The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 2 hrs and 37 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (681 ratings)

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Publisher's 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, 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 rather 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 listeners 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 become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

©2018 Margareta Magnusson (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Recounting the author's tips and anecdotes from her own death cleanings (for departed loved ones and herself), [narrator Juliet] Stevenson sounds like she's reading a charming story and captures all the poignant humor and wisdom of this book." (AudioFile)  

What listeners say about The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

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  • Overall
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Home like story, very vivid. I found it practical

Narrator made this story as well. Without her voice and intonation touch it would a bit boring. Will certainly buy with this narrator.

22 people found this helpful

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Let the death cleaning begin

Several years ago, my grandma died in Ohio. My mom put all of her belongings in a Uhaul and drove the to her house in Missouri. Four years ago, my mom died unexpectedly, at 60, in an accident. We loaded up mom AND grandma’s stuff and brought to my house in Michigan. I donated tons of things first but still had a uhaul full. It was painful and gut wrenching to lose mom so suddenly and then being forced to go through all her stuff. I’m 41. My daughter is 22. She has repeatedly asked that I do not do what grandma did to mom or what both of them did to me. So now it begins.... I will listen to the book again for inspiration as needed. The performance was very soothing.

16 people found this helpful

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Sweet and inspirational, not really a how-to

A very short book designed I think to get folks thinking about their later years and what their survivors will have to cope with based on decisions they do or don’t, make now.

Love the narrator, and the smidges of humor. I like how the author refers to herself as being between the ages of 80 and 100. This book will hopefully inspire you to start taking stock of all your stuff, and maybe begin to downsize so that your survivors aren’t having to take care of piles and piles of your stuff that they have no use or need of.

The author offers some practical tips and broad guidelines, but this isn’t what I would call a self help manual. Enjoyable tho, and points you in the right direction.

14 people found this helpful

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Sublime. And over too soon it seems

Juliet Stevenson’s narration, breathes life to a wonderous plan, we all need consider. We’ve been “downsizing” for the past few years. It’s always hard to explain, but here it is! The idea of “death cleaning” is necessary and considerate. Margareta’s story makes it a joyful process. Thank you both for this gift. Don’t miss it...you skeptic. It will make even you smile.

25 people found this helpful

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Better As Memoir

This is an interesting memoir of a lifetime spanning mostly pleasant experiences, and Juliet Stevenson is a fantastic reader. I appreciated this book more when I put aside my expectations from the second half of the title, and just concentrated on Death Cleaning. Many of the author's suggestions simply did not apply to me. She seemed to be ridiculously organized. Perhaps too organized to credibly give advice about getting rid of clutter. Her suggestion to give your excess items to friends and family made me laugh out loud. (Here Maureen, I'm giving you my collection of outdated travel brochures from Berlin, Edinburgh, and Tokyo). There's a fair amount of awkward lamenting that kids these days don't write proper thank you notes and whatnot. And of course, her anecdote about the dog was quite offputting, in the context of downsizing.
However, as an essay by someone who has outlived a lot of people and seen loved ones into the next world, it was gracious and humorous. I cried when she described the death of a spouse, and laughed when she used the example of sex toys. I think readers might enjoy it in the context of memoir rather than how-to.

35 people found this helpful

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Slow and boring

Learned absolutely nothing from reading this book. Basically you should give things away, or sell them. Oh and if you are moving and can't take your old dog with you, have him put to sleep. After that I decided to ask for my money back. Also, I had to listen at 2x speed just for it to sound like a normal speaking voice.

5 people found this helpful

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Short and Meaningful

It is powerful to pair clutter with death. It felt like Juliet and I were sitting down for tea discussing Margareta's book. Not all of the conversation was relevant to my experiences. Regardless though, I am much wiser to have listened and shared.

9 people found this helpful

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Well done, especially after losing mom

I recently lost my dear mother and this book helped me tremendously. Thank you for writing a warm and loving book geared towards loss, grief, family, and perspective on possessions. Mom was a collector and hoarded multiple items of the same category. This book is one in which I will be listening to over and over as I sort through her many things over the next couple months or.so.

7 people found this helpful

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DeAth Cleaning

This book was worth the listen. We all have to face the inevitable and the journey there is a life of memories and things. Find humor and practicality in letting go of stuff.

6 people found this helpful

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freedom

Loved it. Much better than declutter books as you put into words what I have been thinking and feeling, but not quite doing, for years. I know it will be freeing for me. Thanks for the motivation. Did the garage yesterday. I bought it on audible so I can listen to it in pieces and get re-motivated:when needed. Thank you!

2 people found this helpful