Does The KonMari Method of Tidying Work For The Avid Reader?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Paper Bindings | Does The KonMari Method of Tidying Work For The Avid Reader?

Hi, my name is Carrie and I am a book hoarder.

If you saw my recent post about my updated (though, now happily out of date) bookshelves then you know all about my problem.

Over the years my shelves have changed a lot, and the amount of books I purchased has grown exponentially. I've gone through cycles where the amount of money I can spend on books has waned and waxed, but my collection has never really decreased.

All of this reflection led me to understand several key aspects about myself:
  • Reading books makes me happy - Not just temporary "I'm in the reading zone" happy but in a "reading keeps me sane" kind of way.
  • Buying books makes me happy - This is where the roots my book buying addiction can be found. I can't solve all the problems in my life by myself, or even at all, but I've found a way to increase the goodness in my life just a little.
  • Looking at books makes me happy - I love to wander library and book stores and just absorb all the books. I love redoing my personal bookshelves and showing off my collection to others.
  • My state of mind is dramatically influenced by my environment - Messes and clutter and trash brings out my crazy OCD side and I have neurotic panic attacks. (Seriously, just ask my coworkers what happened the time I found something rotting at my station from another employee(s) who couldn't clean up after themselves.) 
  • Stacks of books on the floor makes things feel hopeless - I'm not a piles of books everywhere kind of girl. Everything must have a home or I start feeling anxious and claustrophobic. 
  • Double stacking books makes me cringe - ...and feel even more like a hoarder. I don't want to have that much stuff that I cannot possible show everything off nicely. Who wants to move clutter before taking bookstagram pictures anyways?

RELATED: Ten Easy Steps For A Book Purge (2015) | #Shelfie Time! A Shameless Look At The Evolution of My Shelves (2016) | A Quick Look At My Unread TBR And The Truth About Being A Book Hoarder (2016)

I decided to get my life into focus and clean house.

I have too much stuff, I admit it. Craft stuff I'll never use again. Books I'll never even read once. Random knickknacks I bought for random reasons.

You name it, I probably have it.

Everyone kept talking Marie Kondo and the KonMari method of house cleaning and organization. I had not head of this book or method once when the hype first appeared. But lately, I kept seeing pictures on Instagram, tweets on Twitter, and random conversations in real life.

But it wasn't until I saw the before and after images of someone cleaning their bookshelves off following her advice that I decided to give it a try.

What is the KonMari method?

Paper Bindings | Does The KonMari Method of Tidying Work For The Avid Reader? | ★★★ Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Author: Marie Kondō Release Date: October 14th 2014 Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Author: Marie Kondō
Release Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Ten Speed Press

"Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results."

I thought the book was interesting. There was a lot of helpful advice thrown in there, but there was also a lot that left me thinking "not doing that."

Essentially, the KonMari Method:
  • Has you purge items one category at a time - All your clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items. By working on a category at one time, you are forced to pull all the items together and don't leave the junk in another room for another day. 
  • Has you take a look at each item, asking if it brings joy into your life - If it does, keep it. If not, toss it. There's no middle ground here.
  • Wants you to focus on only having items that bring you happiness and not clogging your space up with ones that don't - No one needs to hang onto something that upsets them to look at.

But does the KonMari method work for the avid reader?

No, I don't think it does, at least not as effectively as it might for a casual reader or someone who only wishes they read books.

According to Marie Kondo's advice, you should get rid of all conference materials, all those "someday" I'll travel here books, books you have outgrown, books you will never reread, and all of those books you have not read yet. 

Some great advice there, but that last one is the kicker. She goes on to give examples and even says her personal collection always stays about 30 books. As a book blogger, I've gotten a lot of books as trades, given books as gifts, and purchased a lot of books.

I am surrounded by books. 30 books will never happen.

When I became a blogger, I've expanded the sphere of books I've had access to. 
  • I found new authors.
  • I found new series to read while I'm waiting on books from my current ones.
  • My favorite authors wrote new books.
  • The genres of books I was exposed to grew.
  • I was introduced to YA.
  • I joined the library.
  • I learned about book sales and book events.
  • I got memberships with my book stores.
Once upon a time I was big into movies and television. Once upon a time I was a big gamer. Now I'm a big reader. Blogging is my chief hobby. Unless I have a neurotic breakdown and toss all my books away, it is never going to be practical for me to get my collection down to that scant number.

That said, I did learn a few key ideas that I put into action as I worked my way through the book category while following the KonMari method of cleaning my house.
  • Gather all your books together in one place. ALL OF THEM. This really helped me to see what I was working with and make sure I only filled the space I had when I was putting them back. 
  • Sort your books. I put them in genre categories as best I could with the space I had. I didn't shelf them that way, but this let me get all my series together. 
  • Look at it each book. Don't read it. But get a feel for it. Do you even remember it? If you haven't read it, can you see yourself reading it? If you have read it, are you ever going to reread it?

So what other advice have I found that works?

But even with my modified KonMari way of thinking, it wasn't enough. I still needed to check Goodreads ratings, look at friend's reviews, and ask Twitter for help. (Thank you Nori and Angel for letting me harass you guys with "what about these guys?" questions all day.)

Nori gave me the following advice, and it might be the best advice I've gotten for getting rid of books: 

(From our actual Twitter DM conversation,)

Look at all of the books you're unsure about. 

Put them into the following piles 
1. Books you've already read 
2. Books you barely remember the synopsis of 
3. Books you aren't super excited about 
4. Books you wish u could keep Bc u are interested in them but u just don't have room

Then she gave me the hard truth:

I think u should get rid of the first three piles

After that she said to:

And look on goodreads and see 2 particular ratings. 
1. The overall rating 
2. The friend rating 

If any of the books are below 3.5 stars for either, then I think your decision is made

The only other advice I have to share was something I started doing with my unread books.

Read the first page of the book.
If you are not hooked with that one page, then the book fails the test and you should get rid of it. Pretend you are a publisher, if you want, and you are looking for the next greatest book. 

Sure, some books get better as they go along. But if you're downing in unread books, do you really want to waste your time on a book that didn't capture your attention from the start?

How do you decide which books to giveaway and which books to keep? Have you tried the KonMari Method yourself? What were your results?


  1. I just wrote a blog post about giving away all the books I have. I still buy books when the need arises, but then Ill give it away once Immfinished reading. I use the library chiefly.

    Tanya Patrice

    1. The post sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. I used to use the library more often, but now it is just not as close to get to for the amount I usually read.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  2. Omg the even IDEA of getting rid of books MAKES ME TERRIFIED. *runs away screaming* My parentals would be 100% on board with me getting rid of books. -_- But eh no. I want to keep them all. How am I going to have a library like Neil Gaiman's unless I keep all my books?!? (Seriously go google his library if you haven't, IT IS DIVINE AND IT IS MY GOAL.) Ahem. But I mean, if I ever move house I probably will get rid of problem is I would give them away but postage. Ugh. It's just ridiculous. Ahem. But I anyway! I admire people who are organised and okay to get rid of books. (And I also relate to the "books keep me sane/happy" feeling you have. ME TOO. I honestly can't describe the happiness I have to just stare at lots of books. :')

    1. *googles Neil Gaiman's library*
      *stares at the screen for five minutes*
      *more staring*

      That's really cool. I could live without the head on the wall though. I'd say trade with people but most of the good traders I know of are US and that would be expensive for you to ship.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  3. Oh hell, no way am I even going to attempt this. I have worked really hard to expand my home "library" why would I want to thin it out. I'll just buy more bookshelves. I like that you made an honest effort and are motivated enough to actually try to apply this in your home.
    I recently read a book that is a parody retort to this Kon Mari Method; The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place. It made me feel a lot better about my "problem" with book hoarding.

    Oh, just so you know, I found you via a Goodreads group. I really like your site. New fan (aka stalker)!

    1. The KonMari method is a scary thing for readers. How could one part with the fragments of their souls? That parody sounds interesting. I'll have to google it.

      Super glad you found us via Goodreads. Thank you for visiting!

  4. I recently got rid of a lot of my physical books, keeping only my favorites and most likely to reads; but my Kindle is a mess.

    My Most Recent Discussion: Make New Friends, but Keep the Old: ReReading

    1. My Kindle and Nook were messes at the start of the year. I basically went through and deleted all but 20, read a few I really wanted to read, then deleted the rest. Because you don't see them, it is way too easy to lose control of them.

      Thank you for stopping by.


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