‘Tidying Up’: Does Marie Kondo Hate Books?

Book lovers are a little mad at Marie Kondo.

Netflix’s popular new show about home organizing has received an overwhelming amount of positive reviews. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo follows the Japanese organizing guru as she helps people get a handle on their clutter, one superfluous spatula at a time.

Her methods and overall demeanor have won the hearts of millions – that’s why her book is back on top of the New York Times best-seller list. Been noticing more photos of neatly stacked shirts (always vertically, never horizontally) in your Instagram feed? That’s all Kondo’s influence.

But not everyone is loving Marie Kondo or her methods. Here’s why bibliophiles have a problem with the KonMari method.

Who is Marie Kondo?

The de-cluttering expert doesn’t have a fancy degree – just a love for cleaning and organizing that dates back to childhood. She even used to skip recess in elementary school so she could re-organize the classroom bookshelf. That’s how dedicated she is to tidying up.

Kondo launched her home organizing business at the age of 19 and almost instantly built up a months-long waiting list for her services. A customer suggested that she write a book about her unique approach to decluttering, and what followed became a bona fide cultural phenomenon. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was first published in 2011 and released in the United States in 2014. Since then, it’s sold 8 million copies in 40 languages.

Why do people think Marie Kondo hates books?

The KonMari method that Kondo uses with her clients has very specific steps to follow. Her clients tackle decluttering in a series of pre-defined tasks that must be followed in order. Those categories are clothing, books, documents, komono (miscellaneous), and sentimental items.

Kondo recommends that her clients gather everything in a specific category into a large pile and then go through each item one by one, only keeping things that “spark joy.” Anything that doesn’t give you a happy feeling gets donated or put into the trash.

So what’s the problem? Some people have taken issue with the way Marie Kondo treats the book decluttering process.

Award-winning novelist Anakana Schofield worded it this way on Twitter: “Do NOT listen to Marie Kondo or Konmari in relation to books. Fill your apartment & world with them. I don’t give a shite if you throw out your knickers and Tupperware but the woman is very misguided about BOOKS. Every human needs a v extensive library not clean, boring shelves.”

What does Marie Kondo think of books?

Like everything else, Kondo believes that you should only keep books that spark joy. When her clients are decluttering this category, she asks them if they can see themselves bringing that book into their future.

But critics say the “spark joy” concept doesn’t work for books. They say if you only keep those items, you’ll never stretch your intellect. “The point of the Konmari method is to figure out what you value most,” Kondo said in response. She confirmed that if you a book makes you feel inspired or excited, it’s worth keeping around.

She also pointed out that Japanese culture is different. Since there is more moisture in the air, people are less likely to keep books at home because they fear they’ll get ruined over the long term.

Bottom line? Marie Kondo doesn’t hate books. She doesn’t hate any of your stuff. Kondo is just trying to help you be more intentional about the items in your home. The fewer things you have, the more value you’ll place on each thing. Even books.