Put a Spring in Your Step and Get Cleaning!

Hooray! It’s spring! The ice is melting, I don’t have to go out wrapped in a coat that’s like a duvet, and my Chihuahua/Mexican hairless dog can remove himself from the blanket he has been hiding under since November.

For many of us, spring is all about cleaning and organizing. If you’re a naturally tidy person, this is a great time to revisit what works for you. For messy people like me, this is the time of year where we try to do better.

Since I’m not really a big tidier, I find listening to audiobooks while I’m doing household chores very inspiring. So here are a few of our favorite titles to get you motivated –  whether you’re a Marie Kondo clone, or someone who will probably end up on a TV special about extreme hoarding. Check out the titles below, and take a look at our Spring Cleaning booklist for more motivation!

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Yes, I know I’ve blogged about this one before, but really, can you write a spring cleaning blog in 2019 without mentioning the biggest cleaning phenomenon of the year?

The KonMari method is revolutionizing how we tidy and clean our homes, by using the technique of cleaning by category, not by room. By looking at what “sparks joy” in your life, and then deciding what you really need, you can start to remove excess stuff, clear your clutter and enjoy a nice, calm, clean home.

Publisher’s Summary

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Read more and sample the audio →

2. Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White, narrated by Dana K. White

What I most love about Dana White is the fact that she is a former messy person/borderline hoarder. There’s something lovely about listening to her tell you that she’s been where you are, and hearing what has helped her to get rid of all her stuff. She talks about “Decluttering Paralysis,” which is that feeling when you just don’t know where to begin with the volume of stuff, and also “Decluttering Momentum” which is when you start to really see the effects of the cleaning, and then the whole process starts moving.

There’s no judgement in this book, which I find helps to really inspire you to break through all that mess, and also to get away from that feeling of “But I might need this old hair clip one day!” type of thinking.

Publisher’s Summary

You don’t have to live overwhelmed by stuff—you can get rid of clutter for good!
While the world seems to be in love with the idea of tiny houses and minimalism, real women with real families who are constantly growing and changing simply can’t purge it all and start from nothing. Yet a home with too much stuff is a home that is difficult to maintain, so where do we begin? Add in paralyzing emotional attachments and constant life challenges, and it can feel almost impossible to make real decluttering progress.
In Decluttering at the Speed of Life, decluttering expert and author Dana White identifies the mind-sets and emotional challenges that make it difficult to declutter. Then, in her signature humorous approach, she provides workable solutions to break through these struggles and get clutter out—for good!
But more than simply offering strategies, Dana dives deep into how to implement them, no matter the reader’s clutter level or emotional resistance to decluttering. She helps identify procrasticlutter—the stuff that will get done eventually so it doesn’t seem urgent—as well as how to make progress when there’s no time to declutter.

Read more and sample the audio →

3. The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals by Joanna Teplin, Clea Shearer, narrated by Tara Sands, Clea Shearer, Joanna Teplin

Things are probably going well for you if some of your biggest fans are Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mindy Kaling. As is shown by their very popular Instagram account, Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer run a very successful home organization business, and this listen reflects their unique spin on organizing. Their motto is that any space can look good – even your junk drawer!

This is a great listen for when you’ve already KonMari-ed your house, and you’re ready to get organizing and positioning your joyful belongings.

Publisher Summary

There’s decorating, and then there’s organizing. From the Instagram-sensation home experts (with a serious fan club that includes Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mindy Kaling), here is an accessible, room-by-room guide to establishing new order in your home.

Believe this: every single space in your house has the potential to function efficiently and look great. The mishmash of summer and winter clothes in the closet? Yep. Even the dreaded junk drawer? Consider it done. And the best news: it’s not hard to do—in fact, it’s a lot of fun.

From the home organizers who made their orderly eye candy the method that everyone swears by comes Joanna and Clea’s signature approach to decluttering. The Home Edit walks you through paring down your belongings in every room, arranging them in a stunning and easy-to-find way (hello, labels!), and maintaining the system so you don’t need another do-over in six months. When you’re done, you’ll not only know exactly where to find things, but you’ll also love the way it looks.

The Home Edit is a masterclass filled with detailed tips, from placing plastic dishware in a drawer where little hands can reach to categorizing pantry items by color (there’s nothing like a little ROYGBIV to soothe the soul). Above all, it’s like having your best friends at your side to help you turn the chaos into calm.

Read more and sample the audio →

4. The CHAOS Cure: Clean Your House and Calm Your Soul in 15 Minutes by Marla Cilley, narrated by Marla Cilley

My dad is INCREDIBLY tidy. When I was a kid he wondered whether I would ever grow out of being messy. I’ve improved with age (I think), and have even developed one of my dad’s main cleaning quirks  – which is obsessively vacuuming just before anyone comes to the house, and then apologizing for how messy the (recently cleaned) house is. My (and my dad’s) all time nightmare is when someone comes over unannounced, and I can’t do my obsessive clean around.

This is why I was so excited about the CHAOS Cure – the fact that CHAOS stands for “Can’t have anyone over syndrome”.  If you’re the kind of person who lets dishes build up in the sink, or you have a laundry mountain sitting in your living room, then this is the book for you. But never fear! Marla Calley aka the Fly Lady has the cure for you! With a ton of tips and small ways you can start decluttering, this is the perfect book for those of you who struggle with organization.

Publisher Summary

With the help of New York Times bestselling author and housekeeping guru Marla Cilley, you’ll cure your household CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) by changing your messy home into a soothing sanctuary

Are you suffering from CHAOS, otherwise known as Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome? If your house is a jumble of dirty dishes, piles of paper, and never-ending laundry, you are probably afflicted. But don’t give up hope, because now there’s an antidote: The CHAOS Cure. 

In her eagerly anticipated new book, Marla Cilley–aka ‘The FlyLady’ to the hundreds of thousands who visit her website for daily domestic inspiration–reaches into our homes to help make housecleaning more meaningful and life less messy. With a little bit of armchair therapy and plenty of practical, tactical tips–such as ‘On the Fly!’ quick fixes and genius uses for sticky notes–she’ll help us get our houses in shipshape order before we can break a sweat. Along the way, the FlyLady teaches us to embrace household maintenance as an act of self-care, and to enjoy the soothing satisfaction of an orderly habitat.

Before you know it, you’ll be on the fast-track to living CHAOS-free, surrounded by sparkling serenity

Read more and sample the audio →

5. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson, narrated by Juliet Stevenson

In Sweden, there is a specific type of cleaning called “döstädning”, which translates to “death cleaning” in English. The idea of death cleaning is that it’s a sweeping cleansing of unnecessary belongings that should be done sooner rather than later – because otherwise someone else will have to do it after you die. Bleak, but true.

Juliet Stevenson‘s ethereal narration adds to the peaceful vibe of this book, and makes it an uplifting listen, rather than a depressing one.

Publisher Summary

A charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life.

In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way listeners get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

Read more and sample the audio →

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STAFF PICK: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf has always been a favorite author of mine.  Her flowing prose, her introspection and her stream of consciousness writing style all appeal to me greatly.  My paperback copies of Mrs. Dalloway, The Waves, The Voyage Out and A Room of One’s Own are well worn and full of marginalia and post it notes.

How would my beloved Virginia Woolf’s style translate into audio?  Would I be able to get as much out of the audio version as I would the paperback?

To the Lighthouse audiobook by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse is considered to be the most accomplished novel written by Virginia Woolf.  Yet for some readers, it’s much too dull and slow moving.  I wouldn’t argue that it can be trying at times–because let’s face it, not much actually happens in this one.  The story focuses on a group of family and friends visiting their summer house just before World War I and then jumps to a decade later as some of the group return to the summer house after the war. In both visits, a trip to the lighthouse that sits just offshore is proposed. But what makes this book so wonderful is not what happens (or what doesn’t happen, for that matter).  It’s the way in which Woolf weaves her character’s thoughts together to create a deeply reflective commentary on small conflicts between individuals, large conflicts between societies, memory, perceptions, and time.

Juliet Stevenson does a marvelous job in her narration.  I cannot say enough about her wonderful delivery of a dense book.  I wholeheartedly believe that thanks to Juliet Stevenson’s reading, this book was somewhat easier to follow and enjoy.

So how did I fare trying out To the Lighthouse in audio? Wonderfully. Did I get as much out of Virginia Woolf in audio as I would have in paperback?  Absolutely. A great book is not always a great book in different formats; but, thanks to Juliet Stevenson’s wonderful reading and Virginia Woolf’s lyrical prose, the book was just as thought provoking, entertaining, enlightening as any other that I’ve enjoyed by Woolf. Now I just have to find a place for all of my post-it notes that I wrote while listening!

Let me know what you think!