Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2016
I bought this because the simple-living bug has been biting me lately. I'm not cluttery but I do have a lot of stuff, you know? It's not just laying out in heaps; it all has a 'place', but I've realized I just want less of it.
This book seemed to be very well-liked, and to offer a different approach than the standard home organization book.
I'll be honest and say I'm NOT following her system exactly, because some of it is physically not possible for me. But even not doing EXACTLY what she said, I can tell you it's a better approach than all these other organization/decluttering books.
You know, most of the gurus just have ideas on how to store your stuff. It never occurs to them to ask, instead of just telling you about cool boxes and bins to buy, well...do you really NEED all that stuff in the first place? Or, if they DO recommend getting rid of stuff, it's along the old if-you-haven't-used-it-in-X-time-lose-it line. But what happens is you still have a bunch of stuff you don't REALLY LIKE. Yeah, I wear this skirt four times a year, so according to the rule of have-you-used-it-in-the-last-year, I should keep it. But what if I only wear it four times a year because it isn't very flattering? Or it's scratchy? Wouldn't I be better off getting rid of it in favor of some other skirt I'll wear every two weeks because it IS a flattering cut?
I notice lots of folks putting this book down because that's 'no big revelation'. 'Uh, you need someone to tell you to only keep stuff that you like having around and keep it put away?'
Yeah, lots of people DO need someone to remind them that's okay. Don't even TRY to act like there's NOTHING in your house that you only have because someone gave it to you and you feel like they're expecting to see it or you'd feel guilty getting rid of it, or it was your great-great-grandmother's and it's an HEIRLOOM,or you spent good money on this and dang if you're gonna get rid of it till you've got your 'money's worth' out of it, etc etc. That is FAR more common than 'I only have things in my house that I WANT to see/use'.
And I'll tell you too, the whole thing about you needing to physically touch everything to make that decision is true. I have NOT followed her recommendation of pulling every single thing in a given category together to go through it, although I can see the sense of that. You have to know what ya got and how many before you can make educated decisions about how much storage space you need. So you get every piece of clothing you have, every book in the house, etc. I haven't been able to do that. My garage is FULL OF BOXES. Going through every one to find any clothes that might be lurking in there, then going through them again to root out any books lurking in there, and so on for every category? Not gonna happen, sorry.
I'll do the books in the garage when I get to the garage. But in, say, the library, the advice to actually pick up each book and hold it DID help. The first time I just looked at each shelf. Yeah, I still want that. Still want that. Eh, I don't need that one. Oo, I still want all these. But later on, when I did it AGAIN and actually picked up every book, I ended up with THREE BOOKCASES' worth that I was totally OK parting with. Not three shelves. Three bookcases. I mean, I discovered I had four copies of the same book. (I rebuy books because I lose track; I have several thousand). I did NOT NOTICE when I was just eyeballing them that there were four of the same. It's like your mind just stops seeing things it's used to seeing, a common phenomenon. Do what she suggests and physically lay hold of your stuff!
That brings me to the other thing people are really dumping on her about...her suggestion that you talk to your stuff while you're holding it and thank it for its service.
Some of you, first of all, are extremely small-minded. 'Talking to inanimate stuff is bats#$%'...? It depends on what culture you're coming from. Here, yes, for the most part that is odd behavior. (Don't pretend that you've never yelled at your car or your printer or your phone, on the other hand. Do you actually think it understands you or will respond differently if you speak harshly to it? No? Then why do you bother?)
Unfortunately for your crack theory, the author of this book is NOT from a Western culture. It's pretty obvious she's Shinto, or was at one time, and for them, objects are NOT inanimate. They DO have a 'spirit' of a certain kind. That doesn't make her cray-cray, it just means she's not American. Jeez. I mean, Native Americans thought that rocks and rivers and clouds and such things had a life, a spirit, as well. And we all think of them as being a wise, knowledgeable people, with a connectedness to the world that we don't have.
If it offends your religion to thank a coat before you send it on, then direct your commentary to your God of choice instead. What she's really getting at is BEING THANKFUL, and if you have a problem with that, there's something wrong with YOU, not her. Pick up the coat. Say out loud or in your head: "God/Allah/Zeus, thank you for blessing me with this coat, and now I'm going to share the blessing...I know You'll get it to someone who will benefit...thanks for everything You do for me'. Fold it up, put it in the donation bag. Easy. Her religion involves thanking the object itself, your religion involves thanking the deity who sent the object your way, everyone's happy. It's not that complicated, for pete's sake.
It's a GOOD thing to be more mindful of what you have. It causes you to a) become more careful about what you bring into your life, and b) to take better care of your stuff. What's wrong with that? Nothin'.
So basically, while I have to say that in most Western households, where we have more square footage than the average Japanese house,some of what she says is physically impractical/impossible, and I certainly haven't followed her system to the letter, it DOES have useful things to say and I have found it to be of benefit even in an abridged, half-#$$ form.
If you are in a place/frame of mind where you're ready to let go of the stuff that our houses are saddled with, cluttering up our minds, check it out.