How a self-identified “amateur hoarder” managed to rid her life of the overabundance of “stuff” that littered her home.
Schaub’s (Year of No Sugar, 2014) “Hell Room” was the largest room in her home—and also the source of her greatest embarrassment. In it, she kept everything from childhood drawings and college telephone records to “dried, hacked-up hairballs” and “rodent fragments.” Eager to rid herself of the burden the Hell Room represented, the author decided to take one year and perform a “clutter-ectomy.” However, she soon discovered that cleaning up decades of accumulated belongings was far more difficult than she could have imagined. Almost everything in the Hell Room, including the rodent fragments, had significance for her. Immediately, she began fearing that her choices would lead to regret. Even after she grudgingly admitted to herself that she might be a “hoarder in the making” and had thrown out or given away boxes and bags of old and/or unusable belongings, large piles of stuff remained. Despairing, she writes, “it felt as if the Hell Room were fighting back.” As she continued sorting through her collection, Schaub confronted some of her past selves, like the “hippie” and the “punk.” Slowly, she began to realize that she had been collecting things as a way of defining herself and fending off mortality; to let go of things was to let go of her past and who she had been. In the end, a much-chastened and more self-aware author managed to almost completely transform her Hell Room—and the rest of her home—into a place where free space became as valued as things had once been. Part memoir and part how-to guide, Schaub’s book casts a lightheartedly humorous light on the First World obsession with acquisition while showing readers that less truly can be more.
A wry account of the author’s quest to “pitch, plunder, recycle, and sell.”