Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Self Help
My Rating: 4 Stars

I have never been a fan of self help books. In spite of having friends that rave about books that helped them live life better, I have always stayed away from that genre. Until yesterday, that is. I've been in a major reading slump lately and I'm completely overwhelmed with a need to declutter my home completly so I decided to nurture my nesting instincts and attack my reading slump with a single solution - a book on decluttering and tidying up.

Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and an author. Her book - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has topped the NY Times (self help books) best sellers list since its publication in October 2014. She has a huge fan following in the US and it hard to see any blogs on decluttering, cleaning or minimalism without at least one reference to the guru - Kondo.

And that intrigued and baffled me - just like the blog articles on cleaning and tidying up do. How hard is it to clean up your own place? Well, so I decided to read Kondo's book and see what the much hyped system of cleaning is all about - the KonMari method.

It was a really quick read and it was just what it proclaimed to be - a manual on decluttering and organizing. It was fascinating to learn about Japanese culture and their attitude towards possessions in this book. That was the positive thing for me. Kondo anthropomorphized every object - from socks to forks to clothes at the bottom of a folded pile. She thanked items for serving their purpose before discarding them and she recommends touching and feeling every single object to see if it sparks a joy in you before you make your decision to keep it or throw it.

Kondo starts at the very beginning and talks you through the process of analyzing your stuff. She gives you a strategy and tells you why some other "popular" decluttering methods are not sustainable in the long run.

The KonMari method is simple, straightforward and easy to follow. She walks you through the steps of completely decluttering your home starting with clothes, followed by books and papers and 'komono' (miscellaneous items). At the very end, she deals with the most difficult of them all - the sentimental items. The book is definitely inspiring and makes you reevaluate your possessions in a new light. Personally, I would have liked it if she had elaborated more on the Komono section.

I have read so many testimonials where people swear by this book and can't stop gushing over how their life changed overnight after reading this book and following the KonMari principles. For more of that, you can see the 700+ 5 star reviews for this book on Amazon.

It's a quick interesting read and it might work for you! Give it a shot.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Book Series - No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Number of books (as of January 2015) - 15
Author - Alexander McCall Smith
My Rating - 4 Stars

When I first heard of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, I was a little wary. The series was immensely popular and everyone who read it couldn't stop raving about it. I was looking for books set in Botswana for my Armchair Traveling Project and I needed a book that would be authentically Botswana and books written by a professor from Edinburgh didn't seem to be "authentic" enough. I couldn't have been more wrong. I am going to have to go along with all those other raving reviews and say that I am absolutely in love with this series!

The premise of the books is very simple. Armed with nothing but an inheritance from her dad, a book on private detection by Clovis Andersen, a keen sense of observation and a love for Botswana and it's people, Mma Precious Ramotswe decides to start her own detective agency - the first detective agency to be run by a woman in Botswana.

Through the lives of Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi, and through the various cases they solve/resolve, we come to experience Botswana. The rich cultures and traditions of the country as well as the routines and habits of its people are beautifully weaved into the story line and transport us effortlessly to this beautiful country in southern Africa. I was amazed to see the author tackle complex themes like feminism, modernization, traditional belief systems etc effortlessly through various "cases" along the books.

The books are short, quick reads but I have to warn you, you definitely cannot stop with just one. There are 15 books in the series to date and after having read them all one after another, I can totally vouch for every single one of them.

If you are looking for a light, quick read that immerses you in the culture of Botswana, this series is definitely for you!