Cover Image: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

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Member Reviews

This book is written like a grandmother telling her grandchild the important things to do as you age. It is not like the cleaning books that are very self centered about doing everything for yourself. This encourages you to not only thing about yourself but of those that are going to left behind to take care of all your items. 

I am not even middle aged yet and I really took a lot away from this book about how I live my life and the items that I hang on to and what they will mean in the future. This book is going to help me in my life right now and I don't plan on dying any time soon. 

I highly recommend this book.
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A really interesting concept and process.  With all things Swedish being so big right now I can see people really taking to this idea.
I thought the book was well written in a lovely conversation style.
However, this southern girl sort of felt like following it's advice would be tempting fate. Maybe I was just raised with too many superstitions for this to be for me.  I'm all for decluttering and cleaning but doing it with my future death in mind just isn't something I'm willing to do.
Still.  A really good read and very well written.  It's always fascinating to see how things are done in other parts of the world.
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Written in a chatty very down to earth style, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is part memoir, part how-to manual, part philosophy book and something of a cultural introduction to scandinavian customs and mores.

Her writing style is humorous and wry and delightful.  The author talks frankly about getting rid of things which tie us down and smother us in belongings/junk/stuff.
In that manner, this book reminds me a lot of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Interestingly enough, both books seem to me to be indelibly imprinted with the culture and background of the authors.  This book is peppered with words and concepts from Swedish just as TL-CMoTU has a lot of the character of Japanese living philosophy intertwined in it.

Both books are more philosophy than hands-on 'how to' books.  This one is a lot more down to earth and in my opinion more practical and includes less 'woo'/new age catchphrases. 

Speaking specifically of this book, the philosophy of facing head-on that, frankly, we're all going to shuffle off and die at some point and streamlining our stuff before that inevitability is just going to make us more relieved and our heirs happier is important.  It could have been very dark and depressing, but Margareta (self stated age between 80 and 100 :) does it with wit and panache.  She's fearless in her writing, for example talking about dealing with ones dildo collection (keep one favorite, get rid of the other 15).

If I have a complaint, it's that the writing is a continuous stream of consciousness conversation, interspersed with personal reminiscences, and as a result is fairly choppy in some ways.  The book is also fairly clearly written by an author whose first language isn't English.  In this case, it suits the theme of the book and concepts which don't have clear equivalents in English are left with the Swedish word and a near-equivalent in English.

I really enjoyed it a lot. 
Three and a half stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.
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I must be honest, it was the title of the book that drew me.  I didn't think we needed more books about getting organized and ridding ourselves of clutter, but I was wrong.  It was a thoughtful presentation on eliminating the stress of downsizing, or cleaning out a house after a death.  I loved the anecdotes about the her family and things they had kept for years - like the dingy in the red shed, only to find out that the grandchildren were not interested in sailing.  It was suggested we all start eliminating some of our 'stuff' when we are young enough to make the choices without hurry and with care and thought.  I found it to be a most inspiring read - I plan to start cleaning this weekend.  I just hope I haven't left it too late.
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A big thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for the ARC for my honest review.   The name may be off putting but it is well worth the quick read that it is.   I had just gotten back from a trip to Sweden and the name caught my eye.  What the heck?   I have been to Sweden loads of times and have never heard of curiosity aroused I requested it.  I have just gone through an unwanted divorce and so am clearing and cleaning out my house.  Not for the same reasons but sort of-I feel like its a sort of death.  This book has good tips is quick to read and is very interesting.  I found it to be well written, with a lovely sentiment.  It helped keep me motivated to continue in the cleaning of our house-which is a cleansing in itself.  I have told multiple people about this book and the concept (I rarely tell people about what I read-it is usually my private pleasure).  I would recommend this to everyone.   Thanks for the great read and inspiration.  Loved her attitude- I am somewhere between 80 and 100!!
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The author introduces the Swedish concept of "death cleaning," which is a considerate way to declutter your possessions so that no one needs to do this onerous task after your death. The concept is wonderful, but I wish the author discussed it in more practical terms. Besides suggesting that you start with large items and save sentimental photographs for last, there is not much useful information here. To be fair, I do appreciate how she addresses "hidden, dangerous, and secret things" (weed your sex toys! but save a favorite one for your enjoyment!). I also love the brilliant tip to create a "throw away" box of items that are important to you but have no value for your loved ones, who can then just toss this box without even looking inside. (Perhaps that would be a good place to store your sex toys?)

Unfortunately, these useful tips are few, far between, and interspersed with rambling, highly personal observations about the author's own history as well as oddball examples of Swedish home life. These interludes are dull and read like filler to me. 

Recommended with reservations, as a cultural record of Sweden more than a practical organizing tool.
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I requested this ARC from netgalley because of the blurb, which indicated that this book about decluttering and cleaning was similar to Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Death Cleaning is a term used in Sweeden to describe the cleaning out of someone's belongings either after death or in old age (in anticipation of death).  This sort of deep decluttering could easily have more universal appeal than for the elderly and, again, the blurb indicates that this is true.  However, the book really does focus on cleaning in these very specific circumstances and while there are a few good tidbits, I have found other minimalism, decluttering or downsizing books to be more broadly helpful.  If this is a topic you are interested in and read widely about, you may glean some additional perspectives from this book.  But, if this is a new topic for you, unless you are specifically cleaning out with this purpose, skip this one.
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When I picked up this book, I thought it was another one on the art of decluttering or another versione of Marie Kondo, so when I realize it was about cleaning up before you die I was a little bit shocked, but it is a real useful book and made me think about topics I never even considered. so I would recommend it to people, maybe not everybody but some of my friend, the hoarder for example.

Quando ho preso questo libro, pensavo fosse l'ennesimo che avesse come argomento il riordino, sulla scia di Marie Kondo per capirsi, quindi quando ho capito che invece aveva a che fare con il sistemare le proprie cose prima di morire sono rimasta un attimo interdetta, ma poi mi é piaciuto e l'ho trovato anche utile, anche perché mi ha fatto riflettere su cose che non avevo nemmeno mai considerato. Quindi credo che lo consiglieró a qualcuno, magari non a tutti , ma sicuramente agli accumulatori compulsivi.

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