JUNK: Digging Through America’s Love Affair With Stuff


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Kirkus Reviews:

After spending months painstakingly sifting through knickknack boxes in her parents’ basement after the sale of the family home, journalist and TV host Stewart (First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School, 2013) contemplated the nature of obsession, nostalgia, and our compulsive reliance on personal “stuff.” Her entertaining three-year exploration spans U.S. Route 411 from central Alabama to Tennessee, a stretch of Southern highway that becomes a 250-mile-long yard sale teeming with hives of eccentrics and their roadside tchotchke stands during a four-day autumnal “junk-a-palooza.” There, and throughout the many homes and storage units she examined, Stewart understood that “the key element of true junk is worthlessness.” However, behind the dusty boxes and overstuffed bins are real people; some harbor serious psychological impairments, while others seem trapped in a collection cycle, surrounding and guarding themselves with a disposable, ever expanding bloom of ephemera. MORE


Americans are obsessed with stuff. Obtaining it, using it, and hanging on to it. So much that storing it all brings in nearly $25 billion in revenue every year to storage companies (a recession-proof business). We’re fascinated by television shows such as Pawn Stars, Hoarders, and Storage Wars—in fact, Stewart lists 27 different current shows dedicated to our fixation on junk. When faced with clearing out the family home, Stewart starting wondering about our new national pastime and what keeps people so wedded to objects. For fun, she tags along on jobs with various junk-removal companies, visits an artist who has built a tower of junk, and interviews the founder of Freecycle; she gets more serious when discussing hoarding disorders. A particularly entertaining chapter classifies the many types of junk, from junk mail to junk food to “junk in the trunk.” While there aren’t any earth-shattering conclusions here (it’s hard to give up sentimental items; someday that tchotchke might be worth something!), this is an engaging narrative that will certainly appeal to readers who love those aforementioned cable shows.


“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, co-host 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 Your 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


Book Tours

April 2, 2016

The Book Cellar, Chicago IL

April 7, 2106

Barnes and Noble Upper West Side, NYC

April 14, 2016

The Golden Notebook Bookstore, Woodstock NY

April 18, 2016

Powells on Hawthorne, Portland OR

April 19, 2016

Vroman’s, Pasadena CA

April 30th, 2016

Barnes & Noble, Tucson AZ

May 13, 2016

Connecticut Forum. Moderating a panel with Elizabeth Gilbert and Bill T. Jones, HARTFORD CT

June 1, 2016

Malaprops, Asheville NC

June 10, 2016

Porters on the Square, Boston MA


April 1, 2016

“CBS This Morning” (National, CBS-TV), author interview


March 15, 2016

Sirius XM Stars Channel “The Perri Peltz Show” @Noon ET, author interview

April 2, 2016

“NPR “Weekend Edition Saturday,” pretaped author interview

April 7, 2016

WNYC-FM “The Leonard Lopate Show” @Noon ET, author interview

April 20, 016

Sirius XM Radio “The Hoda Show” @ 2:30pm ET, author interview

FIRST CLASS: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s

First Black Public High School


First Class tells the extraordinary history of the first black public high school in the United States, from its humble beginnings in a church basement during Reconstruction, to its pinnacle as an academic powerhouse rivaling the elite white public and private institutions in spite of and oddly due to segregation, to its rapid descent to an overlooked chaotic urban school with some of the worst …




NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff joins Alison Stewart from Des Moines, Iowa, to discuss the 2016 Iowa caucuses.



The Bryant Park Project, as co-hosted by Alison Stewart and Luke Burbank in more than two dozen pilots, mixes big doses of levity with a news sensibility favoring alternate takes on the day’s top stories.