This week’s blog by guest Willie Dalton, author of Three Witches in a Small Town.
I had been putting it off for months. I’d seen the book advertised in countless places and endorsed by many celebrities. “You have to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!”
I thought it sounded interesting and no doubt I could definitely use some decluttering in my life . But I’d read all the blogs, all the tips, and liked all the Facebook pages about minimizing and none of the advice had ever had a lasting impression. Could this book be that different? Finally, I caved and bought the book.
To my surprise it is very different from all of the other advice out there. The author’s method is from a lifetime of observing and studying habits and patterns to get it down to a step by step system of what works and what can be maintained. You begin with things of less sentimental value and end with the items that are hardest to sort. She claims if you do it exactly as she says you will NEVER have to do it again. Sounds good to me!
This method “the KonMari” way of decluttering is also becoming known as the “joy method.” You hold each item and ask yourself if it brings you joy, if it does, you keep it and if not you get rid of it. She emphasizes most people believe items bring them joy just because they did at one time, but if that time has passed you thank it for the joy it brought to you and release it. It might sound silly to thank an inanimate object but I have to admit it made it a little easier for me to say goodbye to some ratty old t-shirts that I once adored.
The goal isn’t to get rid of as much as possible but to focus on surrounding ourselves with things that bring us joy and happiness. She says if we are truly honest about the things that delight us and let go of all the extra “stuff” our homes automatically become more manageable and less cluttered. Of course we all have things that need to be saved for other purposes that don’t bring us anything resembling joy and she has a method for managing that as well.
I’m only getting started in the sorting process but so far I’ve already discarded three full garbage bags of shirts. I have very high expectations of becoming the organized person I’ve always wanted to be now that I have a true system to follow. But you might want to check back with me in a year….
Jack’s Wednesday guest post is actually on Wednesday again – – –
Last night Wendy and I were the guests of an informal book group in Abingdon VA.
As we followed one of the members along the winding road to the house where they were meeting we passed more and more exceedingly imposing residencies and speculated on what might be awaiting us.
However any fears we had were quickly allayed as the rest of the members trickled in. We had forgotten that the group had visited the bookstore earlier in the year, had all bought copies of ‘The Little Bookstore’ and were very well versed in our adventures.
They all came in clutching their copies of the book – each copy with post-it notes sticking out from favorite pages and passages. We were among old friends!
We have often remarked upon how completely different these occasions tend to be. Of course there are book clubs, reading groups, friends of the library groups and writing clubs and they are each bound to have a different focus. We certainly never know exactly what to expect, which is why we tend to be a bit nervous of them. what’s interesting is that I see similarities to my singing career over the years – gigs were often like that too.
Whenever we attend an event we start off by trying to judge what folk want to hear. Will it be writing advice, getting an agent advice, finding a publisher advice, more about Big Stone Gap?
But this was close to being unique – a whole group who had already read the book and visited us in the bookstore. We proceeded to have a really great evening of personal stories, reminiscences, parallel experiences and our own continuing adventures beyond ‘the book’. Unusually, we were even able to open up a bit on some less happy things that were hinted at in ‘The Little Bookstore’ or followed on from its publication. That’s something we would definitely only do in the company of old friends!
To finish, I should say that the evening started with me as the only man in the room, but we were eventually joined by our host’s husband and his name is Moffat – and that’s also the name of a town in Scotland that I visit every two years on my group tour.
Oh – and we ended with some songs!
Jack gets to do the Monday book this week –
The Big Short – Michael Lewis
Of course, the movie is probably just as famous as the book and I’ll have something to say about that later.
Our good friend and financial guru David recommended this to us because he reckoned it was one of the most eye-opening books he’d ever read about the financial shenanigans that led to the great meltdown of 2008. He described it as “really, really frightening” and he should know!
He also said that he saw no evidence that any lessons had been learned since then (except perhaps in Iceland, where they jailed the bankers, changed the banking regulations and turned around their economy in record time).
The book follows the experiences of a number of people who separately stumbled across an enormous flaw in the mortgage market based on a complete lack of oversight by the rating agencies. The folk involved had different motives for pursuing this: some realized they could make enormous amounts of money by betting that the market would crash, while others were more interested in exposing the crooks and getting the banking regulations changed. The book follows these characters as their paths cross and they become aware of each other, ultimately more or less working together. As they variously stumble across ever more blatant disregard for financial common sense among financial professionals who should also have seen what was wrong, they begin to home in on the rating agencies. That’s when they discover that these agencies, supposedly holding the banks to account, are actually in their pockets.
So, what of the movie?
I actually enjoyed it just as much as the book but for different reasons. Of course the movie has to be much shorter and that’s hard to pull off. You need to keep the essentials and be careful what gets cut out. I think, in this case, it was a good idea to not have the author of the book write the screenplay (in fact I think it almost always is.) I recently watched a film that was directed and cast by the author of the book it was based on, and who also wrote the screenplay – it went straight from a limited theater run to the Netflix ‘B list’ with barely a pause.
So, what’s the ‘take away’ from the book? In the case of this reader, a profound belief that human greed will always manage to dress itself in respectable clothes, attend the right Church, give to the most fashionable charities (or start one) and find the most influential politicians to bribe.
Something else I took away – potential move to Iceland – – –
Jack’s Wednesday (just) guest post –
For some reason that I can’t fathom we’re getting a lot of out of town (and out of State) visitors to the bookstore and the cafe just now. It’s not the season for school reunions or vacations, and although some folk have deliberately detoured this way because of reading ‘The Little Bookstore’ many of them haven’t.
It seems to be a completely random thing – just passing through or maybe here for a funeral or family visit.
Quite apart from the welcome business, it adds to the busyness! I love it when strangers come in when we have local loyal friends of the place just hanging out and everyone ends up swapping stories.
Two examples from today –
1) A couple drove for five hours from Elkins in WV yesterday because they had read the book. They visited yesterday afternoon then came back this morning as soon as we opened and stayed on for lunch. As they were leaving they said they’d be back soon. Of course they had dinner in town last night then stayed overnight in a local hotel and had breakfast before heading back here and encountering the hanging out crowd.
2) A gentleman drove up from Johnson City simply because he heard a repeat broadcast on the local NPR station of an interview with Wendy about the store. As soon as he heard my voice he said “you’re the guy on WETSfm that has the Celtic show”. I’ve been presenting Celtic Clanjamphry every week for almost ten years as an unpaid volunteer and, in return they now count that as sponsorship by Tales of the Lonesome Pine, so we get a mention on air as well.
Nobody can spell Clanjamphry!
Just two examples of how new customers arrive at the door. Of course they are, for different reasons, already pretty well primed to be ‘on side’. The challenge for anyone who runs this kind of shop is to try to read the personality of the completely ‘cold callers’ and respond appropriately. As I said at the beginning we had a good few of them as well. One couple were quiet and focused and I simply responded to their occasional request while another guy started like that, then encountered a kitten and became much more engaged. On the one hand you have to like people to do this job, but on the other hand you have to be able to quickly read people too.
It’s still great fun!
Jack’s guest Monday review (on Tuesday – just) –
Ian Rankin – The Rebus Series
Not so much a book review, as an author review this week –
I’m not usually one for novels, preferring biographies and memoirs for the most part. But I do have just a few novelists I like and one of those is Rankin. I hasten to add that it’s not that I like every book he’s written, but the Rebus series do stand out, in my opinion.
It’s probably because both Rankin and his character have their roots in West Fife (my home territory) but are resident in Edinburgh (a place I know well). In the series Rebus frequently revisits Fife and the Edinburgh that forms the backdrop to most of the books is very lovingly and accurately portrayed.
The books are well written, full of believable characters and with plots that grip you to the last page. This is noir detective with a Scots accent and firmly in the world of Philip Marlowe.
The Edinburgh he describes is a mixture of the historic center after dark and the run-down housing schemes on the outskirts. His plots are always relevant to the times and clearly involve a lot of careful research.
Rebus is a complex guy with a troubled personal life, who is looked on with suspicion by most of his colleagues and especially by his superiors. During the course of the series he moves from being a regular working cop to the branch that deals with internal matters such as bribery and collusion with criminals and gangs.
All the books except the last one have been made into TV dramas, with half being done by the BBC and the other half by ITV. The casts were different for each series and, although presenting contrasting interpretations, both were excellent.
I have read other novels by Rankin that were not part of the Rebus series and didn’t find them as compelling I’m afraid.