The best books for people who want to reimagine their relationship to stuff

The Books I Picked & Why

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: Free Yourself from Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Clutter Forever

By Karen Kingston

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: Free Yourself from Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Clutter Forever

Why this book?

Probably the grandmother of all decluttering books, this book, like all great books, is so deep and yet so simple. She has some great practical tips for de-cluttering, such as using a ‘transit’ box for things that go in other rooms so you don’t have to keep getting up and end up getting distracted; as well as some expansive interpretations of de-cluttering, like clear out old relationships. As an organizer, I realize that almost everything a person needs to know about de-cluttering Kingston put down on paper in 1998. 


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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Why this book?

It is trite to say: this book changed my life… and maybe not accurate, maybe what this book did was profoundly alter my understanding of myself. I love this book. Csikszentmihalyi explains that when we are happy we are in Flow, which is an optimal state of challenge and success. One person might find it in tennis, another at work, another (my son) in video games. But some of us, know how to find it… and that, my dear, makes all the difference.


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A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

By Sarah Lazarovic

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

Why this book?

This tiny gem of a book was born when Lazarovic decided to go on a shopping diet and paint the things she coveted instead of buying them. In the first half of her wonderfully illustrated and hand-lettered book, she explains her evolution from “I want it” child, to mall-rat teen to coming of age in the age of fast fashion. She chronicles her clothes, her awakening to the downsides of late-stage capitalism, and ends with several wise tips to help slow our consumption. A dynamo of a political pill wrapped in utterly playful confection of art and humor. One thing I do not regret buying is this book!


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Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Why this book?

This is such a fun book. There are things we know (I love my new orange club chair!) but we don’t know why… or you don’t, but I do, because I read Joyful and now I understand why we are neurologically primed for certain shapes, colors to bring us joy. This book explained so much for me about the push-pull so many of my clients have between craving abundance but also wanting order, and why we are all such suckers for novelty items. Fetell Lee also has a fun chart at the back, so you can try to bring some joy to your interior. Everyone should read this book because minimalism is boring and people need to stop painting their walls grey.


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The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish

By Linda Przybyszewski

The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish

Why this book?

Przybryszewski, a history professor at Notre Dame, had me from the start where she says she’s probably the only person to have spoken to the Supreme court wearing a ’suit that won a blue ribbon at a country fair.” Taking American fashion back to the Home Economics taught at Land Grant Universities and subsequently, at high schools, Przybryszewski argues that knowing how to sew was not just a practical skill, but also made us better consumers.

Making our own clothes might have seemed like drudgery, but it was empowering and now that most of us don’t have those skills, we’re literally slaves to fashion…  we can’t tell high-quality from low quality, we can’t put in pockets when we need them… and nothing, nothing is ever our exact size. This is a book that will make you want to learn to make your own clothes… or at least cast a far more critical eye on any piece of clothing you are considering purchasing.


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