Spark Joy: Reading Report and Review

My home, my room, and my office are a mess

This results in my mind and my thoughts reflecting the mess that surrounds me on a daily basis.

Whenever I go to work, the clutter on my desk stresses me out even before my day ‘officially’ begins. When I come home from a long day from work, the last thing I want to do is clean, but the clothes scattered about combined with the pieces of unidentified paper compels me to spend at least 15 minutes tidying up my space.  

Decluttering and tidying the KonMari method may be my only hope for my problem.

What is “spark joy” by Marie Kondo

I received the book, “spark joy” from one of my best friends as a be-lated Christmas gift. Both of us share the love of personal development, lifestyle, and sustainability which is why she knew that I wanted nothing more than to learn more about the KonMari method. She gifted me “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “spark joy”.  

While I have been making strides to declutter and become more minimalistic, I still have a long way to go. 

“spark joy” is the sequel of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. On the cover it’s described as, “an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up”, but in the simplest terms it’s an overview of what was discussed in the previous book with images and examples of concepts.  

What I’ve heard from others who share my passion for decluttering and personal development is that you are supposed to read this book as well as it’s prequel together. You read one chapter of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and THEN you read “spark joy”. Personally I haven’t tried this out, but I’ll add an update here if I ever do decide to give this a try.

What I learned from spark joy

How to fold and store stuff

The second part of the book titled, “the tidying encyclopedia” has descriptions and visual references onto the folding and storage of objects from all the tidying categories. While in the first book does go into how to store your things after going through the most critical phase of the MariKondo method which is decluttering, that storage section never was clear to me.

The method in which Marie described how to fold and store objects such as shirts and sweaters was something I struggled visualizing in my mind in her first book, so having this second book in which every different kind of object, fabric, and material was described and even illustrated was immensely helpful.

For those who are unaware. Marie Kondo is all about folding and storing things side by side as opposed to piling stuff such as shirts and pants on top of one another. There’s two reasons for this way of storage.

  • 1. It allows you to quickly see everything at a glance. You can see all your clothes and/or objects side by side. Otherwise, if you stack everything on top of one another, you risk the chance of not being able to see everything you have.

  • 2. Marie Kondo says that the clothes themselves lose some of their luster if their crushed by the weight of other fabrics. By storing everything side by side, nothing gets crushed or overpowered. Everything is treat equally and this in turn will enhance the look and feel of your stuff.

 

Enjoy what you own

Another big part of this book discussed the komono (miscellaneous) category of things.

There’s a huge emphasis on decluttering and discarding all throughout Marie Kondo’s book, but the category of komono (miscellaneous) goes into detail about the importance of keeping objects that bring you joy, even if they don’t serve a greater purpose.

  • A great example was in the section titled, “Save Your Cosplay for Indoors”, in which Marie has a client that has an outfit that she adores, but it’s not something she would use frequently outdoors due to how flashy it appears. So while most organizational experts would suggest discarding it, Marie Kondo encourages that her client keep it and wear it at home, no matter how silly it may seem. Your home is your sanctuary and if wearing it makes her client happy, then why not?  

This concept of embracing what makes you happy and surrounding yourself with what brings you joy is something that was refreshing to read. I’ve been going down the minimalist path for a while and the thought of reducing the amount of things I own has brought me equal parts joy and stress. I own lots of things, and having the concept of keeping even the seemingly ‘useless’ stuff if it brings me joy reinforced is comforting.

  • Another example that was brought up was postcards. Most of the time they are kept in a box hidden away, but if the postcards bring you joy, then they should be displayed. Some places Marie suggests are the walls of your closet since they tend to be under utilized, or having a ‘power corner’ in which you dedicate a space to create a shrine full of things you love.

What I liked about spark joy

I enjoyed the hand drawn aesthetic of the illustrations.

Masako Inoue did an amazing job when it came to illustrating “spark joy”. All of her drawings are done in a simplified and cute style that is pleasing to the eye yet is clear enough to show what instructions are for folding and storing. The pale blue colors that accompany the illustrations are a nice touch and provide just enough to give an extra ‘pop’ to the pictures without appearing too cluttered or overpowering. After all Marie Kondo’s book has such a relaxing and calming feel to it when you are reading that I think bright vibrant colors would clash horribly.

The tone of “spark joy” is non-judgmental

There’s something I do not like about the online world of decluttering and minimalism. There seems to be an elitist attitude among the crowd to see who could be the number #1 minimalist or who could be most sustainable. There are several YouTubers that while I enjoyed their content, their side comments that feel almost judgmental turn me off completely.

I love how Marie Kondo understands that each individual who picks up her book are at various stages of their ‘decluttering’ life. Some are experts who just need to have some quick references as a refresher, while others have no clue how to declutter and only know that they want to get more organized with their stuff. 

The tone of the words of the page never made me feel judged for having one too many unidentified wires in my junk drawers. All I felt was acceptance and inspiration coming from the words on the printed page and I appreciate that.

 

I love Marie’s relationship with stuff

While this final ‘like’ does not pertain to the book itself, as you read “spark joy”, you’ll experience the way that Marie Kondo personifies all the objects in her mind. Each object as a personality, a purpose, and a way of being. A toothbrush is not just a toothbrush. A teddy bear isn’t just a stuffed animal. These objects each have their characteristics and purpose that she points out and describes.

Growing up with animated shows in which objects get personified (think Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast), the concept of objects having their own personalities has always made me smile. Even before reading “spark joy” there are several objects I either name, speak to, or do both with. My car for example is called “Lady” while my nameless MacBook Pro and I have been known to have our agreements and disagreements.

This way of viewing the world makes every single object precious. I love that Marie Kondo has this view on the world and that she is fearless in sharing this belief with the world. It takes a lot of imagination, creativity, and bravery to tell others that their toothbrush isn’t just something that cleans their teeth and needs to be treated with respect.

What I didn’t like about spark joy

The ‘ideal’ method of reading

The fact that some people have told me that the ideal way of reading it is switching between the two books is a bit startling. I’m the kind of person who reads a book in its entirety before going onto the next one. While I cannot verify at the moment whether or not this is the case, I’m not too happy that conceptually I need to carry two books around to get the maximum benefit.

Implementing spark joy in my life

I read “spark joy” while on a plane. Due to this I have only grasped the concepts of the book and haven’t been able to implement any of the concepts into my life since reading it.

However my closet at home already has my sweaters and t-shirts stored in the ‘ideal’ way described in this book. Once I get home, I could use the illustrations to fold the articles of clothing better so they stand properly and not look as if I’m trying to shove everything together.

I also need to complete the decluttering phase in its entirety before I really get serious about storage. However knowing all the tips and tricks in the second section of the book is going to help me manage some of the messy spots in my home till I can schedule a ‘decluttering’ session with myself. 

Resources for Spark Joy

If you are interested in learning more about spark joy and the concepts discussed in the book, here are a few resources to help you out: