two books on decluttering

Posted on September 21st, 2015 by mountain girl  |  9 Comments »


I finished these two books last week. I have to say, they gave me a kick in the you-know-what. Even before reading them, though, I was somehow bitten by the decluttering bug.  I found these books at my local libraries, and they helped me on my way and offered some direction in my rabid cleaning frenzy.

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay is a thorough, room-by-room instructive by a minimalist. She has a fairly standard outlook on decluttering–little tips like getting rid of one thing a day, etc.  The book is inspiring, but also repetitive, and for me, it got a little old by the end. But if you like step-by-step instructions as you clean and organize, I could see this book being very helpful.

I really loved The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  It is thought provoking and oh-so very Japanese. The author is interesting and I like her tone–steady and sensible–unlike The Joy of Less, where virtually every paragraph includes an exclamation mark. (I have a pet peeve with too many excited exclamation marks.)


I have to be truthful about The Life-Changing Magic and say some of the author’s views left me questioning her rational integrity. I mean, she talks to her house, to her clothes, to all her possessions–greeting them, thanking them, releasing them to a happy life as she passes them on to someone else. It’s a little strange, even for me. But it also made the book more interesting.

Kondo has a very positive, if somewhat ruthless, view of decluttering.  Instead of focusing on what to get rid of, she looks for what to keep–only those things, she says, that give you a “spark of joy.”

She also talks about the “magic” that happens when you declutter the right way, which should be done in one fell swoop–not a thing a day, not a room here or there, but a “tidying marathon”  (she says it usually takes around six months). She talks about the changes in your mindset when your cluttered house quickly becomes spacious, open, and clear even in the hidden places–a change, she says, that makes the difference in your thinking that allows your house to stay clean ever after, rather than eventually becoming cluttered again.  Which I know sounds a little ridiculous, but hey, I’m willing to give it a try.

And so far, it might actually be working for us. I have the main floor of our house about finished–living room, kitchen, laundry room, coat closet.  I’m talking every every book and magazine examined for its worth (and several boxes donated to the library), every kitchen drawer, cabinet, and cupboard pared down to minimum, every extra cup measure and spatula culled, all the expired non-perishables thrown away (that I didn’t think I had, LOL), my old Vitamix finally listed and sold (in a day!) and so on. Old jars I was saving for years, because you know–I might need them someday. We took boxes and boxes of stuff out the door to Goodwill and the trash–stuff I doubt we will ever miss.

It’s been really fun, and of course a lot of work. I love the way our house feels–even though most of it was “organized” and tucked away, getting rid of all that really makes a difference.  So much done, and still a lot more to go. 🙂

9 Responses to “two books on decluttering”

  1. Carie says on :

    I’ve just started trying Marie Kondo’s method – I’ve done clothes – and it’s been great, especially the new folding method which has been fantastic for being able to see all the children’s clothes at once! Next stop the laundry cupboard and then books, which I might have to film just for the comedy value!

  2. mountain girl says on :

    Yeah, I wish I had before and after pics of all the books and also our measuring spoon drawer in the kitchen–good idea to video your process! I’m doing the folding method with my clothes, too. 🙂

  3. Karen says on :

    I just finished reading Marie Kondo’s book a few days ago! I’m with you, I had a hard time with the part about talking to things. But she has some great ideas, including her folding method and also her point about putting things away after you’re done with them. That’s my biggest problem. I am really trying to do better on that little point.

  4. mountain girl says on :

    Yes, I like that point, too. I’m doing pretty good with putting things back, now that there is actually very little clutter around and whatever I leave out makes a big difference.

  5. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says on :

    Okay, so I had the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in my hands while at Costco a couple weeks ago. I almost bought it. Some of the parts I skimmed looked brutal (i.e. take everything out of your clothes closet, anything you don’t take out gets thrown out) but it seemed very interesting.

    I’m all about cleaning and organizing right now… it must be the fall hibernation thing.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. mountain girl says on :

    Hey it’s good to hear from you, stranger! I feel the same way about organizing in the fall, along with way too many projects calling my name. 🙂

  7. Jennifer Miller says on :

    I have a home care client in N Boulder who just read a book like that and keeps forgetting to send me the link. She has been going through her rooms and I’ve been delivering boxes of stuff to the thrift store every week! I should get on it now that my daughter has gone back to preschool and I’ve got some time.

  8. mountain girl says on :

    Are you tempted to look through those boxes to see if there is anything good? I used to be a total thrift store/garage sale hunter before I read this book. Actually, I still have to fight the urge and remind myself how much work it is to get rid of stuff once you have it. 🙂

  9. Carlin says on :

    i had to chuckle, i was a little taken back by some of her ideas at first too – like that my socks want to be rolled!, but the overall idea definitely held the most reward for us. it’s crazy how holding onto things really affects us (or me at least), and once things were gone it all felt sooo good. awesome to see you are enjoying it. 🙂