5.11.2011

Booking It: May, and a sneaky Quotables: William Morris


Well, folks, the 11th has rolled around again, and it's time for my Booking It installment for May. I will be linking this post up over at Life As Mom, and you can still join in on the reading challenge for the rest of the year there yourself. Thanks for hosting, Jessica!

I read two books this month. The first I read for personal reasons and, thus, won't be discussing here today.

The second was...

by Peter Walsh

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less StuffIf you don't recognize his face from the book cover, Walsh is the professional organizer from TLC's show Clean Sweep, and he is apparently a regular contributor on the Oprah Winfrey Show, which I never watch.

This was a quick read, and to a borderline-CDO person like myself, it was like music to the ears.... (CDO is like OCD, but the letters are in alphabetical order, like they should be). Walsh has made a career out of helping people assess and adjust their relationship to their stuff and get organized, and this book is the step-by-step process on how you can do the same.

His argument is not simply to tell you "to clean your house," but rather, to cr eate a vision for the life you want to be living, and then how to let go of the psychological, emotional, and physical clutter that is preventing you from living that life.


The stuff that nightmares are made of.
Image Credit

Being a professional organizer, Walsh has had a lot of experience dealing with folks in extreme clutter situations like you would see on the A&E reality show, Hoarders (Have you seen that? It's morbidly fascinating - like a car wreck - horrible, but you can't stop looking). While your "stuff" situation may not be that critical, you could probably still stand to pare things down a bit (or a lot), organize what you do keep into a beautiful and functional arrangement, and then get busy living your life.

I'm obsessively fairly organized by nature, so there weren't really any "lightbulb" moments for me while reading this - most of it is just common sense... but if you aren't a naturally neat person and are trying to get organized but are a bit overwhelmed on where to start, this book would undoubtedly be very helpful.

Pros:

- It is a well-written, easy-to-read, friendly sort of book - Walsh seems like a genuinely nice person, and his writing style is kind and helpful.

- I like the fact that Walsh addresses the psychological attachment to things rather than simply telling you how to "get organized," because the emotional attachment to stuff is usually what gets you in trouble in the first place. He emphasizes that things are not people and gives you permission to let go of the "stuff" you're keeping, not because you use or like it, but because you feel "guilty" about getting rid of it because it once belonged to a relative or was given to you by a special person in your life, etc. I once watched an episode of Hoarders where a guy had taken that misconception to the extreme and wouldn't even throw away the hair his dog shed everywhere because he felt like he would be throwing away his dog - eek! Crazy and gross! So I think that is an important point when dealing with clutter situations.

- I like the fact that he encourages you to give things to people who really need it and emphasizes the importance of relationships with people over maintenance of "stuff."

- The book is neatly organized (duh!) into a systematic plan for dealing with your home, room-by-room. He gives very practical advice on how to deal with common problem areas in your home, and he makes it clear and simple for the organizationally-challenged.  

- Some good advice he included from William Morris (a British textile designer/artist/writer - also, a socialist, so enjoy this quote but take everything else from him cum grano salis):


"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."


(That was the sneaky "Quotables" installment for today, in case you were waiting for it...)

Cons:

- This book is not written from a Christian perspective. While Walsh does emphasize that there is more to life than "stuff" and that our priorities should be elsewhere, he places most of his emphasis on the fact that you could be "living a happy/fulfilling life" and "having meaningful relationships" if you aren't drowning in the chaos of too much clutter. He's definitely on the right track when he says there's more to life than "stuff," but, as a Christian, I believe there's also more to life than simply living a happy, organized life with the people you love. The Christian's relationship to stuff is one of stewardship - God has entrusted us with certain resources, and we are to be using them wisely in the way that most glorifies Him. We also need to keep in mind that everything we have here is temporary, and it's all going to burn one day. The valuable things are the eternal things. The book is missing the principle:

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." - Matthew 6:19-21
However, I wouldn't expect a non-Christian to include that aspect of the thing anyway. I can also appreciate the fact that the book's primary purpose is a how-to guide for getting organized, and, thus, doesn't have to include a philosophical treatise on materialism and the purpose of life. Anyway.

- The only other thing I would mention is that Walsh, a homosexual, thanks his partner in the acknowledgements at the end and also includes several gay couples in his anecdotes throughout the book. However, other than mentioning the same-sex names together as couples, he really doesn't push any kind of homosexual agenda. The book is about cleaning out and organizing your house, and he pretty much sticks to that.

Final Verdict: Overall, it's a good read, and it could be very helpful to you if you need a little help or motivation to clean out your home, simplify, and adjust your thinking regarding "stuff." It's worth reading.


Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse (Halcyon Classics)Incidentally, this month I also listened to the audio book,
a piece by one of my favorite authors for a fun, light read (or listen). It had a typical Wodehouse plot - a well-meaning young fellow finds himself in a couple of ridiculous predicaments due to his good-natured assistance with a flaky friend's hair-brained scheme to start a chicken farm, as well as his misfortune of falling in love with a young neighbor who is devoted to her short-tempered father. Through some calculated (and occasionally daft) scheming and his finesse with a niblick on the links, all comes out right in the end for our young hero (as it typically does in a Wodehouse book). While it doesn't compare to the "Jeeves" books, I still enjoyed it and had several laughs while listening. It's available as a free download from Librivox on itunes, which is where I got it. This is one for the beach!
I hope you're having a lovely week.... happy reading!

4 comments:

  1. Peter's currently doing some electrical work at a house and he came home from the estimate and informed me it was like walking into Hoarders. I went one day last week to help him, and it's not as bad as Hoarders, but it's well on it's way there - beyond amazing. I have a problem with paper piles (if you could see my house right now, you'd see what I'm talking about), but I'm all over purging and not being attached to stuff. Something I've certainly had to LEARN over the years - sounds like an interesting book. And hooray for Wodehouse, but Jeeves will always be a favorite (thanks for introducing him to me all those years ago!). :-)

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  2. I used to watch Clean Sweep, and I appreciated how Walsh gently tried to show the people that they could give up things without giving up a part of themselves. Thanks for your honesty with this review! And thanks for dropping by my blog!

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  3. I'm going over to Itunes right now and see what's available. I've got a large painting project coming up and like to listen to books-on-tape while I paint. I love P.G. Wodehouse!

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  4. “but the letters are in alphabetical order, like they should be). Funny ƪ(◠‿◠)╯ Me – I don’t read much – besides the ONE BOOK – and commentaries – and now blogs blogs blogs – and more blogs – and you with littles – how do you find the time – not only to read – but write such good reviews - and be an artist too? I'll be smiling about the cdo thing for a while. Thank you for this today Beth – I hearted it lots – and God Bless and keep you and all of yours.

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