BOOK REVIEW: Project 333 by Courtney Carver

I’ve heard of Project 333 a few times over the years, so I was really surprised to find that this book was published March 2020. The concept of Project 333 is very simple. You only wear a combination 33 items of clothing (included shoes and accessories) for 3 months.

Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge that Proves Less Really is So Much More is the second book by Courtney Carver. She’s been featuring Project 333 on her blog for a few years and this book is an extension of the concept (about ten years after she started it). Which explains why I’ve heard of it before. Some Minimalist YouTubers I watch have mentioned the book and author before.

The book is a tad slow to start. It takes until Chapter 11 before she officially introduces the rules of Project 333. The majority of the chapters before were about her journey with finding minimalism and answering a lot of the questions people typical have about the project. The book does assume you sorta understand the high level concept of the project before introducing it. I think that the rules should have been introduced sooner then the FAQ .

The idea, as mentioned at the top, only wearing 33 items of clothing for a period of 3 months. There are some exemptions, such as wedding ring/sentimental jewelry, workout gear, under garments, lounge wear (only to be worn exclusively at home. Leggings you wear out to do groceries or whatever count to your 33 items), and work uniforms.

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She has more that 33 items, as some items are seasonal. That’s why the project is three months, to match the seasons. But she has way less that 132 items, since most of her closet carries over.

After the chapter with the rules and looking at her closet, the book goes a bit more ‘woo woo’ or metaphysical about the larger knock on effects of having a small closet. Lots talk about mediation, the joys of quiet moments, not having to clean as much, downsizing. The standard package of a minimalism book. Although she made no comments about losing weight, and she was pro renting. So 4/6 minimalism tropes isn’t bad.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I don’t know if it will be everyone’s cup of tea, since it’s a rather repetitive. I can also imagine her tone of her writing wouldn’t be everyone’s favorite (you can tell she was a blogger first). There were moments as I was reading I was going back and forth on if I enjoyed the style or not.

If you are looking exclusively for the rules of Project 333, her website (https://bemorewithless.com/project-333-challenge/) is definitely the resource for you.

The book was a light quick read filled with 80’s pop references and generally has feel good motivational vibe.

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I feel for the author, her book was published at a really bad time to start the Project. Since most people have been working from home since publication. In general clothing and fashion haven’t been a main priority for most people. 

Although it will be interesting to see how that effects peoples clothing choices. I know for me, I’ve been wearing around the same 30 items. But that’s because I’ve been living in sweatpants and hoodies, unless I have to go to site or have a cameras-on zoom meeting. Imagine a worst version of what a typical university student would wear during exams, but for the past year and a half. 

When reading the book I was thinking I would do the project and see how I feel about it. Last weekend I was planning on going through my closet and sort what I want to keep, since I was inspired by the book. But I made scones and took at nap instead.

The next recommended start time is September 1st, so I have the summer and maybe slight return to pre-covid times to help me plan my choices. If I do it, I’ll do my best to document and report back on how I feel about it. I can also start in July or any other time. I have some other decluttering projects I want to tackle in the immediate term, but I do want to circle back and try this.

BOOK REVIEW: New Minimalism by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici

New Minimalism is written by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici. It was published in 2018, after their blog and consulting service of the same name grew in popularity.

This books angle in the minimalism landscape is including a sustainable lens for how to declutter.

The majority of the book explains the standard why minimalism is good for you and how to declutter your house. Their method is sorta similar to the KonMarie method by Marie Kondo, bring all similar items from a categories together and sort from there.

The differences are the categories, and for the clothes and home décor sections, the first step should be to pick your 5 favorited items that you definitely want to keep. That will help you visualize your personal style and guide you through your maybes. Which I think is a good idea, particularly when it’s your first round of full house decluttering.

They also mentioned the four archetypes of people that are starting their minimalism journey and which categories will be hardest for them and some tips to help. I think this section could have been fleshed out more. They mentioned their experience with their clients and I would have liked to hear more about that and the timeline of the whole thing.  

The archetypes are as follows:

  • Connected: They wants to keep things from loved ones and are very sentimental about their items.
  • Practical: They want to keep stuff because it might be useful one day.
  • Energetic : They take on a lot of projects and hobbies. Then they don’t want to get rid of any of it, even though it’s unlikely they will complete it.
  • Frugal: Keep items because of the money they spend on it. Or the idea the item may increase in value.
Image Source: New Minimalism

There’s actual mentions of therapy! It was a one off sentence in an anecdote but I appreciate that they mentioned a client being in therapy that helping them figure out why they held on to certain items.

So many books, and even this book in previous chapters, mention a client just “eventually coming to the realization” on something massive. I guess it can happen that way, but I think that those types of stories really gloss over the work a individual has to do to get to that point. They just seem to think minimalism will solved everything in a dudes life.

I wish they had gone deeper on that or clients that didn’t do therapy but came to figured out their hurdles. Like more on though process to get there.

The last portion of the book was about interior design, they include 12 design tips/elements to incorporate into your final design when your done. I won’t go into them. But they made sense: use existing storage before buying more. Your drawers should be only filled to the point you can open and close them with one hand. Find a home for everything.

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I wished that this book had gone a bit deeper in the route of sustainability. They encouraged donating instead of throwing away and using more simple “natural” cleaning products. I don’t remember 2018 that well but I believe that we were more evolved in the eco and decluttering world by then.  They mentioned very briefly donating to more specific originations than just your local Goodwill but don’t explained why (ps: The big places get too overwhelmed with donations and end up trashing most of it).

I did quickly look at their blog, and it seems like nothing has been published since they released the guided journal extension for this book in 2020. A few of the articles touched on items directly mentioned in this book.

Image Source New Minimalism

Overall I just found this book under developed and I would just suggest taking 10 minutes looking through their blog posts and you will probably find all the important parts of this book.

Not to end on a bad note, the book had a lot of pictures of interior spaces, and I really liked them. There was colour, and nice, natural materials. Which is sometimes lacking when you think of minimalist décor. So that was nice to look at when you got to a end of a chapter.

BOOK REVIEW: Voluntary Simplicity (2nd Edition) by Duane Elgin

autumn boots walking on wet wooden logs

As I was reading thing book I was complaining to pretty much anyone that would let me about how boring it was. They would ask why I’m bothering with it? I said I wanted to finish it so I had content for the blog. Now that I’m done, I can confidently say that the approximately 8 hours that I invested reading this book wasn’t worth it!

Voluntary Simplicity is a fantastic combination of being both boring and extremely pretentious. I went into this book with the intention of liking it. It was mentioned in The Story of Stuff, that I read over Christmas. I loved that book so I was hoping that this book would live up to the hype.

It did not…

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The thesis of the book is that everyone should reduce their level of consumerism and live more simply as a way to reduce their environmental impact. Sorta like everyone should be working to reaching ‘One Planet’ levels of consumption/way of living (If you’ve never taken the test, you should, the data is interesting and it explains the concept more).

In the introduction, he explained that living simple isn’t the same thing as poverty. I don’t love the way that he worded that portion, but it’s about how voluntary you are to the simplicity that impacts how much joy and longevity you will get out of it.

After that, there is over 75 pages of testimony’s about how great the voluntary simplicity lifestyle is, and it was so pretentious. It was like when you’re on a first date and you both just ordered appetizers. And that’s when you find out the person sitting across from you is the worst stereotypical of a vegan investment banker. That level of pretentious, self indulgent righteousness.

I can’t even say it gets better after that potion. The whole book is very repetitive. Chapter 5 got a tad better, there was a list of the negative impacts associated with over consumption. I enjoyed reading it the first time I saw it, then I saw a variation two more times. Same with the list of quotes for the major religions/philosophies that would support the idea of simple, sustainable living that I read in three chapters.

This book would have been better as mediocre content for a blog. There are so many  lists and quotes, that would have not been so boring or noticeable if they were spread out over numerous posts.

Here is one example that I screenshot:

The only part of the book I remember/thought about after finishing, is that one of the challenges of achieving a sustainable sociality is a lack of a “collective promise of the future”. Pretty much everyone is working on a different vision of how they want the future to look. Which makes it harder to work on the big societal/intuitional changes that the world (let be honest, first world countries) need to do to ensure we don’t destroy the planet as we know it. Unfortunately the idea it not developed much beyond what I just mentioned.

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The author listed some interesting concepts of what they believe the way of the future should be. Smaller, cohabitation communities close to farm land/food sources. I agree with the high level idea of a sense of community as a pillar of sustainability. However, I believe that their vision for sustainable communities don’t hold up if you think about it too hard. I don’t want to get into much detail about it since they didn’t really either.

The book doesn’t give you much information on how to actually go through the process of simplifying. It’s just a lot of Philosophy 101 mumbo jumbo with the words like environment or sustainability thrown in to make it ~spicy~. Ultimately, I believe that addressing overconsumption is a great way an individual can reduce their environmental impacts. I don’t think this book was the way to deliver that message. Also, that just a small piece of the puzzle of how we can try to solve the climate crisis.

PS. I read some reviews and they mention that the first edition is much better and the rewrites ruined the book. I will take their word for it, and I will not be reading the first edition to compare. 

BOOK REVIEW: Less by Rachel Aust

Rachel Aust is a lifestyle influencer. I’ve been following her YouTube channel for a few years and I knew she had a book that came out in 2018 but didn’t read it until now.

The book is advertised as a visual guide, but it didn’t have as many pictures as I was expecting. There’s a fair amount at the beginning and faded throughout. 

Although there wasn’t as many pictures as I expected, there were a lot of flow charts which I found nice. You can read paragraphs about a questions you should ask yourself when decluttering but a flow chart is more effective and easier to wrap your head around.   

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The book is about 144 pages, so it is an extremely short read. Libby said that I finished reading it in about an hour.  As it’s so short, it didn’t go into as much detail about one would expect for a book about decluttering. I found she did focus on the closet declutter, and finding your personal style. Rachel does have a background in fashion photography so this isn’t that big of a surprise. It would have been nice if other parts of the book where as or more detailed. In particular her chapter about living with a non-minimalist. Five bullet points doesn’t feel like enough for something that I know a lot of people that consider themselves minimalists have an issue with.  

I think if you watched her Minimalism playlist on YouTube, you would get pretty much all of the contents of this book. Every topic covered in this book, with the exception of the cleaning schedule, has a video about it that’s under 8 minutes. In her book trailer, she says the book it an expansion of the information in the videos. I would disagree and say the videos, plus the ones she’s created since the book publication are more detailed that this book. 

Overall it’s a very relaxed quick read. I think it was designed to be a pretty coffee table than a life changing guide. The information isn’t wrong, but it would have been nice to have a little more detail. I cannot recommend purchasing this book, but I do enjoy watching Rachel’s YouTube videos.  

BOOK REVIEW: Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

I just found this book as a recommended title on Libby so I thought I would give it a shot and I’m glad I did. Year of No Clutter is a memoir by Eve Schaub of the year (I believe its 2016 or 2017) of her and her family decluttering their house, specifically the ‘Hell Room’ a room that seemed to have become the families dumping ground.   

I tried finding some info about Eve after finishing the book and it seems like she’s primarily a blogger. This is her second book, with the first one being Year of No Sugar which documents her family’s year of no additional processed sugar.  

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In the first chapter I was debating returning the book to the library. It’s primarily the story of Eve and the Hell Room, which sounded super super disgusting. There are boxes with cat pee stains, dead bugs and one dead mouse. When she saw the dead mouse she thought it was so gross that she wrote a post about it for her blog and decided the she needed to keep the mouse as a memento of the blog.  

Everyone that I mentioned this to agreed its nasty and asked why I was reading it. Which was fair, I was debating calling it quits because I didn’t want to read the memoir of someone who thought it was cool to keep little biohazards. But I pushed through, because I found her writing quite engaging.  

Once I got past the mouse, the book improved a lot. The book documents her year, and it’s not in a month by month play thought like The Year of Less (Link to Review). But a series of anecdotes of when her (and her kids) would work to tackle all the items in the room.  This is after she comes to the realization that she had hoarding tendencies and if left unchecked could become a full hoarding situation.  

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Things I like about the book: the decluttering process wasn’t easy. I will compare this book to The Year of Less again, since they are both decluttering memoirs. Cait was able to get rid of like 50% of her items in the first month. That isn’t something that most people can do, so Eve talking about her struggles with detaching memories from her items was interesting to read and I think better reflects most people’s struggle as they start the process. Decluttering is a muscle and needs to be built up before its really good for anything.  

I also enjoyed that Eve actually mentioned the part after making the pile for the donation bin. She talked about selling clothes to consignment, online and donating it to different organizations which I feel like so many minimalism/decluttering books skip or briefly mention. She also talks about the time requirements to go to all these places while trying to run a household.   

The last thing I will mention is that the family is filled with crafters/creatives which I feel aren’t mentioned enough in the decluttering/minimalism space. There’s a chapter where she talks about going on a weaving retreat and she talks about knitting which are things I really relate too and enjoyed they got a mention. 

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The main thing I didn’t like, how long she kept that dead mouse. But also how uninvolved her husband was in the process. Her and her kids would spend so much time looking at all this stuff (which a bunch of it was his, although he wouldn’t own up to it) and he would just complain there was piles waiting for to go to Value Village but didn’t seem to take any active role in maybe getting the stuff out of the house if it bother him so much. Her method of finally getting him to look through he’s shit was to just pile it in inconvenient places till he broke down and looked at it. I am not married but I feel like that isn’t the best way to do it. But that chapter was a strong reminder that this book is a memoir and not a guide.  

Overall I enjoyed the book after getting past the first couple chapters. The book isn’t a guide but she does share some of the things that she figured out. I think a lot of her epiphanies are things that were mentioned in Decluttering at the Speed of Life if you are looking for the step by step guide version of a decluttering process. 

BOOK REVIEW: What Your Clutter Is Trying to Tell You by Kerri L. Richardson

This is a short review for a short book.

It book doesn’t focus on physical side of decluttering but the mental side. Something that I wasn’t expecting going in.

In the introduction the author was discussing one of her clients having a difficult time dealing with the miscellaneous paperwork that lived on his desk (same, my dude). As the two discussed, they determined that the lack of creativity in his day job made him emotionally unwilling to deal with the paperwork. So once he noticed that, he started to chase after more creative work at his job…. and then boom! The paperwork wasn’t an issue anymore.

I didn’t find that example relatable (apart for the paper mess), I found it a little too “woo woo” or “granola” for my analytical brain to wrap its head around.

The rest of the book is more about sorting out what are the blocks in your life that are preventing you from decluttering. She also talks about the three common types of blocks and I will give you a high-level breakdown about ’em since it was the only part I found interesting.

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  1. Unrealistic expectations: maybe it’s the hobby you think you’ll do on when you get time. Or the dress you keep for when you lose that last 5 pounds (will circle back to her opinion on weight further down). But in general, its what you want from the item and what your getting isn’t the same.

Actually that’s a lie, I just reviewed the chapter. It’s about your expectations about how productive you will be when it comes to decluttering.  She’s a proponent of the Pomodoro technique (20 mins productive, 5 min break. Rinse and repeat). You wont lose as much momentum since you wont get overwhelmed as your breaking stuff down into smaller tasks.

I think my misremembering of this idea is also valid and I’m keeping it in my summary. In general, it’s evaluating the things and people around you and determining if it lines up with your current self and the self you are working towards.

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2. Boundaries: Don’t have to declutter it if it never comes into your space in the first place. It’s also about not over extending yourself and not taking more responsibilities to be a people pleaser. She challenges the reader to disappoint one person per a day (about something small) for a week to improves ones ability to say “no” to things that do not bring joy.

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3. Old Beliefs: times are changing, so should our beliefs and the way that we treat people and things in our lives. It’s important to question why you are keeping items in your life. If you’ve moved past a phase and its time to make sure your space reflects.


After that is more woo woo shit about how your purposely keeping clutter, because your afraid to “graduate, spiritually, to the next soul level” that comes with having a cleaner space???

She also says at least 3 things that are pretty much fat shaming. Like your keeping yourself fat because your self conscious and using your weight to hide that. In the section about common places of clutter, the body is one. You know, since fat is bad and definitely something that every person can control 100% of the time… 

An excerpt from the book… Context: this conversation between Kerri and her client who said she would start online dating after her lost a certain amount of weight

I hope you can tell that I was less than impressed by her attitude in that respect. As well, she assuming that the reader would be a woman, by always referring to our inner critic by she/her pronouns. Which was more odd and annoying given the fact that she mentioned clients of all genders. So she does know that decluttering isn’t a gendered issue. Yet still wrote with that assumption.

To conclude, I cannot recommend this book. Even if you like books that more conceptual or emotion based, this book had me constantly rolling my eyes or being mildly disgusted by the authors views.

So please skip it, even if its short. Just read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Both will ask you to say “thank you” to the items your let go. But one won’t call you fat in the process.

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