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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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Books Help Put 'Stuff' Into Perspective

Did any new books find a cozy spot on your bookshelves this holiday season?

On the recommendation of a friend, I picked up The Postcard by Anne Berest. That last copy available at my local book shop.

No more than five pages into the book, I was up out of my reading chair, my rooibos chai tea set aside and cooling rapidly, making notes. This book is practically an award-winning advertisement for Artifcts. In the space of mere pages, I picked out these gems:

Anne, the lead voice for much of the book, confesses she could not have picked her relatives out of a photo and "felt a wave of shame."

How many of us feel the same way? The shame is often about "Why didn't I listen?" or the close cousin, "Why didn't I ask?" This is why we say, "Storytellers, Beware!" And how many of us are willing to invest the time and energy to actually get answers? While some enjoy chasing histories, it's not for us all, and then so much is lost.

Anne also equates her mother Lelia's memory boxes and archival boxes to "little coffins."

We feel the same. If you are willing to spend the money to protect items you care about with archival boxes, please Artifct them so you give life to the items within for anyone who comes across them. And here's an extra tip learned the hard way: if you are going to frame an object, first take pictures to use for your Artifct so that you aren't wrestling with glare once framed.

Lelia refers to the mixture of fact and family lore "blended stories" that fit her own ideas and theories about the past.

Family lore is important. It's instructive, it's real, it may be all you have to go on. Sometimes, we'd even say, it's as interesting to hear the many versions of a past as the facts that may be discoverable.

Excerpts from The Postcard, Ann Berest, highlighted

It's not until a bit later in the book that I saw another important theme emerge regarding the seemingly trivial 'stuff' we accumulate during our lifetimes. Lelia is rummaging through a desk drawer, flicking past check stubs, bills, old day planners, ticket stubs and more, and the book's author writes that these were, "[  ] All the scraps of paper we accumulate over the years, the kind future generations will hesitate to throw away when they're emptying out our drawers after we're gone."

You know it's true!

But now you have Artifcts, so no excuse. So much less guilt and loss when you declutter.

Of course, it's not always the scraps of paper. Later in the book when Anne is in the waiting room of the office of a private investigator she's looking at the knickknacks and debating: sentimental or bought to fill and decorate the space?

It's normal to wonder. It's also normal to be completely frustrated when you have no answers and it's a space more personal to you, like the home of a loved one.

When someone asks me about when, where, or what to Artifct, I think, "YES!" The fact is, now is when we live. Artifct anytime, anywhere, anything that speaks to you. It will become a part of your story.

And I wish you a more relaxing book read than I experienced this go around when Artifcts was constantly on my mind!


You may also enjoy:

The Three Things I Wish My Mother Had Artifcted

If Books Could Talk, What Would Yours Say About You?

The Artifcts Bookshelf: Books About or Related to 'Stuff'


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Artifcts Bookshelf: Books About or Related to 'Stuff'

Here you'll find a simple listing of a wide-ranging and growing collection of books, with 'stuff' as the unify theme. They were recommendations from others, background research, continuing education, and sometimes just straight up fun. Now and then we may post a link to an online article, podcast, or similar, but given how impermanent those links can be and the frustration paywalls can present, we'll mostly stick to books.

We use tags to organize them for your quick scanning. Click any image below to review the book over on the author’s site, Amazon, or elsewhere. 

What are you reading? Share with and we'll check it out.

(Please note: These books are literally on our nightstands, coffee tables, e-readers, and bookshelves. We are not paid to list publications here.)


The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

By Edmund de Waal, Jan. 2010


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By V. E. Schwab, Oct. 2021


Uncommon Type

By Tom Hanks, Sep. 2018


What to Do with Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want

By Marni Jameson, Jun. 2021


108 Beloved Objects: Letting Go of Stuff, Keeping Our Stories

By Jeff Greenwald, Aug. 2021


The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

By Margareta Magnusson, Jan. 2018


The Dig

By John Preston, Apr. 2016


goodbye, things: The New Japanese Minimalism

By Fumio Sasaki, Apr. 2017


Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

By Ingrid Fetell Lee, Sep. 2018


Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff: Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward with Your Life

By Matt Paxton, Feb. 2022


Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

By Gail Steketee, Jan. 2011


Book Cover of The Book of Form and Emptiness

The Book of Form and Emptiness

By Ruth Ozeki, Jun. 2022


Book Cover of What We Keep

What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object that Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning

By Bill Shapiro & Naomi Wax, Sept. 2018


Book Cover of Taste

Taste: My Life Through Food

By Stanley Tucci, Oct. 2021


Book Cover of Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

By Amor Towles, Mar. 2019


Book Cover of Minimalism for Families

Minimalism for Families: Practical Minimalism Strategies to Simplify Your Home and Life

By Zoë Kim, Oct. 2017


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