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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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, and books they will likely never reread? Junk details Stewart’s three-year investigation into America’s stuff. Stewart rides along with junk removal teams like Trash Daddy, Annie Haul, and Junk Vets. She goes backstage at 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. Readers will also learn that there are creative solutions to America’s crushing consumer culture. The author visits with Deron Beal, founder of FreeCyle, 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. Junk is a delightful journey through 250-mile-long yard sales, resale shops, 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 20-year career includes anchoring and reporting for NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News. Stewart is the author of First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School, and is currently the host of the Travel Channel program, Follow My Past. She lives in New York City.