Engaging Methuen Readers


Cleaning Your Refuge

Cover image for Making space, clutter free :There’s nothing like a quarantine at home to get you motivated to do some Spring cleaning!  One book on this topic that I have found to be inspiring is Making Space, Clutter Free by Tracy McCubbin.  I have read many books on this subject.  What I like about this one is that McCubbin addresses the reasons behind why we clutter in the first place, both psychological and societal.  She is also refreshingly honest about decluttering being a process rather than some magical, one-day affair.

Some other books that I have found to be helpful are:

The Clutter Cure by Judi Culbertson also addresses the root causes of clutter.

Essential: essays by The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  This collection of short essays from their website, The Minimalists, is great for dipping in and out of.  This one encompasses an entire lifestyle,  including technological and financial clutter as well.  Or, you can listen to their podcast about living a more meaningful life with less.

Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver.  Like The Minimalists, Carver is advocating for simplifying your entire life so that you can focus on your personal priorities.

girl in glasses with a mop, ready for major cleaning

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The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Books

If you’ve been pulled into the Konmari lifestyle by the newest Netflix craze, then you’re not alone. People can’t get enough of the process, from finding items that spark joy to folding tee-shirts in neat, satisfying tents. (Although we strongly recommend keeping your beloved books.)

If you just can’t get enough tidying, or if you like the idea of Marie Kondo’s method but not the details, try these alternative tidying books available at Nevins Library!

The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter by Linda Cobb

Image result for The Queen of Clean Conquers ClutterLinda Cobb lends a regal air to the process of cleaning your house, which is helpful when you’re feeling more like Cinderella. Her advice skews strongly practical – for example, check your antiques in buyer’s guides before you toss them. She also delivers a dose of humor that’s fun, if a little dated. (There’s at least one Roseanne joke in there.) Cobb is a big fan of upcycling too, with recommendations for turning fur coats into teddy bears and fruit baskets into tea holders.

Clean Sweep by Alison Haynes

Image result for Clean Sweep Alison Haynes bookAlison Haynes doesn’t limit herself to de-cluttering, but gives you great tips on household cleanliness as well. For example, did you know that you can turn nearly-exhausted bars of soap into liquid soap by soaking it in water, boiling it, and then pouring it into a reusable dispenser? This book is packed with interesting tips like that. It’s also very allergy-conscious and offers lots of great cleaning alternatives for people with sensitive skin.

For Packrats Only: how to clean up, clear out, and dejunk your life forever! by Don Aslett

Image result for For Packrats Only: how to clean up, clear out, and dejunk your life forever!Don Aslett was a household guru in the nineties. His books are charmingly illustrated with quirky doodles reminiscent of an old-fashioned newspaper comic strip. Unlike modern minimalists, Aslett isn’t overly concerned with what a bunch of extra stuff will do to the planet – he just wants you to have a tidier life. The book offers a lot of advice about the lifespan of household maintenance substances, like spackle and hoses, that will be useful to people forging into their first homeownership experience. Also: did you know that canned food goes bad in under 18 months? So much for my fallout shelter.

New Minimalism: decluttering and design for sustainable, intentional living by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici

Image result for New Minimalism: decluttering and design for sustainable, intentional livingThe impetus behind this minimalist manifesto is sustainability. As the books correctly points out, there is no such thing as “away” – as in, if you try to throw something “away,” it’s just going to end up in someone else’s backyard. The idea behind this minimalism is to donate, repurpose, and create less household junk going forward.

The Joy of Less: a minimalist guide to declutter, organize, and simplify by Francine Jay

Image result for The Joy of Less: a minimalist guide to declutter, organize, and simplifyIn case you haven’t heard of the STREAMLINE method, think of it as Konmari before Konmari. It’s an acronym that stands for the process by which you can minimalize and declutter your life:

Start over

Trash, treasure, or transfer

Reason for each item

Everything in its place

All surfaces clear



If one comes in, one goes out

Narrow down

Everyday maintenance

Easy, right?

Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness: one-minute tips for decluttering and refreshing your home and your life by Donna Smallin

Image result for Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness: one-minute tips for decluttering and refreshing your home and your lifeThis handy little book includes tips for managing your house that you might not think of. For example, it recommends pouring boiling water down your drains once a week to clear out soap, hair, and other stuff. It also recommends pairing chores. For example, when you feed the dog, sweep the floor at the same time.


Clutter – the new four letter word

On a recent snow day when our library was closed, I had a chance to get back to de-cluttering my house.  In the fall I had started to seriously think about how my clutter was affecting my life.  Does physical clutter make for mental clutter?  Would I be able to clear my head and focus more if my house looked like a clean, bright magazine spread?  Being a librarian I immediately looked for a book on the subject to read.  Clutterers tend to procrastinate so maybe this was a stall before actually doing the dirty deed of getting rid of stuff?… At any rate, I became fascinated with the psychology of hoarding and found the below two books most instructive on the reasons why one clutters and how to address the underlying issues of it to guard against the accumulation of more stuff while clearing the present detritus.

For a more personal account on dealing with the mess in our lives, I started reading Barry Yourgrau’s account of his struggle.  Uh, oh! I, too, have a bag (or two) of plastic bags I acquired from trips abroad that I am quite sentimental over…
In his memoir, Yourgrau refers to Randy Frost’s book for the science and psychology of hoarding. The Frost book is in our library stacks, so now that’s on my “to be read list”.
Well, since I already have a “to be read” list, there’s no harm in adding one more title to the collection… That’s not “hoarding” talk, is it???

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The Life-Changing Magic of Anti-Clutter Books

Just because we *love* the topic of organizing so much, here’s another post on the topic… (Editor)

How hemmed in by your stuff are you? As your kids drag back-to-school supplies and new clothes into your home, do you find yourself despairing, yet again, of any potential that you might ever manage it?

Don’t give up hope! These books are here to guide and inspire you until your life is once again in a state of blissful, organized happiness.

1573321The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

You’ve heard of this one. Kondo is a Japanese tidying expert who advocates keeping only what you really, really love. This book spent a long time on the New York Times Bestseller list for a good reason: everyone can benefit from its great advice!


823337The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter by Linda Cobb

Before there was Marie Kondo, there was Linda Cobb! With gentle humor, Cobb tackles a subject that, at its worst, brings most of us to tears. She takes cleaning room by room, just like your mom told you, but her accumulated knowledge goes way beyond dusting and organizing dishware by size. If you like her timeless style, be sure to check out her other housekeeping books, too.


1088946Simplify Your Space by Marcia Ramsland

Did you know that clutter naturally stresses you out? If your desk at work has been driving you crazy, then the mountain of papers and pile of pens may have something to do with it! Get to a zen state of calm with the help of this decluttering staple.



971549Cleaning: Plain & Simple by Donna Smallin


Bottom line: you should clean! This doesn’t have to be an onerous task and it doesn’t have to involve enormous quantities of bleach. Donna Smallin reveals the best household hacks in history, from white vinegar against ants to baking soda in the detergent. You’ll never look back!


806198Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff by Lori Baird

Need space? It’s there! Our final spotlight features myriad ways of storing, stowing, and generally organizing the things you own. (Let’s face it: you won’t be able to get rid of everything!) As many a grateful reader has learned, this book is particularly useful for families.



Everyone can benefit from a regular once-over. Whether you’re getting rid of old stuff or finding space for new stuff, these books are on your side!