Win­ning hearts with a tidy home

Thurs­day, Septem­ber 14, 2017

Metro Canada (Halifax) - - HOME - Kather­ine roth/the as­so­ci­ated PRESS

Tidy­ing Just when it seemed Marie Kondo had spread her gospel on the “life-chang­ing magic” of de­clut­ter­ing as far is it could go, the au­thor — whose two pre­vi­ous books re­main in­ter­na­tional best­sellers — is back with a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence in mind.

Kondo’s mes­sage that you should keep only things that “spark joy” is now in manga form, with a love story as a back­drop. Her new book, The Lifechang­ing Manga of Tidy­ing Up (Ten Speed Press), fea­tures the work of artist Yuko Uramoto and seems de­signed to at­tract a younger set — in­clud­ing teenage boys — many of whom prob­a­bly missed out on her ear­lier vol­umes. And she may be on tar­get. While my two sons, ages 12 and 14, had zero in­ter­est in her ear­lier books, they bat­tled over who could rip through Kondo’s manga as soon as they spot­ted it on the din­ing room ta­ble.

And while they rolled their eyes when I asked if it had made a dif­fer­ence in their lives, my younger son was soon putting his desk in or­der and go­ing through his draw­ers, and my older son packed for a fam­ily trip by care­fully rolling his clothes into neat lit­tle pack­ets in his suit­case.

He also com­mented on a re­cently ac­quired cab­i­net in our liv­ing room, not­ing Kondo’s ad­vice that ad­di­tional stor­age fur­ni­ture should be un­nec­es­sary in a prop­erly de­clut­tered home.

Then my boys passed the book on to a friend, who also rolled his eyes and shrugged when asked if he’d learned any­thing from it. But within days, he’d packed up no less than seven bags of un­wanted toys and clothes from his room. A co­in­ci­dence? Per­haps. Manga is a form of graphic novel in Kondo’s na­tive Ja­pan. “In Ja­pan, manga is a form of artis­tic ex­pres­sion and en­ter­tain­ment that con­nects peo­ple across gen­er­a­tions,” Kondo wrote in an email. “Cre­at­ing the manga has been such a fun and grat­i­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me, and I hope that it sparks joy for new read­ers and fans alike!”

The fic­tional story tells of Chi­aki Suzuki, 29, sin­gle, and liv­ing in a tiny hoard­ers’ den of a Tokyo apart­ment. She de­vel­ops a crush on the hand­some — and min­i­mal­ist — young man next door, a pro­fes­sional cook whom she can’t bring her­self to in­vite over be­cause of her messy place.

The two meet when he com­plains about the moun­tains of trash on her bal­cony.

Chi­aki is a worka­holic and never has time to cook, but she dreams of pre­par­ing de­li­cious meals at home. Will she ever be able to tidy up enough to in­vite her Prince Charm­ing to din­ner?

Thanks to Kondo, who ap­pears as a char­ac­ter in the book — a sort of mag­i­cal de­clut­ter­ing fairy — the an­swer is yes.

Kondo, teach­ing her method of sift­ing through be­long­ings one cat­e­gory at a time, helps Chi­aki trans­form her apart­ment and, in the process, her life. Chi­aki learns to ap­pre­ci­ate the things around her, find her for­got­ten dreams and value her­self.

In short, she dis­cov­ers the lifechang­ing magic of tidy­ing up.

And yes, she does end up with the guy next door, a role model for any reader who ever doubted that cook­ing and tidy­ing up is a way to some­one’s heart.

Ten Speed PRESS via ap

by Marie Kondo and il­lus­trated by Yuko Uramoto.

Pages from The Life-chang­ing Manga of Tidy­ing Up: A Mag­i­cal Story,

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