So, I recently moved. I moved a lot as a kid and a young adult; I probably didn’t appreciate how much work it was for my mom to pack up a whole household, kids and pets and move as much as we did. I’ve been in the same place for eight years and the amount of crap my kids and I had accumulated was daunting, but I figured that now was the time to divest myself from some of the junk we no longer used or wanted. But I am a terrible hoarder, so how was I ever going to part with some of this stuff.
Enter The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
So Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant who claims that if you adopt her “KonMari” method of decluttering, you’ll never be untidy again. Her secret is to discard and then organize and she offers all sorts of tips on everything from how to fold your clothes (apparently we all do it wrong) to organizing your closet to getting rid of ephemera (and don’t we all have way to much paper even in a so-called paperless society)…and then here’s the one I needed help with – books. I guess, to a degree, Marie and I parted company on books.
So, I moved into my new place and pretty much the first thing that had to happen was I needed bookshelves built, which my amazing brother Tom did for me. Now, if I was going to follow Marie’s advice, I’d put all my books on the floor (as it turns out – that’s where they all were – in piles all over the floor) – she’s big on having people put stuff on the floor, spread out so you can see it, but also so you have to pick up the book to put it back on the shelf. Here’s her criteria for making the decision about whether or not the book goes back on the shelf: decide “…whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it.”
Kondo herself only keeps about 30 books at a time – which is horrifying to me, that’s about the amount I have stacked on my bedside table – but I think her advice is generally sound. She would definitely take issue with my tbr shelf because her take on that is when it comes to the claim that you will get around to reading a book “sometime” is that “sometime” never comes. Kondo and I have differing opinions on that, I guess.
This book would be a great little gift for someone who needs to do some decluttering and she really does make the claim that if you follow her advice, you’ll never be buried under your junk again.
So, once I got all my books on my shelves…they all sparked joy, every one of them, btw…I picked a book from my tbr shelf (I think just to show Ms. Kondo that I actually DID read those books – eventually) and that books was
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
This is a book about a high-powered lawyer who lives with her daughter Amelia in Brooklyn. She’s a single mom and a bit of a workaholic, but she and her daughter, who is 15, have a great relationship. Her daughter attends a prestigious private school where she’s a top student and athlete. The book opens with Kate getting a call from the school that Amelia is being suspended for plagiarizing an essay and Kate has to go pick her up from the school. By the time she arrives, Amelia is dead – which, not a spoiler, it’s on the back of the book. McCreight unspools the story, not only from Kate’s point of view, but also through Amelia’s first person narrative and it’s a real page-turner as Kate tries to figure out what happened to her daughter and Amelia tries to navigate the tricky underbelly of teenage cliques.
This book was scary, actually, because it really highlighted how little we know – as parents – about the lives of our kids, even when we have a good relationship with them…and a lot of that has to do with social media, cell phones…so this is a timely story, a family drama and sort of a thriller all rolled into one.
Then I picked a book off my tbr shelf at school…yes, I have one…it’s a thing
Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
So I read Kuehn’s book Charm & Strange earlier this year and loved that book and Complicit is pretty dang good, too. Kuehn actually has a doctorate in clinical psychology, which is why I think she manages to create such compelling damaged characters. In this instance, a story about siblings Cate and Jamie, who were placed in foster care s children after the shooting death of their mom. Years later, Cate ends up being sent to juvie after she burns down a neighbour’s barn…and then a couple years after that, she comes back to town and throws her brother’s life into turmoil. It’s a total page turner, with complex characters, excellent writing.
Although I am not completely settled into my new place, my books are in their rightful place and looking at them gives me great joy.