a 2 Year Old Can Make. Anyone with me here?
If you’re new to the Konmari method, check out our original post on, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing to see if it’s right for you. You’ll find Marie Kondo’s latest book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, at our affiliate Amazon or in your local bookstore.