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

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  8,419 ratings  ·  1,660 reviews
DOSTADNING, or the art of death cleaning, is a Swedish phenomenon by which the elderly and their families set their affairs in order. Whether it's sorting the family heirlooms from the junk, downsizing to a smaller place, or setting up a system to help you stop misplacing your keys, death cleaning gives us the chance to make the later years of our lives as comfortable and ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 28th 2017 by Canongate Books Ltd
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Average rating 3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,419 ratings  ·  1,660 reviews


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LK
Right. Well, first of all, you can't make available a galley of a book on my favorite guilty-pleasure topic (decluttering), call it "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" and expect me NOT to download it.

Secondly - would someone please call their band Swedish Death Cleaning? That cannot just be left on the table.
Kathleen
"Funny, wise, and deeply practical..." Yes, yes, and yes! That last one may throw some people off, but if you're not discouraged by the title or thinking too deeply about mortality, this may be the right book for you. For anyone who is intrigued by the Marie Kondo method of tidying-up, but not on board with the "magic" and "life-changing" aspects, this book is probably a good fit for you if you're drawn to a more practical philosophy on why you should let go of the clutter.

This book entered my li
...more
Lisa
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Other than being utterly adorable, this book doesn't offer much insight beyond "get rid of your stuff before you die." My two favorite quotes from the book:
"Life will become more pleasant and comfortable if we get rid of some of the abundance."
"I have gone skiing in a bikini on a wonderful, sunny winter day."
Sheri
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, sweden
A nice reminder to occasionally pare down your possessions and discard those that no longer have value. In short, be considerate of those who will have to deal with your things once you’re gone. At least make a start so it isn’t so overwhelming for your loved ones to deal with someday. A quick and inspiring read about a seldom thought of, yet relevant topic. 3.5 stars
j e w e l s
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
FOUR STARS

It's no secret I've been on a minimalist kick for the last year or so. I've read lots of decluttering how-to books and aside from Marie Kondo's way-out wacky 🤪 method, they're all basically the same.

This book was a sweet surprise. I downloaded the audio version from the library and didn't know much about it --except that it was short. (YESSSS, no snide comments please! I'm trying to meet my reading goal and short audio books count, too.) The book is impressively written
...more
Vivian
Alrighty, so not what I was looking for. This is a gentle nudge about getting your house together with basic breakdowns of clothing, furniture, knickknacks, and personal items. Unfortunately, either I have my act together or am way more neurotic that this provided nothing new for me. I routinely clear out closets and always have three piles: keep, throw, and donate. Since other members of my household tend towards hoarding I implemented a rule: Buy something, get rid of something--actually, in o ...more
Erin
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: series
Upon spying me talk about this book on Instagram and Facebook, my mother asked if she should be worried. I was like "Mom, take this as advanced notice that you and Dad need to declutter the basement, the two woodsheds and like your entire house. My sibling and I would really appreciate." Sibling response " Haha, yeah right, I am not helping! Isn't there a reason you were born first?" Ladies and gentlemen, all kidding aside it is for this purpose that Margareta Magnusson wrote this little book. A ...more
Gretchen Rubin
A frank, bold term for this kind of clutter-clearing! Short and inspiring.
Diane
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: simplicity
This is a quick and gentle read on ways to declutter your home, with the spirit of making it easier for your loved ones to deal with your possessions after you die.

I was a bit anxious about reading this book, because my mother passed away two years ago and I still have a lot of her possessions that I need to sort through, but I was relieved by the author's calm and soothing tone. She tells stories of the "death cleanings" she's experienced, and the steps she's taken to sort her own things so th
...more
Bonny
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was excited when a great reading friend brought The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning to my attention. The title made me laugh, but it really does make sense. Döstädning is the Swedish word for the concept; dö is translated as death, and städning means cleaning. This can mean clearing out after a loved one has died, but it's so much more. Margareta Magnusson encourages people to downsize and begin to responsibly clear out their own things as they get older so relatives aren't stuck doing it all aft ...more
Emily
"Save your favorite dildo--but throw away the other fifteen!" is a jarring bit of advice from this brief and rather charming book by Swedish granny who gives her age as "between eighty and one hundred years old." In it, she explains her philosophy of downsizing and giving things away to reduce the work (emotional and otherwise) of cleaning up after her death.

I've never read the primary comp title for this book--The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up--because I am already a clean person and don't feel I nbook--The
...more
Trish
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read about this in the New York Times awhile ago and it sounded like it might be the right thing for members of my family. Margareta is a friendly guide but she can be refreshingly tart. She’s completed death cleaning three times in her life, twice for other people. She is matter-of-fact about death, the most predictable thing about our life. She allows us to see how this death cleaning can concentrate the experience of life, and can often increase our pleasure by forcing the recognition that all i ...more
Wanda
I’ve been practicing döstädning (death cleaning) for years without knowing it. My two sisters and I were responsible for cleaning out our parents’ home 20 years ago and we were all inspired by that experience to cut down (or at least try to cut down) on our own clutter load. We’ve had varying degrees of success.

Spring may arrive someday soon here in Western Canada and I needed some inspiration to get me back in the swing of things, purging the unnecessary accumulations of the past ye
...more
Tracy
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home, my-copy, memoir
I loved this book. The gentle voice of the writer reminded me so much of my German mother in law. It was lovely and inspiring. It is funny because I disliked Marie Kondo’s book so much I really couldn’t read it at all. But this I loved. It is kind of inspiring and I feel like I need to do some death cleaning of my own.
G.G.
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: practical
Recently one of my sisters told me that our mother had started sorting through her desk and throwing out old photos—those she could no longer recall where they’d been taken and/or who was in them. “You know, that Swedish death cleaning thing,” my sister said. Just after that conversation I happened upon Trish’s (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1...) excellent review of Margareta Magnusson’s book and decided I needed to read it for myself.

It does
...more
Laurie Anderson
A short and delightful book written by an elderly artist who has had a full life and is downsizing. She takes the reader through her processes of sorting, donating, destroying, repurposing and keeping the objects in her home. There are just enough anecdotes to keep the writing lively.

I was very sad when the book ended and desperately wish I could invite Margareta Magnusson over for coffee and cake.

Fans of Marie Kondo will like this one, too.
Janelle
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a helpful, fun, quick read for anyone intrigued by the Kon-mari craze of "tidying up."

I have watched my parents "death clean" after their parents and one of their siblings (although they did not use that term). They were overwhelmed by the tasks left to them and seemed determined not to let history repeat itself with their own belongings. Only time will tell if they succeed, however. It already seems that as each year passes, they become more attached to their belongings - or worse
...more
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
I thought this would be something like Marie Kondō's throw away everything style, but I'm not ready yet for death cleaning. Maybe some other time. *shrug*
Carol
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love the gentle art of Swedish death cleaning. The idea of it, that is. Not so much the book, though. I gave it two stars just because I think it's a good idea, even if really poorly executed. Thankfully, I won this book in a giveaway and didn't waste my own money on it. As a public service, I will save you the the cost of the book with a quick summary. I'd say that I'm also saving you time, but this book took literally 40 minutes to read - and that included my husband interrupting me to come ...more
Emma Sea
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pn-library
I love Magnusson's voice in this: very unique and quirky. I'd like to be like her when I am "between 80 and 100".
Leigh Anne
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More a why-to than a how-to, but definitely gentle.

Readers expecting the next Marie Kondo guide will find themselves disappointed by this short, sweet little treatise on tidying up. Everyone else will be charmed by Magnusson's musings on mortality, and the pearls of wisdom that come scattered therein. Death-cleaning is a thing Swedish people do: it's very important to them not to leave a mess behind for other people to deal with. From their pov, this is an act of love, sparing whoeve
...more
Edgar
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It might seem macabre to read about getting rid of excess items from your life in preparation for your death, but really - look around you. If you were to die tomorrow and your partner or child had to go through your stuff, would it be a pain in the ass for them? Would they say to themselves, “Why the hell did Dad have 2 cast iron pans?” or “Why did he keep this DVD player when he already had 2 Blu-Ray players?” Ok those are me specific. This book is part memoir, part musing and part instruction ...more
Dianna
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What will happen to all your stuff when you die? Will your spouse have to spend years mucking out all the junk in the house? Will your kids send it all off to a dump?

Margareta Magnusson suggests a better way: take your own stuff into your own hands. Don't keep stuff you don't use anymore. Find good homes for the things you don't need. Make it easier for your family after you're gone.

The author starts out by describing the cleaning she does after loved ones' deaths, and then outlines
...more
Susan Underbrink
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 this...so 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 d ...more
Vicki Cline
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-nonfiction
This is a very short and interesting book about cleaning up your stuff before you die, although we could probably all use its advice no matter where we are in life. Basically, look over stuff you no longer want and try to give it to family, friends, charities or just trash it. One unusual suggestion was to have a box where you put things you like to look at and reminisce about, perhaps, but which no one else would be interested in. Just label the box "burn this" so your legatees won't even have ...more
Grandma
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this. My kind of person. I've already completed most of the steps in her book. However, I still need to transfer all those photos to the USB flash drives I bought for this purpose a couple years ago. Taking this a bit further, I've written my obituary, have notes with links to buy a coffin at Costco, etc. I did the death cleaning for my mother, step-mother, father and I too don't want leave this burden to those dear to me.

Thank you Margareta Magnusson for inspiring me to do just a bit m
...more
Silvia Cachia
It's a short and inspiring book. Nothing new, but a good conversation about an unavoidable fact, -death-, and a choice, -do we want to deal with our possessions to better aid those who will deal with them when we are gone?

It was a light and pleasant read.
Nelleke Plouffe
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The audiobook (narrated beautifully and soothingly by Juliet Stevenson) was a treat to listen to while I cleaned and decluttered. This book is not aimed at my demographic, but I like it anyway.
Kendra
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes I read this old person cleaning book, don't judge me.
Nigeyb
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this as an audible deal of the day. New year, new you, or something. I also am attracted to books about tidying and decluttering. So, to be clear, and if the title was not sufficiently obvious, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson is another take on decluttering.

This one takes the magnificently monikered Swedish Death Cleaning as its starting point. In short, the book advocates sorting out all your own decluttering before you die, so th
...more
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Margareta Magnusson is, in her own words, aged between 80 and 100. Born in Sweden, she has lived all over the world. Margareta graduated from Beckman's College of Design and her art has been exhibited in galleries from Hong Kong to Singapore. She has five children and lives in Stockholm. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is her first book.

(from publisher's website at http://www.simonandschuster.com/autho...)
“I often ask myself, Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?” 6 likes
“Start with the large items in your home, and finish with the small.” 5 likes
More quotes…