Book Beat: The Joy of Decluttering

Submitted by B. Townsend on Wed, 04/06/2022 - 10:08

We’ve all got stuff. We buy it, we make it, we find it, we inherit it, we bring it home, and then we HAVE it. But sometimes it feels more like the stuff has us. If clutter is keeping us from having a home that’s pleasant to live in, easy to manage, and easy to clean, it’s time to declutter! Here’s some advice from the experts:

Keep only the things that spark joy, says best-selling author Marie Kondo. For a quick, illustrated overview of the KonMari decluttering process, read “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up” (yes, that’s “manga,” as in comics) or read the original books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy.”

Form new habits and clean out the clutter, recommend local Vancouver authors Pam Young and Peggy Jones. “Sidetracked Home ExecutivesTM: From Pigpen to Paradise” contains their blend of humor, understanding, and a card file system that has inspired many since their book’s first publication in 1977. (For an update of their system for the 2000s, try “Sink Reflections” by Marla Cilley—you may know her online as the Flylady.)

Go through your things now to ease the burden on your family when you die, advises Swedish author Margareta Magnusson. “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” isn’t about dusting skeletons, although it may involve eliminating “skeletons in the closet.” (For example, do you really want your kids to read your old diaries?)

Are you downsizing (or helping a family member downsize)? It can be painful, but here’s help:

Decluttering is hard work for everyone, but for those with a hoarding disorder, it can seem impossible. “Conquer the Clutter: Strategies to Identify, Manage, and Overcome Hoarding” by Elaine Birchall has information, resources, and tools for anyone living with hoarding disorder and anyone helping them.

If one author’s decluttering system doesn’t work for you, try another—there are plenty!

Happy reading, and happy decluttering!

Library tip of the month: If you’ve been decluttering, you may have bags of books you no longer need. Ask at your local library if their Friends group is currently accepting donations for their periodic book sales, or contact the FVRL Foundation to find out what they’re accepting and how to donate.


A version of this column first appeared in The Messenger, April 2022.

Find more book columns in our Off the Shelf blog.