#BookReview: Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub


About the Book:

From Hoarders to The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the question of what to do with all of our stuff seems to be on everyone’s mind. Eve Schaub’s new memoir is the tale of how one woman organized an entire room in her house that had been overtaken by pointless items. It’s also a deeply inspiring and frequently hilarious examination of why we keep stuff in the first place—and how to let it all go.

Eve O. Schaub graduated from Cornell and Rochester Institute of Technology. She has written for Vermont Life and Vermont Magazine, among others. During her family’s year of no sugar, Schaub blogged regularly and was often a guest on WAMC, New York’s NPR affiliate, as well as a regular visitor to Vermont Public Radio. She lives in Vermont with her family.

My Thoughts:

I requested this book from NetGalley because I can’t resist books about clutter, which is kind of ironic given that my natural tendency is to hoard stuff!

I have to be honest and say that the first couple of chapters of this book didn’t pull me in,  reading about someone’s room full of clutter that they know has a dead mouse in, and also that a cat has peed all over made me feel a bit squeamish. This isn’t the kind of clutter situation that I can identify with. I do tend to want to keep things but I’m also quite obsessive about cleaning.

I’m so glad that I decided to give the book another go through because from the point when Eve starts to explore what makes a hoarder, and what makes her the way she is I was fascinated and I could really identify with some of the things she discovered about herself.

There is a point where she writes that as a child she believed she had to keep everything so that she’d have enough stuff to fill her own home when she was grown up, and that is just how I was too. I kept all my childhood ornaments for years because I believed that shelves had to be filled with stuff. The idea that some people had empty surfaces in their home was alien to me. Eve’s father had a problem with clutter so she sees that her issues partly came from seeing what his house was like. My mum was very sentimental and could never get rid of things that people had given her, so I can see how Eve, and I, ended up being clutter bugs.

The part that really got to me was when Eve talks about her belief that if she lets go of things that she is sentimental about then she risks losing the memory of that particular point in time: that by holding on to the object, she has a trigger to bring back the memories instantly. I struggle with this too. It’s really hard when you get to an age where you’ve lost people who meant the world to you, how do you let go of the things they gave you? I felt Eve’s pain as she tried to work out which things to keep, and which to let go of.

Eve has an issue with making decisions, she really fears making a wrong choice and believes this feeds into her obsession with keeping things. This was eye-opening for me. I’ve always been indecisive but have never connected that to the way I keep things, but it makes total sense that if you really dread making a bad decision that you would find it hard to be confident in the things you get rid of. Eve gradually learns that it’s not the end of the world if you get rid of something and later wish you hadn’t, and that’s something I’ve learnt during my regular de-cluttering sessions. To be honest, I’ve agonised over some of the things I’ve being considering getting rid of but once they’re out of my house I’ve never regretted any of it. Objects might hold memories but they can’t bring a person back, it’s how you feel in your heart that matters.

One of the things Eve struggled with most was dealing with her paperwork. She couldn’t get rid of any of it without reading it first and then had to deal with whatever memory was attached before she could move on to the next lot of papers. It really struck a chord with me when Eve said: ‘… I keep souvenirs even of negative occurrences in my life, for fear that without them I would forget that event and even any lesson learnt from that event’. It sounds utterly ridiculous to keep paperwork from the worst moments of your life, but I used to be exactly the same. My mum kept some papers that were so painful to her but she felt she couldn’t ever shred them. When she died I took the papers for safe-keeping, and added some of my own from the year my mum was dying. I kept all of her hospital letters because I didn’t want to forget, and yet I was trying to hard not to drown in all the trauma that happened in that year. I moved in with my then new boyfriend (now my husband) the year my mum died and I took all the paperwork with me because I just couldn’t leave it behind – it felt like it was haunting me. Then one day I decided enough was enough. I burnt the lot and it was so therapeutic to let it go for both me, and my mum’s memory. I try to always remember now that the things we keep will one day be someone else’s problem to deal with and it helps me get rid of stuff that’s not really important in the grand scheme of things. Eve learns the same lesson in a different way. We can’t keep everything, we don’t have the room. So if you can only keep a fraction of the stuff, pick the good stuff, the happy stuff.

This isn’t a how-to book, it’s not about helping you clear your clutter. It is one woman’s open and honest journey through her own battle with clutter but in the process of reading you will probably recognise yourself in Eve, as I did, and it will spur you on to deal with your own clutter.

I highly recommend this book. Year of No Clutter is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:


Serial memoirist Eve O. Schaub lives with her family in Vermont and enjoys performing experiments on them so she can write about it.

During 2011 Eve wrote a blog about her family’s attempt to live and eat for a year without any added sugar in their food, which became the book Year of No Sugar (Sourcebooks, 2014). She has been a guest on theDr. Oz Show, and FOX and Friends, and has appeared in numerous print and online outlets. She considers not hyperventilating on national television one of her greatest accomplishments.

Her upcoming book, Year of No Clutter, (March, 2017) reveals her deepest, darkest secret: clutter. In it, she details her struggle to transform herself from a self-described “clutter-gatherer” into a neat, organized person who can actually walk through every room of her house and does not feel the need to keep everything from childhood raincoats to cat fur. And yes, the family gets roped in on this one too.

Eve holds a BA and  BFA from Cornell University, and a MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. At various times she has been a newspaper reporter, magazine columnist, and copy writer. She likes to say that she has written for everything but the classifieds section, but in truth she did that too.

(Author bio taken from her website: EveSchaub.com)


38 thoughts on “#BookReview: Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

  1. Very interesting review. Hoarding is a topic of interest to me because I have lived both in a house of clutter and one without. The psychology behind why people clutter is very interesting to me. Great review!

    • Thank you. The psychology of hoarding fascinates me too. This book is just one woman’s experience but it still gave me such an insight into my own mindset. It must be interesting to have lived in a cluttered house and then one with no clutter. I’m much better at de-cluttering these days and quite enjoy sorting my things out and getting rid of stuff.

    • It’s a really good read – not a how-to but it does make you think about why you keep certain things, which helped me. It’s hard to know where to start with de-cluttering when the mess feels overwhelming. I started doing one section of a room at a time and gradually worked my way through the house.

  2. Great review. This sounds different but still an interesting and important book. I have a problem getting rid of souvenirs or even anything with sentimental value. For instance; if someone gives me chocolates, I am likely to keep the empty box 😦 This sounds like the book for me.

    • Thank you. I’m like you – I’m very sentimental about things and that makes it so hard to sort it all out. This book isn’t a how-to but it really makes you think about why you keep things, and to be ok with letting some of it go.

  3. Wow, sounds really interesting, this is one thing i don’t have a problem with and given the size of my flat that’s a good thing! I’ve never really grown an attachment to things and throw things away easily, sometimes too easily as I often find myself looking for something that it turns out​ was thrown away a few months ago! 😂

  4. This sounds really interesting! There really are psychological things that go on with clutter, and with the process of cleaning, and it sounds as though she really shares that. I’m glad you found it worth the read.

  5. I have to admit that this wouldn’t have been a book that I was drawn to but after reading your review, it might be. I tend to be a bit of a hoarder (I blame genetics – my dad was the same!) and the things that I find the hardest to part with are those with memories attached (when I lost my parents and had to clear their house I wanted to keep everything that reminded me of them but forced myself to be ruthless!). A lovely review, thank you Hayley.

    • I think hoarding tendencies run in families – my mum was very sentimental about her possessions and I’m the same. I’ve learnt to be more ruthless as the years go by but I have to keep on top of de-cluttering because I do slip back to old habits. Thank you x

  6. I can relate to a lot of this. It’s funny about the indecisiveness – it’s absolutely true. I think I shared this trait in the past as well. Ironically, I didn’t even know this was “a thing” until I half moved out (I mean, for half the week, living with my boyfriend but also with my mom for half the week). Since I wasn’t actually moving out, I didn’t take a lot of stuff. In a short while I realized that living with less stuff gives you so much more breathing space.. I bet a lot of people experience that when they move out for college or university (I never did). So I can relate to most of the stuff in this review.

    • I didn’t realise that about indecisiveness either; it’s funny how you read something and recognise your own traits – this book was eye-opening for me. I think it was when I first moved in with my boyfriend that I really realised how much stuff I had that needed to be sorted out. I think there’s something about having your own space and wanting it to be nice that makes you re-assess whether you need all that stuff.

  7. Ok, I got stuck at the part about the cat and mouse….. if there is a cat then why is there a dead mouse, wouldn’t the cat eat the mouse?? LOL But yes, that’s a bit more clutter than I could relate to even being the packrat that I am.

  8. Fabulous review! I can totally relate to the image of an object being link to a memory, and what happens to the memory when you give up the object? I think I need to read this 🙂

  9. This is suchhhh a wonderful review. I absolutely love how you relate your own life to the one of Eve’s. I honestly wouldn’t have ever imagined myself reading a book like this in my life, but after your review, I think I’ll end up checking it out some day when I feel like my own clutter might become too overwhelming. The value behind every object we hold is insane, and this book just reminded me of why there are still things I keep when someone else would’ve easily thrown it away.

    – Lashaan

    • Thank you so much. I did worry that I’d put too much of myself in the review so I really appreciate you saying that. I’m gradually getting better at de-cluttering – I regularly sort through my things and get rid of stuff. This was a good read and does make you think about why we keep the things we do.

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