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Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Tidying books: Life-changing magic or mundane activity?

Tidying books can be a task filled with pleasure, if you have the time. Or, it could get really overwhelming! For me, one of the pleasures of reorganising my bookshelf is stumbling upon books that I have forgotten. It is something akin running into an old friend. I take it as one of the indulgences of decluttering. However, the danger of ‘wasting’ time remains. Moreover, you may just get so lost in your old books that you might just ignore the task at hand.

The book, Spark Joy by Marie Kondo offers a ‘life-changing’ way of tidying up. Well, this includes tidying books as well. For the uninitiated, Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionized homes and lives. In Spark Joy, she provides advice on specific categories and this includes a section on tidying books as well.

Here are some thoughts on what we have gleaned from the chapter on tidying books from the book:


Why discard?

In essence, the book believes that one must only keep things that spark joy. If something does not spark joy for you now, it never will and you need to ‘thank’ the object and discard it. People don’t discard books since they might want to read it again.

But, as Kondo says, “But if a book doesn’t spark joy for you now, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll never read it again some other day,”. The lesson? Get rid of all books that don’t spark joy, and that you have read half way or not read at all.

What happens when you discard?

Now this is something I find quite interesting and poignant. She writes in the book….

“When you’re left with only those books that you love, you’ll discover that the quality of information you receive changes noticeably. The room you make by discarding books seems to create space for an equivalent volume of new information. You’ll soon see that the information you need comes just when you need it, and when it does, you’ll find that you respond to it immediately in a new pattern of behavior that wasn’t possible when you were hoarding books and neglecting the information they contained,”.

Now that’s food for thought!

Tidying books

Tidying books: the process


Kondo recommends taking every single book off the shelves and piling them on the floor. Then, one must pick them one by one, hold the books in the hand, and keep only those that spark joy. She cautions against staring to read them at that time!


Specific book categories
If you have a series of comics/books you could decide if the entire series sparks joy or not. With respect to magazines, Kondo suggests setting a limit on maximum number of issues you can keep.

Storing books attractively

Kondo recommends standing up the books rather than stacking them in a pile. Books could be kept category-wise. It is also fine to keep them where they are used- for example, cooking books in the kitchen.


Do you match the books you have kept?

I find this aspect of the chapter really interesting. Kondo writes,

“The energy of the book titles and the words inside them are very powerful. In Japan, we say that “words make our reality”. The words we see and with which we come into contact tend to bring about the events of the same nature. In that sense, you will become the person who matches the books you have kept. What kind of books would you want in your bookcase to reflect the kind of person you aspire to be? If you choose which books to keep on that basis, you may find that the course of events in your life changes dramatically”.


Well, I never really looked at tidying books with this angle before. But, who knows? Books are known to change lives…


Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.