The Art of Discarding

How to get rid of clutter and find joy
Narrated by: Karen Cass
Length: 3 hrs and 37 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A combination of tiny homes and a love of stylish homeware has left Japanese people hungry for advice on organization, decluttering and tidying up. Indeed, in this era of mass consumption, we are all drowning in 'stuff', despite our best efforts to keep on top of the clutter that collects in our homes, our office spaces and even our cars. All this clutter causes us mental anguish. However, as we all know, throwing things away can be difficult - it clashes with the values instilled in us from an early age of not wasting things, reusing items, and keeping things 'for a rainy day'. Simply put, we feel guilty about getting rid of things.

Enter Nagisa Tatsumi and her bold suggestion - that it's okay to throw stuff away. Tatsumi's book Suteru Gijyutsu, or The Art of Discarding, was a sensation when it was published in Japan, selling one million copies in the first six months after publication in 2000. In it, she argues that we need to learn to let go and tackles head-on the psychological issues that people have with getting rid of things, in particular a reluctance to discard things 'just in case', the desire to hoard things and guilt about getting rid of things that were given as gifts.

The book offers practical advice and techniques to help listeners learn to let go of stuff that is holding them back as well as advice on acquiring less in the first place; if we buy less, there's less to get rid of. She takes readers through a step-by-step process of getting rid of household items, clothes and books - and promises a clutter-free, calmer life where we are free from 'accumulation syndrome' and where, ultimately, less is more.

©2017 Nagisa Tatsumi (P)2017 Hodder & Stoughton

What listeners say about The Art of Discarding

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

good advice, perhaps better read than heard

I had a difficult time actually listening and would frequently be drifting away and having to re-listen to the same chapter. The way the book is written is better suited to actual reading, and the narration felt cold and distant. Nagisa Tatsumi provides many examples to illustrate her concepts and help you understand your own path based on your situation. These were the hardest to listen to and is where I often drifted away in other thoughts.

The ideas and prescriptive methods put forth by Nagisa Tatsumi are good and convincing otherwise.

7 people found this helpful

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The Art of Discarding

So much info to digest, but I'm sure ready to begin decluttering. Start Small: wise! Thank you, Ruth

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

An eye opener

Very good advice. I intend to begin right away. don't agree with everything but definitely great ideas.

2 people found this helpful

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Changed my discarding mindset

An eye-opening book even after reading two books about the Konmari method. Very enjoyable too.

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  • NY
  • 01-10-19

oh my gosh useless and boring and annoying!

oh my gosh useless and boring and annoying! don't bother it hurts your ears returned this book!

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  • Katherine Ratcliffe
  • 12-01-17

Waste of time

Anti- environmental and a waste of time. I bought this because Marie Kondo- who’s book the ‘life changing magic of tidying up’ references it. I think it must have been an entirely new concept when it came out- but having read Marie Condo’s books and books on minimalism, this is a tedious listen. It is basically just lists of scenarios. I could barely finish it.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Sparklett
  • 11-16-17

Nothing New

I was excited to get started listening to this book. Sadly I found that it offered nothing new & I felt that the option of giving to charity or a friend was not given as bigger stage as I personally would of liked. In all honestly, I did find that the tone of the book was a bit condescending, this could be just the loss of its intended tone via translation or the narrator’s voice. I realised after listening that it may also be tainted by what are my own first thoughts on hearing or reading the word discarding, which is throwing in the bin.This book is not for me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jo
  • 04-22-17

Started well then bored me to tears

Starts really well but you get the idea after the first few chapters - by chapter 17 I'd lost the will to live with it, so boring & basic & common sense

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dan
  • 09-26-19

Not that useful for me

I listened to this book all the way through but found that the value was quite limited compared to other books on tidying and organisation such as Kondo's work. The bulk of the text focuses on listing household items, situations in which we may avoid discarding them, and the consequences of not discarding in that scenario. If you are someone with the habit of holding onto things "just in case" it may come in useful "someday", or you are someone who avoids discarding due to fear of waste, then I could see that some of these scenarios could hit home. But I think this book didn't adequately address the emotional impact of tidying and discarding or give much help on how to manage it. There is a small amount of material on methods for choosing what to discard and ways to get rid of things without going to landfill. However, this didn't go much deeper than the suggestion to set time/quantity limits on items and sell things on eBay. I didn't think there was much additional insight. The author also doesn't address the danger of relapse and seems quite happy to endorse a cycle of buying and discarding frequently as a habit. Overall, I think the message of the book could be summed up as "You don't need it. Just throw it out". If you are someone who needs that message drilled home then this definitely does the trick. But to this end, I feel the book becomes repetitive with this same message being repeated over and over in slightly different ways. I don't think this book is without merit (hence 3 stars). I just think that its usefulness is quite limited both in scope and in terms of who it would be useful to. I would recommend this book if avoiding discarding things is by far your biggest problem (as opposed to the actual process tidying and organising).

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  • lindsey
  • 07-17-19

Rather funny

I really enjoyed this book. It is full of useful information and rather funny in parts.

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  • sharon
  • 09-04-18

Brilliant

This is what I should have read years ago, what a revelation. This book surely has helped thousands and will help thousands more. Thank you

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  • Mrs A
  • 01-10-18

Perfect spring cleaning inspiration!

Easy to listen to, basic concept repeated in different ways but interesting none the less

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  • Shashi
  • 10-05-17

Good perspective & manual to straighten them up..

Though written from a Japanese point of view, I found this book quite relevant for all humans and birds across the globe. It gives a good perspective & can be a manual to straighten the compulsive hoarders. The various examples shared help relate to the actual problem of accumulating everything and motivate to start discarding with or without discernment. Overall I liked the book and recommend it to my fellow hoarders.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kathryn De Jesus
  • 03-15-18

Most People Should Read This!

If you are a hoarder, or tend to keep things, or find that you are forever short on space & constantly managing ‘stuff’, this book is for you. The main message is; learn to throw stuff out. This book will not give you much advice on storage, because it’s not about how to better store stuff, it’s about letting stuff go.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 07-15-20

Better options elsewhere

The narrator was lovely to listen too but the content was greatly lacking in substance. Too much content was repeated and the author’s editor should have reduced the book in half. There was some interesting comments but if you are looking for help to discard and organise much better to read Marie Kondo and Dana K White which are more detailed, more practical and better written.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-22-19

Banal, repetitive in parts, underwhelming.

The narration is great, perhaps something is lost in translation with the examples used in Japanese lifestyle to Australian, a little cringe-worthy at times. The final two chapters on how to actually discard is useful.

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  • Nicole
  • 07-20-17

Interesting to read the original work that 'spark joy" phenomenon comes from - solid research and marketing background

And seems much more credible than the tweeness of Kondo's repackaging - because that is all her later work does. All the theory is here and environmental issues are better addressed - although still not very satisfactorily - burning of stuff is ok in the Japanese context but won't sit well in other places. It's sad that Tatsumi isn't getting the credit for this original work. I know that Kondo has credited her book as being an inspiration but really it is much more than that.

2 people found this helpful