Before this review takes it course, I have a confession to make… I have something of a culture crush when it comes to the Japanese.
I am inspired by the ancient Japanese tradition of Kintsugi, that exquisite art of fixing broken ceramics using lacquer dusted with gold, silver or platinum.
I take months to read the works of Haruki Murakami not because they are tedious, but because they leave me in a dream-like state, pausing between chapters to watch the birds and contemplate his evocative writing.
Then there is another little gem, awaiting my bedside table, given to me by a friend because I’m a self-confessed crazy cat lady: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. Excited much?!
Equally, I am enthralled by the cookbooks of a Japanese treasure, far as I’m concerned, Harumi Kurihara. Her approach makes a fine art of simplicity.
These writers, these traditions, they all speak to me like the calm after a storm. They turn the noise down on my city life and bring me the respite I so desperately crave some days.
I am always reminded of a particular Woody Allen quote. Tradition is the illusion of permanence. This is something I take to heart because I struggle with change, and need to accept it as an inevitable part of life. As Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, man could never step into the same river twice. He was never the same man he was before. And the river could not be stagnant. It had to be a body of water that flowed.
I like to think of myself as the river.
Nonetheless, when a culture has so finely honed a craft, to transform it into an art, how can one not feel even the slightest beguiled by traditions rooted in time immemorial…?
So forgive me if I was biased when drawn to Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying by Marie Kondo.
She was put through my usual paces though. Naturally. There are so many books. I cannot simply adopt them all!
They say, do not judge a book by its cover. But I could care less. I gravitate towards books that intrigue before I’ve even opened their pages. And this delight is beautiful to say the least. Some like a bubble-bath. I like returning home with a pretty book, a cover I can tease it out of later.
Next test. Opening line. This is the deal clincher.
Life truly begins only after you’ve put your house in order. Marie Kondo was speaking my language.
So I read a little further and the title of this sweet treat of literature came clearer into focus…
Only when you know how to choose those things that spark joy can you attain your ideal lifestyle. If you are confident that something brings you joy, keep it, regardless of what anyone else might say.
I feel sometimes, as I do with my cats, that with books, they so often find me, and not the other way around. They are like love letters hidden, only to reveal themselves when I need their dearest words the most. To console… To enthral… To titillate… To resonate… Or in this case, to spark joy.
Whether for a gift for another, or a gift to say thank you to yourself for being you, this book is worth every pretty penny. I know, in my heart, it will serve me in life. And that is the best kind of book. A therapeutic read. A reaffirming read. A read that leaves you changed forever after, for the good.