The Four Best Books on Decluttering, Organizing & Minimalism

Four Books -- Our Streamlined Life

I always turn to books when I want to learn more about something or am looking for inspiration. These are my picks for the four best books on decluttering, organizing, and minimalism. They’ve inspired me, taught me, and encouraged me, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you! (And they’re all available for Kindle, if you’re trying to keep your shelves clear!)

The Joy of Less A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay - Our Streamlined Life

The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay

From the publisher’s description: Having less stuff is the key to happiness. Do you ever feel overwhelmed, instead of overjoyed, by all your possessions? Do you secretly wish a gale force wind would blow the clutter from your home? If so, it’s time to simplify your life! Just open this book, and you’ll be on your way to a simpler, more streamlined, and more serene life. 

The Joy of Less was the very first book I ever read on minimalism and I can say without reservation that it changed my life. The first line of the book reads, “What if I told you that having less stuff could make you a happier person?” — and when I read that it spoke right to my heart. This book helped me realize why I was feeling like my stuff was holding me back, and taught me what to do about it. It starts philosophically and moves on to the practical, and is a great resource no matter where you are in your minimalist journey.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - Our Streamlined Life

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

From the publisher’s description: Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

I will admit that I was very slow to jump on the Life-Changing Magic train. Everything I’d read about it made it sound just a little too “woo-woo” for me. When I finally picked it up, I read it through three times in a row just to take it all in. Kondo teaches that instead of organizing we should focus on keeping only the things that “spark joy” in our lives … a concept it took me a while to absorb. In fact, her methods are very different from many minimalist guides: She doesn’t believe that all stuff holds you back, just the wrong stuff. I’m not there yet, but I find the idea of a life filled only with the things that “spark joy” to be lovely.

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider

From the publisher’s description: Organized Simplicity‘s aim is to convince its readers that simple living is the absolute best way to live.  Be it with house cleaning, family schedule management, personal finances, and managing the “stuff” you allow within your four walls, the only way to live well is to do so intentionally and simply.

The gold in Organized Simplicity is found in the first half of the book: “Living Simply in the Real World.” Tsh Oxenreider redefines simplicity, talks about the impact of stuff (our “modern-day slave master”) and gives practical advice on how to set a personal “purpose statement” that works for your family, whether you’re looking to calm your calendar or clean out your basement. It’s intentional, practical, and covers everything from financial well-being to improving your health.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

From the publisher’s description: Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

Okay, so The Happiness Project isn’t technically a book about decluttering. But the January chapter which discusses “tossing, restoring, and organizing” is so good it has still earned a spot on my list. Gretchen Rubin talks honestly about the impact disorder and clutter can have on energy. Her analysis of different types of clutter — nostalgic, conservation, bargain, freebie, crutch, aspirational, & buyer’s remorse — is spot on. And just thinking about her concept of a sacred “empty shelf” fills me with delight. (The rest of the book is definitely not about minimalism, but always inspires me to “clean up” my life and live more intentionally.)


Have you read my four best books on decluttering, organizing, and minimalism? What did you think? What are your favorites?

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