To Purge or Not to Purge? That is the Konmari Question.

The Netflix TV show “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo is taking the nation by storm.

This woman’s gentle, joyful method of tidying up has shop-happy Americans cleaning up their acts one trash bag at a time.

Marie Kondo’s show demonstrates her using the Konmari method (a name she made up based on her first and last name, but I say kudos!) to several families in need of help.  She arrives, with a massive sweet smile and sweet intention. She helps the family to see what they DO have – love, a safe home, family – and then gets to work training them to get rid of what they do NOT need.

Yet, when it comes to books, several book-advocates draw the line.

Turning a Page on Marie Kondo

In a recent episode, books were on her chopping block.  And that lit up a firestorm (which I suppose is better than a, he-hem, bonfire).

Ron Charles of the Washington Post boldly declared books were off limits in his piece called “Keep Your Tidy, Spark-Joy Hands off my Book Piles, Marie Kondo.”  Now typically, titles are no more than 6 words, but I suppose that to demonstrate he is so adamantly against purging books, he splurged on words themselves.

I was so taken by his article I made this graphic to remember its bite.

Ron Charles, books, konmari, Marie Kondo, Tidying Up

Another article from The Guardian was titled, “Why We Gain from Keeping Books – and Why It Doesn’t Need to Be Joy.” The author, Anakana Schofield begs readers to see Marie Kondo’s method as an insidious way to discourage reading.

In a flat refusal of Marie’s trending joy-centered purging, Schofield explains why books should be exempt: “Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us” (The Guardian, Schofield, 2019).

Sirens At Work Unbinding Culture

And it’s this statement which blew my eyes open to the reality that not every scourge against reading in our day has to be among the bonfire likes of “Fahrenheit 451.”  To be sure, Ray Bradbury’s book has helped us to train our eyes to see the threat to culture to come in the form of a police state and outright censorship.

The First Siren

But the threat evermore becomes one of beauty, a siren that beckons.  For the last 10 years, it’s been the onslaught and expectation of being entertained at every moment by bright lights flickering on portable screens (I know many people benefit from reading books on screens – that comment is not addressed to you).  A flashy screen is hard to resist. Endless games, apps…

Which – commercial break – is why I make these for my kids.  They love crossing off the boxes as they complete 20 minutes.  Here’s one for winter! My daughter reminds me I am to share it with you here!  For a PDF version, click on the download box – you’ll start to get news and deals in your email box if so!  I want you to have the very best 😉

usborne (7)

The Second Siren

Getting back to the issue at hand, another threat to culture lately has been the trend toward emulating home-decor-perfection.  Bookshelves are messy?  Turn the bindings backward so all you see are pages. Or, simply take most of the books off the shelves to show 3 at a time with a plant and a mirror.  After all, aren’t books just for show?

Just think of all the fun conversations we are missing out on by keeping titles hidden.

The Third Siren

And then we have this most recent siren – the one of simplicity.  Make no mistake, this trend is important to heed, especially in America.  Nothing has had a better effect on my mental health and cleaning schedule like downsizing our home!

But like Charles and Schofield, I draw the line at books.  I feel it’s a threat to an open mind.  Who can resist having an impossibly sweet organizer whisper “you don’t need anything that doesn’t make you happy” in my ear when all those challenges to my thoughts, embodied in titles and pictures, and sometimes cringe-worthy reads, have indeed made me who I am today.

In fact, I can’t imagine a more superficial threading of books on my shelf than whether it gives me joy.

Roy Charles, Washington Post, konmari method, marie kondo, books

Indeed, if I could quote the artful Schofield one last time, “Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.”

See your shelves for what they are: your imagination’s future.

And Marie Kondo, I thank YOU.

“Here and There” – Multicultural Awareness

I have just discovered the most amazing book for multicultural and world awareness.

I lived in West Virginia for a while as a kid, and for me, it took moving to another country to experience another culture.  And for many in those days, you had to grow up in different countries or big cities to truly experience cultures different from your own.

But now, the children’s book “Here and There” brings to your home the comparing and contrasting of the multicultural lifestyle.  At a much cheaper price, I might add, than a plane ticket.

This book will make an amazing gift for any elementary school kiddo, as well!
You can grab your copies here:
here and there

Haven’t YOU always wondered, how do people in other countries shop for groceries, go to school or work, or go on vacation?

If you are taking an international trip, use this book to increase your childrens’ awareness while you explore there!

Amazing, right!?
Grab your copies here:

Published by Kane Miller and illustrated by Greg Paprocki.

The Best of 2017

I had too much fun getting my hands on books from Usborne Books & More this year.  From activity books to instant classics, there are so many to choose from that it helped me to categorize my favorites.

I have no control over publishing, but I know which books are staying put on my shelves.  Here’s a round-up of the books that I think will last through the years.

Most Likely to Induce a Snuggle:
“I Love You Hoo” by Rachel Bright
This picture book is a cute delight brimming with deep colors.  Those deep colors go hand in hand with the story.  It shows the depth of love for a child, and with a mama owl at the helm you know it’s as deep as wisdom itself.
Picture of Love You Hoo

Most Likely to Rope You In: 
“EJ 12: Hot & Cold” by Susannah McFarlane
This story about a Girl Hero is riveting from the first chapter.  With 7 other books in the series, young readers follow EJ 12 (also known as Emma Jacks), worrying about everything from mean girls to how to save the world from a melting polar ice cap.  She uses math and coding to save the world, which I believe ushers young readers into believing they can, too.
Picture of EJ12 Girl Hero Complete Library Collection (8)

Most Likely to Make a Mom-to-be Squeal in Delight: 
Garden Sounds by Sam Taplin 
I know sometimes it’s hard to know what to pick out for a friend’s upcoming baby shower.  This book is a crowd pleaser at the shower, but more importantly, it’s a baby pleaser and a mom-to-be pleaser.  The sounds are peaceful enough to encourage the mom to reach for the book when she wants to create a peaceful space reading to her new baby.
Picture of Garden Sounds

The Book That Surprised the World:
That’s Not My Unicorn by Fiona Watts
Since the 1970’s, Usborne Publishing in the UK has released 49 baby books in the “That’s Not My” series.  These books have stimulated young readers to reach out and grow with touchy-feely components and sing-songy predictability. This year, they surprised us all with the 50th release of “That’s Not My Unicorn.”  This delight continues the tradition of finding the mouse on every page, while also adding a separate dimension in the shimmering sides of the book.  I know that unicorns have been and will continue to be a source of inspiration – which is why I labeled this new release squarely as “classic” from its very first day.
Picture of That's Not My Unicorn

Most Likely to Make You Lose Track of Everything Else:
“The Mapmaker Chronicles” by A. L. Tait
Yes – the whole series!  When you factor in a humble protagonist, ships, and life and death, this fantasy series is a step into a different world.  The first books end in cliffhangers, but the entirety of each volume is nonstop excitement.  If you want to take a leap outside your world, this series is where you can forget it, too.
Picture of Race to the End of the World (Book 1)

Most Likely to Make the Long Trip to Grandmother’s Enjoyable:
The Usborne Museum Activity Book
If there’s ever a book to take for a road trip, this one is it.  This book, so unlike most on the market, makes clear that museums are sources of entertainment, too.  Activities like puzzles, coloring, and quizzes are each themed around different types of museums like fashion, technology, natural history and design.  By the time you make a museum stopover to break up your trip, your child will be excited to put their new knowledge into action.
Picture of Museum Activity Book - IR

Most Likely to Entertain for Hours: 
Fingerprint Activities Book
This is also the #1 best seller in the UK this year.  For many reasons, children will enjoy the attached ink pads to use different colors in creating their mice, caterpillars, and dinosaurs.  The guided help on each page, complete with examples, makes this a relaxed way for children to encounter art and realize all they need are their own fingers.  With this book’s help, Moms will also find the time for that quick coffee they haven’t had the chance to drink yet, too!
Picture of Fingerprint Activities

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of the year.  If this review helped you, please share.  I appreciate you!

If you need more assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me.  Helping people find books is my favorite! These books have enlivened my home and as a distributor I have the honor of guiding friends through their choices.

And dear reader, may  2018 be your best yet!