Book Review: Things Organized Neatly

posted in: Book Reviews 0

Are you a fan or student of organization, photography, design, art, and aesthetics?

Do you get a thrill from looking at carefully arranged and meticulously organized items?

Perhaps you’re keen on looking at, or thinking about the belongings in your home and office in a completely different light.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, well, have I got the book for you!

In this blog post, I review the book Things Organized Neatly (Universe Publishing, 2016) by Austin Radcliffe, founder of the eponymous blog, Things Organized Neatly.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some links in this post may be Amazon.com affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission from Amazon.com, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using one of those links.

The Beauty of Order

Every so often, I do a book or product review here on the blog that’s somehow related to organization, time management, and productivity.

Not only is it a fun exercise for me, but it’s a great way for me to share with you a different way of looking at organization.

Organization is not always about putting things in order, but in studying, reflecting, and appreciating items organized in a certain method or fashion.

Think for a moment about a well-organized space or room. There’s something wholly satisfying in studying and admiring such a carefully crafted space, isn’t there?

I truly believe there is beauty is order. There’s beauty in the arrangement of items, and beauty in the sheer practicality of such items.

Don’t quite believe me? Let’s take a well-organized desk, for example. Pens and pencils are stored neatly in containers on top of the desk, an inbox/outbox for postal mail and files sits squarely on top of the desk, and there is clearly enough room for someone to use a computer, spread out their notebook and papers, and work.

Everything is on the desk is organized as it should be. Now, if that’s not a work of art, I don’t know what is!

As you can see, I’m a firm believer in using different methods to get you thinking about order and organization in new ways. That being said, let’s move on to the book now, shall we?

Things Organized Neatly

Things Organized Neatly was released earlier this year and is a product of the eponymous Tumblr blog curated by Austin Radcliffe*.

Inside, you’ll find carefully crafted collections of food, toys, sports equipment, cutlery, and more by a host of talented artists, designers, photographers, and others.

Things Organized Neatly is a little over 100 pages long (give or take a few pages), so you might be inclined to quickly flip through the book and dismiss the images as being, well, well-organized. End of story.

But, let me tell you this: if you “read” the book this way, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice.

The real delight in the book comes from taking the time to carefully admire, study, and think about each image.

In some ways, looking at each photo is not unlike looking at a Where’s Waldo? book, where you are continually scanning and looking for something.

In Where’s Waldo? books, it’s painfully obvious you’re looking for Waldo wearing his striped shirt, black glasses, and hat.

Yet in Things Organized Neatly, what are you looking for?

Well, quite frankly, you are looking to appreciate and understand the order sitting in front of you on the page.

A Visual Playground

Sure, at first glance, there’s a delicious collection of candies organized neatly, several colorful food coolers constructed into the shape of an igloo, or eerie-looking playing cards arranged in an artful fashion.

But as you look more carefully at each photo, you realize there’s a whole lot more going on. Yes, things are organized, but you have to figure out how items are organized.

What is it that makes an image of typewriters so appealing? A collection of sewing notions so nifty? Or a picture of a watermelon slice so humorous? By thoughtfully viewing the images, you truly get to better understand the shape, size, color, and function of items.

And, thanks to the different collections of images provided by each artist within the book, you also get a feel for their personality and approach towards order.

The best way to describe the book is as a visual playground. Your eyes and mind climb, crawl, twist, swing, run, and slide among the images, and even double back on themselves at times! If you take the time, you can spend many hours studying, thinking about, and admiring these images. Honestly, I could spend days poring over this book and finding new things to appreciate and look at.

Order as Art

So, why is this book so gosh darn fun? I’ve come to a few key realizations:

It feels good seeing things in order.

When things seem chaotic and disorganized in the world, it’s nice to know you can rest your eyes upon calm and orderly images. All you have to do is open up the book, and you’re in organization heaven. Ahh.

It’s fun to exercise your mind.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s great fun to stretch your mental muscles with images. You are not reading the book; you are actually studying the order contained inside of it in great detail. You really get to look at everyday materials in an entirely new light.

The book is an example of order itself.

Someone had to collect, acquire, or design items for the book. Someone had to think about organizing items together. Someone had to carefully arrange items for each image. Someone had to curate the images for the book. And finally, someone has to enjoy the book (that’s you!).

I’d recommend Things Organized Neatly as a unique coffee table book for your home, or an engaging conversation piece in an office or waiting room. It would also be a thoughtful gift for someone who appreciates organization, or for someone who studies or enjoys art, design, and creativity.

Things Organized Neatly solidly delivers on what it says it will deliver: things organized neatly. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by these spectacular images.

And by looking at well-organized images, who knows, you might just be inspired to tidy up the kitchen cabinet, straighten out your closet, or organize your thoughts. At the very least, it will encourage you to look the items in your immediate environment in a completely different way.

Buy Things Organized Neatly by Austin Radcliffe (Universe Publishing, 2016) on Amazon.com

*If you’ve never visited the Things Organized Neatly blog before, I suggest you do so. It’s a lot of fun scrolling up and down on the blog and searching the archives for inspiring and breathtaking images of neatly organized items. Plus, if you like to organize items and take photos of them, and if you’re so inclined, you can submit your own photos to the blog.

*For those not in the know, Where’s Waldo? is a series of illustrated children’s books. Waldo is cleverly hidden throughout various scenes and scenarios in the books, and it is up to you to carefully search the illustrations and find Waldo.

How about you? Have you heard about or seen the book, Things Organized Neatly? Are you thinking about buying it or borrowing it from the library to see it for yourself? Are there any other books about collections or things organized neatly that you’d like to recommend? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some links in this post may be Amazon.com affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission from Amazon.com, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using one of those links.


Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 3 Smart Steps to Organizing Your Home, by clicking here.
Latest posts from