I found out about this book while scrolling through Shira Gill’s website when I was writing the review for Minimalista (review here) and in the sea of basic white lady testimonials, I saw someone new; Christine Platt, the author of The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less.
The audiobook was available at the library, so here we are. The book is narrated by the author and overall I think she has a good voice for it. My biggest gripe of the audiobook is you can really tell that Platt is a children’s book author, since some of her narration was a little overdone. Great if you’re reading an adventure book for a child, but a bit odd as an adult trying to learn about owning the right amount of clothes.
At the end of each chapter, there was a portion that was a story of one of Platt’s friends. It’s written in the third-person, and was narrated by that person for the audio. So you can kind of tell a few moments when listening to the book when the person was struggling with pronouncing their own name. So that’s something that you will miss out on if you read the book instead of listening. This doesn’t really fit into this review, but it was fun to notice.
Now on to the actual contents of the book…
The book is spilt up into three main parts if you look at the Table of Contents, although I think it’s more like four, since the Introduction is pretty long.
The introduction covers Christine’s story of how she found minimalism. I think she’s so interesting. She has a Masters in African studies, and was a corporate lawyer all while raising her daughter. Then, she was the environmental policy advisor for Obama and now is a children’s book author. This is in addition to being the Afrominmalist online. She seems cool as heck.
This section contextualizes why she wanted to find minimalism, as well as how the general aesthetic of minimalism never works for her and working through how owning colorful things can still make you a minimalist.
It was nice to hear her talk about trying to declutter on weekends while balancing her job. She didn’t go that deep on that point, but I still appreciate a more realistic declutter process.
After that is Part One, which focuses on the mental shift you should do before you start decluttering your crap. This included some overviews of the psychology behind why people buy, and why they might find it hard to let go. It’s more detailed than most books I have read about this area of the pre-minimalism process, which is a definitive Plus. Also she provides scientific studies, which is dope, we don’t stand for solely anecdotal evidence on this blog.
Part Two is about the process of decluttering and finding the right amount of stuff to own. There’s some good info in this section, but my eyes (ears I guess since I was listening) glazed over some of the information. But that’s more of a criticism of me, a person that only reads books about minimalism.
A spot where the process differs from other books, was exploring how your upbringing and cultural expectations can impact this process. As well as forgiving yourself and the people that raised you for how that could have negatively impacted you in the long run.
Part Three is about the practice of living the life and living your authentic life after going through the initial declutter. A similar comment as Part Two, some info I had heard before but it’s well delivered.
As mentioned a few times at this point. I liked the book and I think the information is solid. The process allows for a lot of grace and is pretty upfront that it’s not an instant process.
In each chapter, where was also a portion that’s “for the culture” which is specifically for people of the African diaspora. I found this area interesting and informative as a white lady that has a very different lived experience than Platt.
I think there’s something in this book for anyone that’s interested in living with less. But if you are BIPOC, there’s information in here that you will not get in the current best sellers of the genre. One review that was shared on Platt’s Instagram puts its really well “Highly recommend to anyone whose cultural identity never quite felt seen in Western minimalism.”
This book has been out about a year and I wished I had heard about it sooner. It’s a much better reading experience than a lot of books that I’ve rotted my brain reading for this blog. I think that she brings a unique point of view, not only as a black women in a space that filled with a crap ton of white people, but also having had a corporate job, been a single mother and been divorced. All of these things are not that represented in this minimalism scene, although the space would be must more interesting if it was.
I think I will place this book on the “Def Relatable” tier of the tier list. It’s good, but this book is not “Popular for a Reason”, partially since it’s not as popular as it could/should be. But also some of the information, particularly in Part Two is a bit basic. If you’ve read other decluttering/minimalism books before you’ve probably heard the big takeaways before.
To wrap up, I found another book I enjoyed. This is three in a row, which is blowing my mind, but in a good way. I can guarantee that the streak is breaking at this point, since the book I’m currently working through is a bit of a dud.
If you are curious about the other books I’ve reviewed, you can check my Tier list of books HERE.