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I Don’t Read… But I Read This Book and Here is Why You Should Too

Francis Strietmann

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It was a typical Sunday afternoon. My parents and I were visiting an old friend of theirs who lives with her husband and two daughters. The older, who will start high school next fall, had just moved out of her shared room with her little sister and was eager to show me her “new room,” the cleared out basement. Her younger sister was also excited to show me her new room too. Each living space was unique to the girl who occupied it. Both were fairly simple, holding things that were special to them without excess.

I told my mom how lovely each of their rooms was and how envious I was, due to the fact that since my earliest memories my room has never stayed free of mess for even a single week. These perfect rooms, my mother explained, were due to a book the mother of the girls had read,  the methods of which she had employed. Though my mother knows that suggesting book titles to me mid–school year is similar to telling my brother to get a life, she took a chance and went for it. “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo is a best seller and will land you on a week long wait list if you wish to check it out from the library. This is just enough time to cope with the fact that as a high school student you are already reading a self-help book. Clean rooms and unassigned reading material are two things that are usually not points of interest for many kids our age. But the rooms of the two young girls were just so beautiful.

I read the whole book cover to cover on a Tuesday: between classes, at lunch, before and after school, and even in the car. I am by no means a fast reader. I have never been the first to finish a reading in class, nor second, third or probably fourth. I do not have a particular passion for cleaning either. I never make my bed, and I hate doing laundry. That being said, I am completely confident in saying that this book did change my life. Kondo makes eloquent statements in her book such as, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” These ideas will transform your living space as well as your way of thinking about it. The book suggests that “the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”

This approach to your belongings will transform your room into a you–centric wonderland of positivity and beauty (in your own eyes at least). Do not go into this book expecting Kondo will teach you the secret to folding all of those ugly T–shirts you can’t throw away into a shape that fits 10 times as many into your drawer. This book is a physical, as well as mental, journey. Not only will it teach you to create and maintain a clean living environment, but also one which will help you become the best possible you.

A book that promises to change not only your cleaning style but also you may seem intimidating at first. Kondo’s gentle suggestions, you will soon discover, are far from that. She will tell you things like “The true purpose of a gift is to be received,” in regard to letting go of things that you do not particularly enjoy but were given to you, a common source of clutter for the average teenager. Throughout the book she addresses any issue a person may have with giving or throwing away things that are no longer relevant.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past,” she writes. This topic is very relevant for people of all ages, but even more so to the high school student who is changing the most rapidly on their journey to self- discovery.

Immediately after reading the book I transformed my room. I went through every storage space, dumped it out, then sorted it into two piles, those which sparked joy and those that did not. Previously I needed the top of my dresser, shelf, and underneath my bed to store things. After this I do not use any of those spaces. My table next to my bed is clean for the first time in years and my drawers are not overflowing. My room is a beautiful, clean, and happy place that I am relieved to return to after a long day of school and sports practice. I never lose my clothes at the bottom of drawers anymore, due to the suggested method of having all objects visible when the drawer is opened (no vertical stacking).
      I now make my bed regularly for the first time in my life. This book will transform your room, your tidying habits, your ways of thinking about tidying, and additional lessons which may extend to your world outside of your room.

“It is the same with people,” Kondo writes. “Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or a lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of what you do like, so that you will appreciate those.”

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