I first purchased Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up before it really exploded in popularity, but I never managed to read the entire book cover-to-cover. I didn’t really need to, I thought, because the main ethos of her method – Does this spark joy? – stuck with me immediately.
I’ve spent many afternoons (and even nights) sorting through the last twenty five years of my possessions and asking myself whether they spark joy. Marie doesn’t require you to feel the giddy, bottled sunshine type – you probably won’t experience that while feeling up a sweater! – because joy can be subtle, reserved, and nostalgic too.
Marie’s method lead to numerous black bags by my front door filled with clothes both old and new, an electric guitar I never learnt to play, packets of clay, yo-yos, Enter Shikari t-shirts and any number of knick-knacks from my tomboy and emo phases. This purging approach really works for me because I function (and write) better in a clear, decluttered environment. But I didn’t just stop there; recently I’ve been thinking about adopting it into other parts of my life, like in my friendships (does spending time with this person spark joy?) and career prospects (does the idea of doing this job for the next 5-10 years make me happy?), among others.
Obviously being happy 24/7 isn’t something that’s attainable or even a good thing (how would we grow as humans if we were always delighted with ourselves?) but personal happiness is always something to keep in mind. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I often sacrifice my own comfort and happiness. Sometimes we don’t have any control over it, like when you’re doing a work thing or you have family commitments, but sometimes we do. And in those instances, shouldn’t we do something about it? Why be unhappy when there’s no need to be? Why not ask yourself, ‘Does this thing I’m doing spark joy?’
It occurred to me that I could also apply Marie’s rule to reading. I’m sure everyone can admit to finishing a book they weren’t enjoying just to get to the end, or because the book was popular or “important” or a classic. I’m very familiar with that feeling of frustration of time being wasted and of wishing I’d abandoned a book 100 pages ago.
Sometimes books are slow burners, but if you’re 200 pages deep and you’re bored, just put it down. Especially if there’s just as many to go! Who cares if it’s a bestseller? Who cares if it’s won twenty awards and everyone loves it and “You simply must read it, it’s the best book ever!” If it doesn’t spark joy, set it down. Read something that reminds you why you love books so much in the first place.
Allow yourself to set a book aside instead of slogging through something you don’t enjoy. Life is short and there’s a lot of books out there!