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

Who am I?

As a professional organizer since 1999, I’ve realized that the problem isn’t so much that we are disorganized, but that we are out-matched. We have too much stuff, it is too cheap and we are too busy and we can’t keep up. If you really want to stay organized, you have to examine your relationship to stuff. Why we want what we want and buy what we buy. Less but better! 

I wrote...

Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist's Guide to Getting -- and Staying -- Organized

By Amanda Sullivan,

Book cover of Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist's Guide to Getting -- and Staying -- Organized

What is my book about?

If you're looking to clean up but not clean out, if you want to declutter but don't want to throw out eighty percent of your stuff, if you want to be able to find matching socks in the morning but don't want a color-coded sock drawer, you've come to the right place. Organized Enough offers a groundbreaking, science-driven method for getting -- and staying -- organized. Amanda Sullivan's proven approach will teach you the lifelong habits of the organized, showing you how to make cleaning up effortless and automatic.

With seven concepts to help you define your goals and seven essential habits to keep chaos and clutter at bay, Organized Enough will teach you to reframe how you think about your space, your stuff, and your life.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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. 

By Karen Kingston,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this revised and updated edition of her classic, bestselling book, Karen Kingston draws on her wealth of experience as a clutter clearing, space-clearing, and feng shui practitioner to show you how to transform your life by letting go of clutter.

Her unique approach lies in understanding that clutter is stuck energy that has far-reaching physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects. You'll be motivated to clutter clear as never before when you realize just how much your junk has been holding you back!
You will learn:

- Why people keep clutter
- How clutter causes stagnation in your life

Book cover of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Why did I love 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.

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Flow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Csikszentmihalyi arrives at an insight that many of us can intuitively grasp, despite our insistent (and culturally supported) denial of this truth. That is, it is not what happens to us that determines our happiness, but the manner in which we make sense of that reality. . . . The manner in which Csikszentmihalyi integrates research on consciousness, personal psychology and spirituality is illuminating.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

The bestselling classic that holds the key to unlocking meaning, creativity, peak performance, and true happiness.

Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an…

Book cover of A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

Why did I love 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!

By Sarah Lazarovic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like most people, Sarah Lazarovic covets beautiful things. But rather than giving in to her impulse to spend and acquire, Sarah spent a year painting the objects she wanted to buy instead. Based on a visual essay that was first published on The Hairpin, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy is a beautiful and witty take on the growing 'slow shopping' movement. Sarah is a well-known blogger and illustrator, and she writes brilliantly without preaching or guilt-tripping. Whether she's trying to justify the purchase of yet another particleboard IKEA home furnishing, debating the pros and cons of…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Ingrid Fetell Lee,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Joyful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Make small changes to your surroundings and create extraordinary happiness in your life with groundbreaking research from designer and TED star Ingrid Fetell Lee.

Next Big Idea Club selection—chosen by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, and Adam Grant as one of the "two most groundbreaking new nonfiction reads of the season!"

"This book has the power to change everything! Writing with depth, wit, and insight, Ingrid Fetell Lee shares all you need to know in order to create external environments that give rise to inner joy." —Susan Cain, author of Quiet and founder of Quiet Revolution

Have you ever…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Linda Przybyszewski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Art of Dress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a glance down any street in America quickly reveals, American women have forgotten how to dress. We chase fads, choose inappropriate materials and unattractive cuts, and waste energy tottering in heels when we could be moving gracefully. Quite simply, we lack the fashion know-how we need to dress professionally and flatteringly.As historian and expert dressmaker Linda Przybyszewski reveals in The Lost Art of Dress , it wasn't always like this. In the first half of the twentieth century, a remarkable group of women,the so-called Dress Doctors,taught American women how to stretch each yard of fabric and dress well on…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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