We had a good laugh about how that trend had faded, at least a little bit.
How wrong we were: shortly thereafter, the Netflix series came out, and it seems like everyone is talking about tidying once again.
Kondo’s method is extreme, but it works. Her book caught me at the right time, just before a big move, and I appreciated her mix of whimsical inspiration and practical advice. She views tidying as a special event, not something you do every day. In fact, if you do the job completely, you won’t have to do it again.
Her radical approach takes serious time, but there’s a bright side: just think of how much reading you can get done while you purge, clean, and tidy!
Even if you’re not tidying the Kondo way, or moving anytime soon, many of us are looking to make good on New Year’s Resolutions to get organized, or getting a jump on spring cleaning now that we have the Polar Vortex behind us.
I always say the sign of a good audiobook is that I find myself eager to fold another load of laundry, put away every dish, wipe down the counters and maybe even the range hood. I keep working so I can keep listening.
I’ll listen to anything while I work, but these ten audiobooks are particularly well-suited to the task at hand, providing entertainment and inspiration while you purge, clean, and tidy.
10 audiobooks to listen to while you purge, clean, and tidy
Audiobooks to listen to while you clean, purge, and tidy
This is the audiobook that got me hooked on audiobooks. When we were first married, Will and I discovered that listening to a good story made the hours fly by while we cleaned and painted our first house, a fixer-upper that needed a lot of love. This was our first joint listen, a fascinating true story about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. The project began in 1857, and took 70 years to complete, even with the help of thousands of contributors. One of the most prolific contributors, submitting nearly ten thousand entries over the course of 20 years, was Dr. William Chester Minor, an American Civil War veteran from Connecticut, who turned out to be an inmate at one of Britain’s harshest insane asylums. The audio edition is fantastic. More info →
We can't have a list to tidy by without mentioning Japanese personal tidying expert (she doesn’t like to call herself an "organizer") Marie Kondo. She originally wrote her decluttering manifesto to help the clients languishing on her waiting list. It's become a global publishing phenomenon, and now, a Netflix series. I appreciated this book, and shared more detailed thoughts about it here. More info →
As you're digging up hidden things from the back of closets and drawers, this addictive mystery plays with the idea of what's buried there, and what might have been. When he was 19, Frank Mackey planned to run away with his girlfriend Rosie, leaving their tired town and oppressive families to start a new life abroad. When Rosie didn't show, Frank assumed she changed her mind and left without him. But 22 years later, Rosie's suitcase is found hidden in their planned meeting spot. Frank never got over her, and he'll do whatever it takes to discover what really happened. This is the third book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, but no need to read them in order: this is a great place to jump in. The fabulous accents in the audio version bring it to life. More info →
I love books about cities, architecture, and the way we live. We journey from room to room with Bryson in At Home, exploring a history of hygiene in the bathroom; nutrition in the kitchen; and sleep, death, and (ahem) bedroom activities in the bedroom. Bryson narrates the audiobook, turning his interest to previously mundane topics like paint and furniture and salt & pepper shakers in the way only Bill Bryson can. While this isn't typical humorous and bawdy Bryson, it was full of trivia, history, and Anglophilia. More info →
If memoir makes the time fly for you, this is a moving coming-of-age story. Miller grew up on Long Island, in a home that looked ideal from the outside. But hiding behind closed doors were stacks of newspapers, broken technology, and boxes of unused products—her father's endless struggle with hoarding. As Miller grows up and leaves that life behind for a career and an apartment of her own on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, she explores her complicated relationship with her parents that has remained loving in spite of the secrets she bore as a child. A tale about hoarding, yes, but its real heart is her tender exploration of love, family, and home. The author's narration complements her beautiful writing. More info →
This is one of my favorite engaging audiobooks read by the author. If you're in the mood for a laugh while you clean, Steve Martin's entertaining and juicy memoir about his roots and the real story behind his "overnight" success is sure to make the time tidying fly by. A great show biz biography, packed with surprising tidbits about his personal and professional life. I was extremely surprised by some of his longstanding personal connections. More info →
As a homebody with a healthy dose of wanderlust, I've been fascinated by Tsh's around-the-world adventure since the moment I first heard about it. With her husband and three kids under ten, Tsh leaves the States behind to travel to China and Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, Croatia and Germany and England and everywhere in between, for nine solid months. If you're feeling a little wanderlust yourself as you're spending time inside your own four walls, tag along on Tsh's global adventures, which she reads you herself in the audio version. More info →
Tish Harrison Warren is a wife, mother, friend, Anglican priest and campus minister. She explores ordinary days, chapter by chapter—making the bed, checking email, eating leftovers—and frames life through a lens of liturgy, the small habits that form us. Each ordinary practice is related to a spiritual practice, dismantling the subtle notion that a life of sacrifice and service has to look like a radical life. To her way of thinking, mundane does not equal unimportant. If you're looking to elevate your quest to clean and purge, reframe it through Warren's lens: tidying is a spiritual practice. More info →
Author Stephanie Land narrates her own story of doing more than a little tidying during her years as a maid, pulling long hours as both a housecleaner and a mother. Her tale of poverty and single parenthood is contrasted with the glimpses she catches of her wealthy clients' messy lives. Land shines a light on herself and others in her position as "nameless ghost" as she scrubbed tubs and toilets, tanged with the web of government assistance, and pursued her degree at night after tucking her daughter into bed. More info →
Jackson's most recent novel is about a complicated Alabama family and the "two Souths" it inhabits. It begins when Leia is summoned home to Alabama to clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and while she's there, she has to break the news to her conventional Southern family that she's pregnant. But Leia can't share her own secret before other powerful, long-buried family secrets start to pour out—her stepsister's unraveling marriage, her grandmother's worsening dementia, and a shocking secret hidden in the family attic. Jackson always reads her own novels (and other authors' novels as well—she's that good). More info →
Are you on a tidying kick? What do you listen to while you tidy, and what would you add to this list?