Self Sunday: Making Space to Have a Life

Audiobook suggestions from Contributing Editor Tom Walken for finding the joy in less stuff.

If your life is anything like mine, you’ve probably had the experience of spending time in someone’s beautifully neat home and then returning to your own place, which, to make an unfair comparison, looks more like a construction site. I always feel good when I’m prodded for whatever reason to clean and organize my living space. It’s “show work” in psychological terms—an immediate visual reward, but too often not one that becomes part of a sustainable pattern of behavior. For me, throwing things out and properly stowing what I keep is soothing. It creates a lovely physical and mental space that promotes happiness and creative energy. But such good habits are elusive for most of us. It’s easier to do that sort of organizing on impulse than to commit to a routine that provides benefits day after day.

  • JUNK by Alison Stewart, read by the Author
    A travelogue of observations on our overstuffed American homes.
  • THE JOY OF LESS by Francine Jay, read by Teri Schnaubelt
    A collection of intuitive strategies for less stuff.


  • UNSTUFFED by Ruth Soukup, read by Windy Lanzel
    Managing overstuffed lives.


  • JOY ON DEMAND by Chade-Meng Tan, read by Telly Leung
    A conversational guide to inner joy, and an AudioFile Earphones Award winner.


  • THE MORE OF LESS by Joshua Becker, read by the Author
    A handbook for getting rid of the stuff that keeps you from pursuing your dreams.


Many of the audios we highlight here help us accept the reality that clutter is truly the common cold of American life and that dealing with it is not a one-time project. For you, me, and everybody, it’s a mental commitment to minimize what we bring home in the first place and put away the things we already have—every day. Over the hours we allow these audios into our lives, they help us develop that commitment because they grab and hold our attention with the primitive power of the human voice. Combined with the emotional sensibilities and thinking of these authors, the narrators’ performances create the connection we need to be uncomfortable with the status quo and more optimistic about our capacity to do what we say we want to do.

This Learning by Ear has been edited from its original longer form in the print issue of AudioFile Magazine, August/September 2016.

Author: tom walken

I've spent most of my professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed me to some great thinkers and helped me become more effective in my work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps me grow personally, look at myself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

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