Monday, August 7, 2017

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

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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