The breakout success of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and subsequent Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has sparked a huge interest in the topics of decluttering and minimalism. If you’ve enjoyed the television show, then I suggest your check out Kondo’s books but if you’ve already read Kondo’s books, you may be interested trying out some of the titles listed below.
The Year of Less by Canadian Cait Flanders is a memoir that follows the author as she attempts to overcome her compulsion to overindulge. While Flanders’ central focus is binge shopping, which she tackles with a self-imposed year-long shopping ban, she also veers into her issues with overeating, alcoholism and over-consumption of television. This is a personal story masquerading as a self-help book. It’s pretty self-indulgent and less of a ‘how-to’ and more of a ‘how-I-did’ but it was very interesting to see how everything came together for the author. It also served as a good reminder that it pays to be a mindful consumer, not just in terms of shopping but also what you physically consume and how you spend your time.
If you are primarily interested in Marie Kondo as a way to inspire you to improve your physical space, then you may want to check out Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff. This beautiful new coffee table/décor book is all about how you can embrace minimalism without turning your home into a sterile version of an Ikea showroom. Basically, it’s minimalism but with more throw blankets! Its visuals perfectly capture how ‘less is more’ in design but the author’s easy-going approach isn’t going to intimidate anyone afraid of a stark minimalist aesthetic.
A book with a more holistic approach to minimalism is L’art de la Simplicité by Dominique Loreau. Before being published in English in 2017, it was a bestseller in France for many years. While I think that Loreau’s book would be a good follow-up for diehard Kondo fans looking to take their quest for simplicity a step further, it is ultimately too prescriptive for the average reader looking to self-improve. That said, Loreau’s explanations are well-thought out and motivating. She makes the reader yearn for a minimalistic lifestyle and tells quite specifically how to go about achieving it. However, some might see it as more aspirational than realistic. For one, it seems to assume the reader is a woman who is unencumbered by family and live-in relationships. Unlike Kondo, there also seems to be less emphasis on individual tastes and preferences and more on a set way of doing things – not that she doesn’t have some great tips to incorporate! If you are seeking true minimalism, not just a decluttering project, this is a book you will likely appreciate.
The Courage to be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga is a new (to the English-speaking world) book being described as Marie Kondo for the mind. I’m just begun reading it and while I’m not sure if it is the right book for me, it certainly takes an interesting, unconventional approach. It is entirely comprised of discussions between a philosopher and a young man, where the philosopher uses the theories of Alfred Adler (a contemporary of Freud and Jung) to inform his teachings. If it is the east-meets-west approach you most enjoyed about Marie Kondo’s books, or the psychological components, then you may want to give this one a try. Like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it was a huge bestseller in Asia before being translated for the western market.
In Goodbye, Things, another Japanese author, Fumio Sasaki, discusses how he shed his excess belongings out of practicality and a need for change. Doing so fundamentally reworked his surroundings but also put him on a path toward simplicity, gratitude and freedom. Goodbye, Things shares his experience and offers minimalism strategies for readers to implement in their own lives. This is definitely a choice for readers interested in true minimalism; that is to say, it is definitely more extreme than the KonMari method! The library has this title available as an audiobook through Hoopla, which is an on-demand service for digital items. Just sign up with your library card and borrow it immediately here.
In the spirit of minimalism, the best thing you can do is borrow these titles from the library instead of buying them! Library cards are completely free to local residents and we have a wealth of resources for you to enjoy without committing to more clutter.
Please check out library catalogue for availability.
This article was originally published in The Napanee Beaver.