The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning|Margareta Magnusson
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning : How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter
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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 d st dning, d meaning "death" and st dning 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 readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.


  • ISBN-13: 9781501173240
  • ISBN-10: 1501173243
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: January 2018
  • Dimensions: 8.55 x 5.77 x 0.56 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.54 pounds
  • Page Count: 128

Lifestyles: Bloom with a view

“A window box can change how you see the world,” write Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit, the green thumbs behind popular gardening blog The Horticult and co-authors of How to Window Box. Here, they cover plant-care basics with an eye to the particularities of a small indoor or outdoor space. They offer 16 boxes for consideration, including a Sand Box (cacti and euphorbia), an Ice Box (ornamental kale and pansies) and a Rain Forest Box (ferns). For each, you’ll learn how to cultivate, what soil blend and topping to use, where to position the box, how to master soil drainage and other details that can make or break a planting project. This is a great way for apartment-dwellers to dip a toe in the dirt.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning may sound like a quirky novel, but it is in fact one of the more readable entries in the growing genre of guides for “living smaller,” as Swedish author Margareta Magnusson puts it. She’s here to spread the gospel of death cleaning, or döstädning, a distinctly Scandinavian approach to decluttering. Having downsized from a large home to a small Stockholm apartment, Magnusson knows well the challenge of relieving oneself of belongings. But death cleaning doesn’t have to be a depressing chore; it can be joyful and a huge relief, both for the aging individual who performs it and the loved ones they will one day leave behind. “I have death cleaned so many times for others,” Magnusson writes. “I’ll be damned if someone else has to death clean for me.” Her gently biting wit courses through this slender volume; she is an affable but no-nonsense narrator with a feminist spirit. Riding the Marie Kondo wave (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), this is practical stuff that is charmingly told.

You’ve no doubt heard of Pussyhats—those knitted hats that made such a powerful visual statement at the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches—but do you know where the pink power started? I didn’t until I picked up the cheerful DIY Rules for a WTF World, written by Krista Suh, creator of the Pussyhat Project. Suh recalls being deluged with job offers and activist ventures after the 2017 march and feeling a bit lost. She listened to her gut (that’s Chapter 3, on intuition) and threw her energy into this book, a witty collection of brief lessons, pep talks and exercises designed to build confidence and a kick-ass, can-do spirit. Another way to think of it: a how-to-dismantle-the-patriarchy plan that starts in a woman’s mind, heart and body. This is a dip-in-anywhere book, with each chapter kicked off by a cute illustration by Suh. Although a wonderful resource for teens and young women, even those in the battle-hardened, wrinkled crowd (ahem) will find a needed boost in this book. And if you’re looking for that Pussyhat pattern? It’s right there in the final pages.


This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.