Book Review: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter

Overall rating: 3/5
Readability rating: 4/5
Character rating: N/A
Plot rating: N/A
Cover rating: 4/5
Would I recommend: If you need the motivation or just a little help to get yourself cleaning and organizing, this could be a book for you. Otherwise, no.

Goodread Genres: Nonfiction, Self-help

Perfect for: People who want to get their life together, clean, and organize.

Book Synopsis: ” In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädningmeaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.”

Spoiler-free review:

Listen, I do not have my life together. I’m an absolute mess. You might have noticed that with how I utterly failed the last writing challenge I did. But I’m reading this to do a bit of spring cleaning: mentally, physically, and in the written word to be honest.

I would like to say the title is ironic. Being a book promoting minimalism, she hasn’t heard about minimalism with words at all. I also will say I’m really glad I picked this as an audiobook because of all the Swedish words just right at the beginning.

The book was short and sweet. She used her own life as examples. Nothing was condescending, but in the end, it’s something that we all know how to do. We just don’t do it.

We need to. If this book helps people do just that, then it’s good.

Spoiler review:

“The only thing we know for sure, is that we will die one day, but before that we can try to do almost anything.”

Oof. Gonna start by being super deep I see, but inspirational. This isn’t meant to be a sad thing, it’s meant to make life better.

It is definitely very Marie Kondo. Minimalism doesn’t have too many variations. Less things is good. More poignant things instead of frivolous things is good.

Her approach to getting rid of items was slightly different. She started with locations, not items. She started with the basement and attic, places where clutter hides. Then start with the biggest items and move down the line to the smallest. She did mention not to start with letters and pictures…it will drag you down memory lane and you’ll never make it back.

Plus, she stated to start with the easiest categories of items for you as motivation. I found this fantastic because motivation is the hardest part of cleaning out clutter.

In the end, I realized, no matter how messy my parents’ house had gotten, my mother was mildly death cleaning. She had already separated antiques, made decisions on who would get what when she left this earth.

But it isn’t just about that. It’s about living with less stress, with less guilt. And that cleaning like this will most likely happen multiple times through our life–taking lots of time to do that. One cleaning that she mentioned took a year.

It’s simple, but not easy, and something we all know we have to do. This book just shoves it into our hands and whispers, please think about this now instead of when it’s going to be so hard.

It’s more about motivation, less about minimalism or cleaning itself. I believe most people know how to do everything in this book, but just don’t. Books like this jump start our motivation, make us feel like we are trying new attacks to old problems.

I have’t tried this out myself yet, but I do feel motivated to start paring down things I own. I plan on moving soon anyway. This will make me feel less guilty when I need help to move.

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