The One that Makes Me a Neat Freak

Eve Schaub, Year of No Clutter (To be published March 2017)

When I chose this book on Netgalley, I hadn’t heard the first thing about Eve Schaub at all and therefore had no preconception whatsoever. As it was an ARC, it didn’t have the definitive cover, lest I would have stared and… passed.

I didn’t know she was a blogger mostly known for her yearly project on living without sugar. If I had known it, I may have not requested the book because I’m a bit tired of these yearly projects landing a book deal. I’m totally game when stumbling upon a blog that makes real-time updates of such a project, but translated into a book it’s often clunky and uneven.

So I came to the Year of No Clutter without prejudices to this book and I’m glad I did. I was looking for some versions of  Americanized Konmari and it wasn’t that at all, but it was fun and gentle and the perfect comfort read. It is not a how-to book full of magical methods to achieve minimalism. It is a memoir of a person who has hoarding tendencies, but who comes to terms with her own personality quirks and why she might have a thing for… things. The style is witty and fun and you soon feel that Eve is like your next-door neighbor. With a serious case of TMI.

Except she would never be my neighbor. This book is light and fun (and at times not so light, because hoarding comes from anxiety and deep issues and loneliness and insecurities, which is not the best topic for banter) – yet it’s such an American problem. I don’t say there aren’t any hoarders in France, but I can’t think of even a word for it. And for a typical Parisian, this book (by the sheer amount of stuff she owns and the number of square feet involved) feels a bit like Schadenfreude. Marie Kondo was a bit too woo-woo for my taste, but she as a Japanese has the same issues I face with far too few square feet to put my stuff.

Ultimately the book was a comfort read, even though perhaps for the wrong reasons. I have some clutter in my home, but I realized it wasn’t due to the quantity of stuff but to the scarcity of space. Eve Schaub made me understand that I am no hoarder whatsoever, because she seemed to live on a different planet than mine. It was fun visiting her planet, but I was glad returning to mine.

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3 thoughts on “The One that Makes Me a Neat Freak

  1. Oh my goodness, it’s interesting (and embarrassing) to read that hoarding is an American problem! But I can see that. Our culture presses us daily to BUY BUY BUY. It’s kind of exhausting. I don’t consider myself a particularly materialistic person and yet I confess that when I’m bored/lonely/blue the thought of going to Target and buying nail polish and a cute pair of earrings cheers me up. I’m working on that. I am no hoarder, though, simply because I come from a line of hoarders on my mothers side, and so it gives me great pleasure to get rid of things. Plus, I have a small house.

    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I tend to enjoy those year-long experiment books but I only read them sparingly. One I read years ago and enjoyed along the same lines was called Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine.

    • We are also encouraged to buy all the time, it’s just that our homes are small and also we are taxed quite a lot so that we can’t spend that much. Buying nail polish on impulse does *not* qualify as a hoarding tendency, otherwise we would all be hoarders, right? My Year without shopping seems quite interesting, even it has garnered some pretty negative reviews on Goodreads.

  2. Hmm, my sister and parents both have hoarding issues that I have somehow escaped and so they really do baffle me sometimes. Do you think this book would shed a little insight on them for me or is it really specific to Schaub?

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