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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lili
  • West Coast
  • 01-19-18

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Get to the point!

What disappointed you about The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning?

Ms Magnusson is clearly too old to be writing a book. I don't care about the silk jacket intricately handmade in China, or how her parents lived abroad, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

What was most disappointing about Margareta Magnusson’s story?

where is the advice? The tips?

Would you be willing to try another one of Juliet Stevenson’s performances?

No way

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Great Title, Bad Book

I was expecting this book to be funny and irreverent in a "I don't want to bother anyone" sort of Scandinavian way. It was not any of that. Fortunately, the book is only 2:37 long. The narrator is also British, not Swedish.

I don't think Grandma has anything to add to the decluttering movement. Her ideas are too simplistic, "make two piles: Keep and Get Rid Of", and are not up to date. There are better and more current ways to manage your things in the 21st century. Grandma talks about how she put up a hook for her key and how she donated her encyclopedias to her local school! WOW! She also recommends GIFTING things you don't want from your house to others! There was not enough guidance for how to make tough decisions when you have an emotional connection to your things.

Grandma describes moving into a new, smaller space. She talks about the importance of measuring your new space and your furniture. Duh! Her philosophy on pets is obviously not the same as mine. My pets are family members. This Grandma just got rid of her pets when they became inconvenient for her. Grrrrr.

Yes, everyone needs to manage/edit their belongings. Your stuff will never be as important to someone else as is to you, so unless you want your possessions to end up in the dumpster, start "death cleaning"!

36 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not great not bad

I picked this book up as a suggestion from someone. Over all I thought the information provided was helpful.Not great as an audio book but is likely very good in paper format