My Favorite Books on Decluttering, Tidying, Simplifying, and Minimizing

The first time I remember doing anything to reduce my consumption and gently remove myself from the Keeping Up With The Joneses rat race was when I traded in my giant Cadillac SUV for a Suburban. I know, bear with me. I was still in my early 30s and it was a first very small baby step. I had a loooooong way to go and I hadn’t really thought much about what it meant to live a good and fulfilling life.

It took many more years before I took the big step of moving into a much smaller (and cheaper) house than I had ever owned. That decision required the selling off of furniture and many trips to Goodwill with all my extra dishes, kitchen gadgets, books, clothes, shoes, etc. It was about this time that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up came out. That little book helped me go through all my possessions and free myself of excess, and it’s permanently altered my attitude toward stuff and spending money.

There are many reasons people choose to simplify. For some, it’s about wanting to spend more time doing fun things and less time cleaning and managing objects and physical spaces. For others, it’s the financial freedom that comes from living below your means. For me, it was realizing that I was living in a way I’d never chosen but had instead absorbed from the dominant culture around me. The big house, the big car, the Christmases overflowing with presents for the children, were all things I did without thinking. When I finally thought about it, I realized that lifestyle wasn’t good for me or my children.

No matter the reason you might be thinking about decluttering, I have a few books and other resources for you, from light and fun to serious and challenging. Here we go!

Light and Fun (but still challenging you to think differently):

Outer Order, Inner Calm. I love this little book and it really inspired me to do little things around the house to tidy up.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Very approachable but requires a lot of you. If you follow this book’s steps, it WILL be life-changing.
Cozy Minimalist Home. A very easy book on home decorating with a focus on coziness, comfortable spaces without a bunch of stuff.
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. A little book on decluttering and downsizing as you get older so your family doesn’t have to deal with your stuff when you die. I wish some people in my family would read this one!
Lose 200 Pounds This Weekend: It’s Time To Declutter Your Life. Written way back in 2000!

A bit more serious, with a bigger emphasis on how clutter and too much stuff correlates with poor life choices:

Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life. This one explores the relationships between our clutter and mental health. There is a saying that “how you do one thing is how you do everything” and I think that applies to cluttered homes and too many possessions and how we cling to the past and fear moving forward or letting things go.
Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way To a Richer and Happier Life. I skimmed this one but the premise makes sense: holding on to things crosses boundaries. Take charge in one area and you might notice changes in other areas as well.
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. One of the very first people to introduce me to the concept of minimalism was Joshua Becker and he still has a top-notch blog on the topic.

Clutter-free Adjacent: Books on more specialized topics that have a minimalist/intentional living emphasis.

Simplicity Parenting. I think the people in our homes that benefit the most from having less stuff are our children.
The Year of Less. A memoir of a no-spend year.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. A great book to read if you want to understand why too much choice and too much stuff messes with our heads.

There is so much good information out there on this topic. Ultimately it comes down to deciding that a more intentional, minimal, simple life is an important value for you and your family and finding ways to make moves in that direction. Let me know if there are other books on this topic that you would recommend!

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