walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Junk: Digging Through America's Love Affair with Stuff_, Alison Stewart

Another library pick.

I really loved this book! I may yet buy it for myself (there are e-versions). There are some real problems with the word-os (its vs it's, bears vs bares, missing words) and some extremely odd typos (ove where of is meant near the very end of the book!).

If you are looking for advice, this isn't a great place to get it. If you are looking for activism or advocacy, again, not your best choice. This is more of a Mary Roach style I Am Now Obsessed With An Odd Topic, Let's Go Interview Some Interesting People sort of book (but way less gross than most Roach books).

Stewart starts with personal context: cleaning out 50 years worth of accumulation in her recently deceased parents' basement. From there, she branches out into ride-alongs with junk haulers, people who do pest control on _actual_ pack rats (and the scientists who study their middens -- the pack rats' middens! not the pest controllers) and a visit to the artist/sculptor/creator of the palace of junk. She detours into spam (online, not pork shoulder and ham canned meat product), space junk (I loved that chapter! I spent part of my lunch with my daughter telling her about it and she grasped the idea and the problems of space junk really quickly), TV shows about junk, Freecycle and its founder, Repair Cafes and various upcycling businesses.

It was pretty hilarious to read the list of books on Deron Beal's desk and realize how many of them I own/have read. Clearly this is my sort of topic.

Stewart is a rare combination of someone who is very compassionate and loving and at the same time extremely insightful into why people do what they do -- and why they _don't_ do other things. She winds the book up -- almost inevitably -- with a little paean to mindfulness. It is called for.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It's a quick read and a really good one.
Tags: book review
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