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{Book} The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s 3 out of 3 for Japanese authors this 2015. I didn’t mean for the first quarter of the year to be Japanese author centric, but it somehow turned out that way–with the books I ended up finishing penned by Japanese authors.

I honestly have no idea how to rate this book. For practicality? Ease of use? How I felt about it?

An arguably short read, this has been one of the most stressful reads of my life. The KonMari method of disposing of everything that doesn’t give you joy goes against my need to always be ready for a plan B and always be prepared, and just thinking about the amount of things I’d be getting rid of gave me a quite a bit of anxiety. I also find her method of disposing (and then buying again, if it turns out you really want and/or need it) pretty wasteful–maybe this advice is better suited for developed countries like Japan and America?

As most self-help non-fiction books, this book is full of repetition. Half this book is the author repeating her mantra of getting rid of the things that don’t bring you joy, sprinkled heavily with her spiritual belief (that inanimate objects have souls, under the Shinto religion). It’s repeated so many times that you’ll believe it at the end of the book–not the animism (as I can hear sarcastic Western counterparts slamming this a thousands of miles away, though I do respect the author for explaining this in terms that are easy to relate to and understand–or maybe I’ve watched too much anime as a child and am too familiar with Japanese culture, who knows), but the selling point that you should only keep things that bring you joy and everything else (such as happiness when embarking on a new lifestyle) will follow because of the positivity of being surrounded solely by things that make you happy will bring (yep, definitely too much anime as a child).

I guess I should give a quick background on why I picked this book up. For quite a while, I’ve been feeling out of control and restless, a way of channeling my stress that isn’t at breaking down point (or so I thought), through cleaning out my wardrobe. Since that entry, I kept doing a bi-weekly review and tossing out items and do a one in, two out method (as one of the reasons of the closet clean up was to finally dress the way I want, which means building up my wardrobe). Add that and since this book, I’ve added two more garbage bag of clothes, one garbage bag of shoes, and one garbage bag of handbags to the donate pile, and have yet to sort out my jeans (because I am faced with the conundrum that those heat traps don’t bring me joy, no, but I like the fit of the ones I have left (jeans shopping is horrible and one of the hardest things for a girl with my proportions) and I need at least a pair or two for life in general, and especially on red days). I use garbage bag as a unit of measure; I look at them and I can already hear my mother’s voice in my head protesting that those items are still nice and usable.

It’s been four days since I cleared my closet and I’m getting used to the fact that instead of facing the stressful, daunting task of what to wear every morning, I am faced with options that make me feel, I look great in that, I look great in that, I feel boring in that BUT IT’S SUPER COMFY IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I’M ON CLOUDS AND THAT I CAN DO ANYTHING, I look cute in that, I look nice in that… It’s an amazing mood lifter and I am not a morning person.

The KonMari method is pretty strict on a lot of things–lay out ALL the clothes in the house on the floor, touch them one by one to see if they give you joy, discard those that don’t. Follow the given KonMari order of discarding, it is essential that you do it that way, do not do it any other way or else you won’t graduate from the course because it won’t hone your ~joy picking skills~ (never mind that things have varying weights of important to different people). Anyway, I’ve gone through most of my clothes, all my shoes and bags, all my jewelry/accessories–and well, I do feel lighter. But this is the feeling I like anyway, which was why I kind of got addicted to removing things bi-weekly since last year, the way your brain tricks you into thinking that removing something physically means removing stress space occupied in your head (Kondo Marie believes this, though).

While helpful, readers should go into this with a mindset of taking what they know can work for them. This book, for example, emphasizes folding clothes into rectangles and storing them upright. This assumes that all the readers of this book use drawers as clothing storage. In our house, we use cabinets and closets. Storing items vertically would be an epic waste of space in the types of cabinets we have, especially since you wouldn’t even see anything on the second row to the third since it’s be too dark back there. Not to mention the 16 inches height that’d end up being wasted!

My dream is to have a library when I have a place of my own, and let’s be real here, the chances of me finding my very own Prince Adam (aka Disney’s Beast) who’ll give me my own legit library is very slim, so I’m going to have to work for that on my own. I’ll donate the ones I planned on selling / giving away anyway (ones I won through a contest but have no plans of reading and the ones I read but couldn’t care less if I had them around [aka they don’t bring me joy]). For unread books, however, the KonMari method advises to get rid of them as they will never be read and they have already served their purpose–your happiness at the time of purchase. I read and reviewed a hundred books and manga volumes during a year of unemployment; I definitely know what’s unread now won’t be in the future, especially if I bought a physical copy of it. As she oft repeats, keep it if it makes you happy, for this is the way to reset your lifestyle. Well, my dream lifestyle involves a library groaning with well-curated books, so.

There isn’t much about keeping the things you need, just a reminder not to stockpile them in fear of running out. I admit, I have this tendency (which I know I inherited from my mother). I buy something I need (say, shampoo) and I always end up being one of the people who, when the item runs out, can’t find the one I use available so I’m forced to temporarily switch. Then, while I’m using my current one, I find the one I like so I buy one. Fast forward, while using that bottle, I see another bottle available at the grocery store, so I buy that as well in preparation. Then it snowballs into other things… So, starting today, we are avoiding this trap! Control! Thyself! Do not buy bleach powder the next time you go to the mall!

Some of her storage tips were helpful for me–particularly the one about designated spots. It is easier to keep track of things once they have their own spot and we should never ever have an “anything goes” spot because there lies the blackhole of clutter. This is also known as my bedside table.

All in all, this was a stressful read but I enjoyed it. Although it was repetitive, I never found it annoying as the tone she uses is very patient and encouraging. I will try to do a follow-up review once I finish tidying up. Wish me luck with my cleaning!

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Chapter IX Booksandmore

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Chapter IX Booksandmore is a second-hand bookstore in Circle C (Congressional Ave., Quezon City) owned by Gary Montenegro.

I stumbled on Chapter IX a few years ago, when it was just a tiny stall sandwiched between overrun clothing and knicknack stalls – I was on my way to get my Chuck Taylors designed, from a stall that does tattoos. The tattoo stall is long gone but the bookstore remains – and has expanded!

(Unless of course, that was a different 2nd hand bookstore altogether, which feels unlikely given the location, but in which case–oops.)

Tucked into a corner of the second floor, you’ll have to pass through a narrow hallway of clothes stalls to get to Chapter IX. Once you’re there, it’s easy to lose yourself in their blue bookshelves bursting with both hard-to-find titles and much loved stories.

Chapter IX Books offers a wide selection of brand new and secondhand books from a diverse set of interesting genres. Our bookshelves contain great works in Literary Classic, Contemporary, Suspense/Thriller, Noir/Hardboiled Fiction, Romance/Chick Lit, Science-Fiction/Fantasy, Non-Fiction (Biographies, Philosophy, Historical, Motivational, General Knowledge, Hobbies and Interests, Sports, Self-Help, Music, etc.), Literature for Young Adults, Children’s Books, and many more. Aside from books, we also have a selection of pre-owned imported magazines for those who enjoy reading magazines. – Chapter IX Booksandmore FB

Chapter IX Booksandmore is a notch above other second hand bookstores because of their meticulous organization, great book selection, and affordable prices. They keep track of all their titles, so you can easily just ask if they have a copy of the book you’re looking for. What’s more, if they don’t have it, they’re open to putting the book you want on a wishlist – which means you’ll be the first person (this depends on the queue for a specific title) to be notified if they have that title in stock.

Chapter IX Booksandmore also has a decent amount of rare / hard-to-find books, by way of foreign (non-Western) authors and award-winners. You can also find art books, poetry, erotica, noir, and more. When I first started posting my finds on Facebook (notably Elie Wiesel books and Story of O) early this year, a couple of friends wanted me to take them to the bookstore. 😀

Of course, I don’t keep coming back just because of the selection. I think they also have great customer service. I’ve bought twice from their physical store without a hitch. However, the first time I tried ordering online I had a bit of trouble. Reserving online went fine, and I opted to pay and pick-up at the store. While my books were reserved with my name on it, I wasn’t able to get all of my orders since two of the three books I reserved were priced differently from the ones I reserved online (they were marked higher). Since Mr. G wasn’t there at the time, the saleslady didn’t want to sell me the books at the price I reserved them at (which I understood, since it would be deducted from her salary if it turned out I was lying; I was also a bit frustrated since it felt like I wasted time and money going to the store if I’d end up leaving empty-handed anyway). I didn’t have an internet subscription on my phone at that time, so I couldn’t show here the agreed price on their FB site.

I ended up getting the one of the three that was at the same price, found a copy of the same book at the price I reserved online available in store, and paid for those.   I sent a quick message when arrived at home – I was still interested in getting the book I reserved – and the matter was resolved quickly the next day. I paid via GCash and they sent the book to me, sans shipping fee. Yay!  After this though, I opted for shipping my purchases, since I pay less (trike costs P40 going there, another P40 going back). Also, this eliminates more impulse buys on my part. I’ve spent so much this year O___O

I’ve visited the physical store more than a handful of times but funnily enough, never when sir G was around. I haven’t met him in person yet, but would love to someday. Maybe I can talk him into setting up a loyalty card. Hehehe

The photo above has most of the titles I bought from Chapter IX. I’ll list them down so you can see part of their amazing selection (let’s go, Google SEO!).

• The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson, P99 I. love. this. So far, my fave read this year. And at P99 SUCH A STEAL.
• The Oath – Elie Wiesel
• Annie John – Jamaica Kincaid (not in photo)
• Night – Elie Wiesel, P149
• Story of O – Anne Desclos as Pauline Réage
• Forever Princess – Meg Cabot SHHH. HAHA I couldn’t help myself, I loved the Princess Diaries books when I was in high school. I had every single one, even the specials – except for this, since I had outgrown the series/the formulaic plot Cabot uses by the time this came out (I still read an ebook though). This was the final book (10th) up until early this year, where Meg Cabot announced she’d be writing another installment set in the future of this !verse.
• The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman, P99
• The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman, P99
• Bird by Bird – Anne Lammot. I already read this in ebook form and when I saw a physical copy available, I had to get it. It’s one of the best books about writing that I’ve read since it tackles much more than just ‘tips’ on how to write. It takes you through the whole emotional process and is written in a very relatable way.
• On Writing – Stephen King, P249
• Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata, P289
• Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, P249 An impulse buy–or an impulse ‘Next’, if you will. If Generation Z had their way, all literature will be like this–sans the irony.
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie, P349 Flashback freshman year of college, where I practically visited all the bookstores in the metro to look for Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories for Lit class. Ang ending? No one in our class was able to find a copy and we ended up photocopying the whole book from professor.
Makioka Sisters – Junichiro Tanizaki, P389
• Some Prefer Nettles – Junichiro Tanizaki, P389
• Blackwood Farm – Anne Rice P149
• The Vampire Armand – Anne Rice, P149
• Blood and Gold – Anne Rice, P149
• Blood Canticle – Anne Rice, 149
• Memnoch the Devil – Anne Rice, P149
• Merrick – Anne Rice, P149 And with this, I have completed my deceased uncles collection of the Vampire Chronicles. 😀

Anyway, I am banning myself from buying books. SERIOUSLY. I haven’t even started on most of these – and I’m keeping them wrapped, the way they were delivered, since my bookshelf is full.
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The rest of my books are in plastic bags under my bed, sobs. Sir G, if you are reading this, BANNED NA KO. Until next year. Haha

 

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[Book Review] Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman

Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and RevengeSex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is a hot mess. The chapters were subdivided as such:

1 Sex with the King
2 Beyond the Bed–The Art of Pleasing A King
3 Rivals for a King’s Love–The Mistress and the Queen
4 Cuckold to the King–The Mistress’s Husband
5 Unceasing Vigilance–The Price of Success
6 Loving Profitably–The Wages of Sin
7 Political Power Between the Sheets
8 Red Whores of Babylon–Public Opinion and the Mistress
9 The Fruits of Sin–Royal Bastards
10 Death of the King
11 The End of a Brilliant Career and Beyond
12 Monarchs, Mistresses, and Marriage

which served no purpose but to hide the fact that the author favored the stories of some mistresses over others. The chapters weren’t even linear chronology, making it hard to keep track of anything. Names were dropped everywhere, crossing centuries and continents.

It would have been better, comprehensively, to either write one chapter per king or mistress tackled in this book, with one chapter at the end for all the mistresses mentioned only once or twice throughout, written in  biography style; or,if insisting on the current table of contents arrangement, to break each chapter up into sections per king.

I doubted if I was truly reading non-fiction, if this was really written by an historian. Not because I found anything hard to believe, but because a lot of parts of this book were written like it came from a tabloid. The author wasn’t objective as well, favoring some over others, you could feel her gossipy tone for some mistresses made more stark with the change of tone to a lighter, more positive note for the most famous royal mistress currently alive.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting read and I did come out of this more knowledgeable than I was before I read it.

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