Digging Through America's Love Affair with Stuff
By Alison Stewart


304 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, Mobipocket, EPUB, PDF, Trade Paper

Cloth, $26.99 (US $26.99) (CA $31.99)

ISBN 9781613730553

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Apr 2016)


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Junk has become ubiquitous in America today. Who doesn't have a basement, attic, closet, or storage unit filled with stuff too good to throw away? Or, more accurately, stuff you think is too good to throw away.When journalist and author Alison Stewart was confronted with emptying her late parents' overloaded basement, a job that dragged on for months, it got her thinking: How did it come to this? Why do smart, successful people hold on to old Christmas bows, chipped knick-knacks, VHS tapes, and books they would likely never reread? She discovered she was not alone.Junk details Stewart's three-year investigation into America's stuff, lots and lots and lots of stuff. Stewart rides along with junk removal teams from around the country such as Trash Daddy, Annie Haul, and Junk Vets. She goes backstage to a taping of Antiques Roadshow, and learns what makes for compelling junk-based television with the executive producer of Pawn Stars. And she even investigates the growing problem of space junk—23,000 pieces of manmade debris orbiting the planet at 17,500 mph, threatening both satellites and human space exploration.But it's not all dire. There are creative solutions to America's overburdened consumer culture. Stewart visits with Deron Beal, founder of FreeCycle, an online community of people who would rather give away than throw away their no-longer-needed possessions. She spends a day at a Repair Café, where volunteer tinkerers bring new life to broken appliances, toys, and just about anything. Stewart also explores communities of "tiny houses" without attics and basements in which to stash the owners' trash.           Junk is a delightful journey through 250-mile-long yard sales, and packrat dens, both human and rodent, that for most readers will look surprisingly familiar.


"Finally, a book that explains my lava lamp, boxes of cassette tapes, and three pairs of clogs. Thank you, Alison Stewart! This book is overdue, and I promise not to put it on one of my piles." —Hoda Kotb, cohost of the Today Show 

"To my dear beloved survivors: when you one day clean out my basement, you'll find a copy of Alison Stewart's Junk. Sit down on the pile of New Yorkers, turn on that halogen floor lamp I used in college, crack open a can of Jolt Cola (you'll find about three cases), and read about why all the stuff around you isn't necessarily junk—except for that stack of VHS tapes. That's just crap." —Mo Rocca, correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and host of My Grandmother's Ravioli

"Somebody's going to say it, so let me be the first: Junk is a treasure. It's an enlightening look into our modern world featuring space garbage, spam, and chicken-shaped table lamps. Buy it, read it, and store it in the attic." —A. J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically

"If you suspect that you are holding onto things that hold you back in your life, you want to read Junk by Alison Stewart. Whether they are the physical items stuck in a drawer or ideas stuck in your head, Junk will make you think about what you keep and why." —Cheryl Hunter, Life Coach and author of Lose It: Turn Setbacks into Success

"Absorbing and enjoyably compelling research on the packrat conundrum in our society." —Kirkus Reviews

"[A]n engaging narrative." —Booklist

"Stewart's compelling and readable book is for those who are fascinated by stuff and are in search of something other than decluttering or organization manuals." —Library Journal

Author Biography

Alison Stewart is an award-winning journalist whose twenty-year career includes anchoring and reporting for NPR, NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News. She got her start covering politics for MTV News, and is currently a PBS correspondent and host. Stewart is a graduate of Brown University.