Readers' Favorite

July 22, 2015


by Kathleen M. Barker

Most authors I know are also voracious readers.  We love beautifully crafted words that paint rich tapestries.  Yet life intrudes, in the form of jobs, families, and the day-to-day minutia that consumes us, leaving little time for us to pursue our own writing much less enjoy that of others.

I tend to get involved in books that are series, most recently Diana Gabaldon's Outlander (2004, Dell, Amazon).  After devouring roughly ten thousand pages, I felt lost when the most recent book ended.  Stories on a grand scale are what I want most, and my next reading project is Winston Graham's Poldark (2009, Sourcebooks Landmark, Amazon).  I'll let you know when I resurface from the complete 12-book narrative.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
Needing a short fix while waiting for the Amazon Stork to Prime-drop Poldark, I discovered an unlikely candidate:  Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014, Ten Speed Press, Amazon).  How on earth could a cleaning book make the New York Times' best seller list?  Why would anyone want to spend more time than necessary on cleaning, much less read about how someone else does?  There had to be a reason.

I have not finished testing her methods yet, but Kondo's weird little ideas are resonating with readers who have adopted her mantra that the things you own must give you happiness.  If they don't, you should get rid of them.  As I begin my journey of shedding decades of accumulated "stuff", I find myself happier.  Gone are the categories of clothing that were jammed in my closet...the fat clothing, the perfect size clothing (which is never quite achieved), and the sentimental items that haven't been worn since college.

Kondo's description of her younger self sounds downright obsessive-compulsive, as she searched to fine-tune her skills.  Her near-desperation feels foreign to the possession-loving Western world.  Yet it is these very things that make us dread the cleaning and organizing that those ever-growing amounts require.  It made me think of comedian George Carlin's routine about organizing our "stuff" so that we could make enough room to go out and buy more "stuff".

As a cleaning consultant in Japan, Ms. Kondo has lists of clients who wait breathlessly for their turn to secure her guidance in their own homes.  I WILL eventually reach my goal of possessions that spark joy, but I cannot do it all in one fell swoop as she recommends.  A dark 18th century Englishman from Cornwall beckons, promising his own sort of joy, and I'm answering his call first.  

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