Dana K. White is a staple is in the decluttering/minimalist space. I see her second book Decluttering at the Speed of Life referenced pretty regularly on r/declutter as the book to read if you are interested in owning less stuff.
I read a portion of Decluttering at the Speed of Life a few years ago, but didn’t have the time to finish it before it was automatically returned to the library on Libby. From what I remember, I enjoyed it and planned to revisit it for the blog.
This book is a pretty easy read. Each of the 100 strategies are only couple of pages and Dana K. White doesn’t expect you to incorporate all of them.
That being said, it did take a bit longer than expected to finish. Almost every time I picked it up, I would read a couple pages and I would get an urge to clean something. It feels weird to read about how you should do your dishes every day when your sink is full of the pots from yesterday’s dinner.
So in a way, the book was pretty effective at its purpose for promoting an organized and clean home. Even if it’s not in the way she intended.
The book discusses a concept of the three levels of cleaning, most of the strategies in the book fall into one of three different levels. They are the following:
It’s hard to clean when you have too much crap that doesn’t have a home. She gives a very brief overview on how to declutter a space. And recommends reading her other book for more details. I think she gave the right amount of info for someone who hasn’t read her other works, but not bog down the pacing of this book.
2) Daily maintenance
This is the bulk of the strategies. White is a big believer small cleans every day. I understand why dishes every day or sweeping or laundry makes the longer term flow of the household nicer. In practice that isn’t something I want to do for myself.
3) Deep cleaning
This is like the tips for how to clean your baseboards. Or the big seasonal cleans that really elevates a space from tidy to clean.
Again each chapter/strategy is really short. The book isn’t heavy with many anecdotes or extra filler, which I appreciate. I enjoyed White’s voice throughout, she seems like a really funny person.
Overall, I think the book is a quick read and good for people that need that kick in the butt to clean their space. Or are overwhelmed on how to do it.
I did notice that the things I resonated with most in this book (the levels of clean, daily dishes, laundry days) have their own blog posts of her website. If you are curious about this book I would start there, since she has years of content at your disposal.
If you are interested in reading any reviews of decluttering or minimalism, book you can read my rankings of Minimalism and Decluttering books here.
Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book off of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you pay attention to any sustainable fashion Instagram or social media, you’ve probably heard of Consumed, the first book by Aja Barber.
The book is a pretty recent release (Oct 2021). I think I’m the first person to read the copy from the library since it was in spotless condition. Which doesn’t effect my review, I’m just happy it happened.
Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism is the full title of the book and the book’s thesis statement. Aja Barber covers a lot of ground in a relatively short book and I think she does really well.
The book is spilt into two parts. I’ll just use the description on Aja’s website since it’s more concise than anything I could write:
Part one:I expose you to the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and the uncomfortable history of the textile industry; one which brokered slavery, racism and today’s wealth inequality.
Part two:In the second ‘unlearning’ half of the book, I will help you to understand the uncomfortable truth behind why you consume the way you do.
Aja’s writing style is really inviting and it feels like a friend talking about something they’re super passion about. Like instead of a researcher/journalism trying to lecture you. There were so many moments I wanted to Snapchat or post what I was reading of my Instagram. I was really connecting with what was written and wanted to share it with people!
As mentioned earlier, the book covers a lot of ground and deals with many difficult topics. Such as the condition of garment factories, destruction of the environment, racism in the fashion industry and more.
I think she covers all the topics really well and sensitively. Although, one criticism I have: there were spots I wish she went a bit deeper. I’ve read some of the books referenced and I think it would have strengthen her points if she included more info from those books here.
One example being the Bangladesh factory fires. I think it would have benefited with more details for people that didn’t know that happened or forgot about it. Like a couple more sentences just explaining the impacts. Like how the doors were chained. Or that a lot of the survivors or families didn’t get any compensation from the fund raising or government. Would have helped really shine a light on how shit these manufacturing conditions can be.
I believe Aja was trying not to be too much of a downer. I also think she assumes the reader may know more about some of these topics before picking up the book. So I understand why some topics were kept on the shorter side.
The second half of the book is about unlearning and the actionable steps a consumer can take. The main one she mentioned is writing to law makers. And there’s an example letter! Additionally, introductions is open letter Aja wrote to fast fashion companies. That one isn’t one you can copy since it was specific to her. But between the two of them, you got a good starting point to help you write your own letter.
I love example letters!
This book is one of the few new releases that mention Covid and didn’t annoy me the heck out of me. Fast fashion companies have fucked over so many garment workers over the past few years. It really drives home about what she’s been writing that took place before 2020. Fast fashion will take any opportunity, including a pandemic to be…
If/when this book gets a second edition it would be interesting to see what the updates will be. So far, they are pretty depressing… I believe there are some lost wage class actions that have been filed since publication.
Update since writing the draft review: there’s been a few wins. See below:
Apart for the normal, write to the government, and stop buying crap from Shein, she does include other tips. I think that her approach is very nuanced. Aja Barber seems aware that for the regular person, fully quitting fast fashion is a marathon, not a race. Additionally, the tips aren’t the same as once I’ve read in other books or online.
Overall, I loved the book and I’ve been recommending it to all my friends! I recommend it to you too. It was really eye opening without being too overwhelming.
If you are interested in review of other books about fast fashion, I have one for Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas. You can also find all my book reviews here.
Declutter Like a Mother is the most recent book by stay-at-home mom, turned blogger, turned entrepreneur, Allie Casazza. She found many benefits in decluttering/minimizing. This book explores the steps she’s given her consulting clients to go through their belongings.
Before I get too deep into the review, I got this book off NetGalley. So I didn’t pay for this book (thanks). But most importantly, I’m not the intended demographic for this book: I’m not a mother. Casazza does mention early on that this book can be read by anyone. But I got called Mama enough times, that I’m not convinced that this is true.
My largest gripe about this book and something that makes it feel less evergreen, despite it being a new release (Sept 2021) is the number of references to her programs and website. Very early in the book you discover that this book is basically a promotion tool for her online program for decluttering your home (priced at $397 USD at the time of writing). The chapter on tackling children’s bedrooms seems sparse, and Casazza happens to offers a program on her website specifically for decluttering children rooms ($349 USD).
You can definitely read the book and follow the steps and likely get a declutter. But the majority of the steps are really light on details. Which is a mixed bag. I dislike books that are too repetitive when it comes to the declutter process (The Minimalist Home was slightly guilty of this). But this swung the other direction.
For example, the Chapter about clothing. Which is big enough of a topic that there are many books just tackling that, was really really vague. She mentioned keeping what fits and you enjoy having. Then goes on a multi-paragraph discussion of how her favorite underwear are the high-rise Spanx, and why it’s her favorite. I didn’t find that helpful to my own closet pair down process.
But that is jumping ahead…
The closet isn’t the first area she recommends you declutter. Which is very refreshing for this style of book. That fresh feeling was short lived though. Because the title of the chapter starting the declutter method dang near killed me:
Some people may find that chapter title funny. Maybe people will appreciate random Fergie reference from a song that came out in 2003, that was used in another chapter title. But I just find the writing style very dated. I would have completed believed you if you had told me this book came out in, like, 2014-2017 during the high of the Chevron, mint green, maxi dress era of life.
The book is a very easy read.
Despite me thinking the writing style was dated, it was straightforward, and easy to follow. I wish the book was more detailed, and didn’t reference her website as much. After the chapters about the declutter, she did have a FAQ and testimonial section that was an interesting addition. I would have liked it expanded as well. She mentions having clients, I would loved to know more about of their common road blocks and how to get past them. But I guess that’s something only people in the paid course get to know.
But what did she suggest to do to declutter like a mother?
In general, you are asked to visualize the intention you have for the space and keep items that serve that purpose. She was really clear at multiple times in the book, that the program isn’t about minimalism, but “it’s about having less of what doesn’t matter in order to make room for what does”
I actually did a bunch of research to confirm that sentence wasn’t plagiarized from one of the minimalism girlies. I was that convinced that I had read that before somewhere else. But that’s a me problem, not the books.
She calls her lifestyle “simplicitism”, which feels impossible to pronounce and harder to explain. But it’s minimalism: the movement, not the aesthetic or art style. There was a whole chapter about how to keep going and not let the idea of minimalism (dudes that only own three shirts and can fit everything they own in a backpack) distract you from how you want your space to be used.
Sidebar: I’m kinda annoyed that the aesthetic of a minimalist lifestyle is so ingrained in the movement. Like it feels like anyone that doesn’t only wear black has to over explain or dissociate with the philosophy. Which feels silly in a time where we really should be stopping our overconsumption as society. For a bunch of reasons that I don’t need to get into right now. Like, I guess I’m guilty of that too. This whole blog is about how I’m not a minimalism, but enjoy reading aboutit.I’ve read enough books trying to dispel the myths of minimalism to see this is a trope of the genre. I think this book was the one that continued about it the longest.
I have a few other notes that I want to include here. As I didn’t know where else to put it:
There is talk of god and religion. It’s only in the introduction and afterword if that’s something you would want to skip over.
Really encourages buying containers or tray for each room. This feels like something you should wait until your declutter more spaces before doing. Mostly to confirm you don’t already have something that would do the job.
She wants you to get rid of all your glasses and mugs and only use mason jars.
“Life is too short to drink out of a fugly mug” – Page 93.
I haven’t readGirl Wash Your Face or other books by Rachel Hollis. So I might be out of line, but I find there are a fair amount of similarities. Both talk about poop in there books, both are small business owner turn book/internet empire, and both quote Maya Angelou. Allie, unlike Racheal, attributes the quote. So that’s a plus to this book for sure!
I briefly checked out the Goodreads reviews after writing my first draft of this post. Despite Allie really not wanting this book to be about minimalism, most positive reviews mentioned that’s what they got from it.
Would I recommend this book?
I’m learning more towards No than Yes. I do think that Allie does fill a niche in the ‘owning less crap’ space, even if it’s not really for me. But I don’t think the book provides enough info to its reader. Additionally, I don’t think its effective enough at it’s main goal: funneling people into joining her course. Like people are already paid for a product and it didn’t provide that much value. How can we be sure the next product won’t be the same…
This book is going into the “Marge Simpson going Mmmm” level of my tier list of book reviews (Link here to the whole list). You can also go there for more reviews of book I’ve read for the blog. The book isn’t terrible, and I’m pretty sure I’ll remember it. At the same time, it’s not really a value add.
That’s pretty much all I had for this book. Allie does have podcast. I’ve listened to one episode, and I have some thoughts. I will listen to a few more, and probably make a separate post about that in the future.
So I was minding my own business, scrolling Pinterest and an old blog post of Casazza’s popped up on my feed. A Beginner’s Guide to a Minimalist Home and the introduction of this book are the same. The first seven paragraphs about walking around your home are basically verbatim. This explains why I thought the book had such intense mint green chevron vibes, they literally do.
Parts of the blog post were edited, but the majority was the same. I did a really quick scan of some of her other posts and didn’t see any moments this obvious of self-plagiarism, but many of the blog titles got reused.
This cements my feeling that this book was a lazy project to push her courses. I don’t think that she needs to write 100% new content for the book, but also think it’s weird to keep so much of it the same.
I personally don’t like a lot stuff I wrote 5 years ago and would likely rework it a lot if it was going to a publisher. I guess I assumed others would have a similar feeling.
If you have any thoughts about that, I would love to know.
The Minimalists are not new to having me review their work. I have a review of their second Netflix Documentary (Review HERE). Additionally, I’ve also mentioned a few times in other posts that I do not enjoy their work. I gave their podcast the good college try back in 2017/2018. I believe that they haven’t been able to produce a new idea since they first started their blog ten years ago.
Now that I disclosed my bias, I want to make clear that I wanted to like this book, or for it to surprise me. I don’t like the idea of torturing myself for 10 hours for this blog (at least not until I get monetized… someone pls sponsor me). I went into the audiobook listening experience with good intentions, despite me not liking the authors.
Unfortunately, this book did not surprise me… And the book mildly annoyed me for about 8 hours.
I borrowed the book on Libby and once I started, I procrastinated continuing listening to it. When it automatically returned, I still had about two hours of run time left and I didn’t care.
In fact, I actually ended up listening to the podcast about the Elizabeth Holmes trial in the last hour I had the book for because it was way more interesting.
The book was published in July 2021. If you are reading this in the future and don’t remember, that was still in the height of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The book isn’t very shaped by the pandemic, with the exception of the Preface. Below is a passage I wrote on my phone when I heard it in my audiobook:
“Inmany ways [this book is] a pandemic preparation manual. If only we could have gotten this book into the hands of the struggling people before the spread of the virus. We would have prevented a great deal of heartache. Because intentional living is the best form of preparation.”
That passage rubbed me the wrong way, for a lot of reasons. This passage is mostly referencing preppers and people that panic bought toilet paper at the start of the pandemic. As well, as people becoming aware of how uncomfortable their physical spaces made them, since they had to be home all the time. Both of those are real, and kinda privileged things that happened. But no amount of people living a minimalist life would have prevented COVID and the loss of life for millions of people around the world. In fact, the most effective preparation would have been to strengthen our healthcare systems, and paying our healthcare/essential workers an equitable wage and get the vaccine. Things that minimalism can’t fucking fix…
Anyways, enough of me being frustrated by the pandemic, and back to the book.
In the Preface Joshua, the blonde Minimalists in the photos and main narrator of the book, mentions that if you know the Minimalist, Chapter 1 will be repetitive. So they are becoming somewhat self-aware.
The last comment I had about the Preface was the stat that 95% of discarded clothing can be reused or recycled. But for some reason, they didn’t include that very little of the textile waste stream is sold secondhand, reused or recycled and that annoyed me (About 80% goes to landfill btw).
As mentioned before, and in other posts. The Minimalists are really dated and haven’t evolved in the past ten years. This couldn’t have been more obvious than when Joshua was discussing marketing and Billboards with ads for skinny jeans? Hello? 2011 called and they want their fashion trends back. Also, Billboards? Honey, if that isn’t an undisclosed sponsorship on Instagram or Tiktok, is it really an clothing ad?
I didn’t know until I was doing research for this post, but it’s part memoir. I believe they already have memoirs, so I don’t understand why this book had to be one too.
The first part of the book is detailing the Minimalists’ journey, that we’ve all heard before. As well, it goes deep on how terrible people Joshua and Ryan were before they found minimalism. Like both cheated, Ryan drove under the influence a bunch of time (luckily not killing anyone). I think they are trying to open up about these negative traits they used to have as a way to show that you need to be truly honest and open, since lying just leads down bad roads.
I don’t think it landed the way they planned. There’s just such a privilege that comes with being able to talk about your drug use, and possible history of being a drug dealer (as I understood it, I totally could be wrong, don’t quote me, this isn’t libel) in a book without any real consequences.
This feels extremely mean to write, but Joshua needs to go into therapy to talk to a professional about his mom. He spend a lot of time about his mom with a lot of anecdotes. Which some people might find interesting. But the volume of it… it’s so boring…. I probably could have finished the book on time if like two mom anecdotes were cut from the book. (like the hot dog joke for sure, that didn’t bring anything to the table. I won’t retell it but it’s not good). We, as your audience, will never care about your mom the way you do.
Joshua if you have the misfortune of reading this post: It seems like you still have a lot of complicated feelings you need to work through. Please talk to a professional about it!
Anyways… I actually probably should mention the format of the book. Each chapter is about a relationship (with your stuff, with yourself, others, money etc). I forgot that was the plan until Ryan would show up in my ear telling me some minimalist tips, and some exercises that reflect what was learnt in the chapter.
So Joshua would just chatter about his relationship with himself and I was supposed to learn something from that? I did try for the first couple chapters and looking back on my notes for this post. I have the following:
Relationship 1 (Stuff), Question 4 – What is the real cost (beyond money) holding on to your items is costing you?
Partner complaining I have too many plants
Time packing and unpacking when I move.
Relationship 1 (Stuff), Question 6 – What did you learn about your relationship with material stuff this chapter?
Nothing. Y’all ain’t original lol
Idk… I probably should probably downsize in preparation for my next move, again.
Straight up, forgot the chapter minus the skinny jean comment.
If you couldn’t tell, I hated this book! Like, way more then I wanted to or expected to. Typically Minimalists content makes my eyes roll a bit but I can get over it. But after listening to ¾ of this book I should probably book an optometrist appointment to make sure my eyes didn’t pull a muscle or something from how hard they were working. Despite me not using them to read the book.
I can’t recommend this book. It was far too long, covers no ground and made me lose what little respect I did have for The Minimalists.
Not to be fully negative: Below is a tweet-able sentence that I like in regard letting go of physical as well as emotional things.
“A willingness to let go, is one of life’s most mature virtues”.
I thought that was nice, and there were a couple small lines, here and there, of a similar nature that were alright. But not enough to read the book. You can find listicles online of the best quotes if you are interested.
Anyways… If you are curious about books that I actually finished, you can read my rankings of Minimalism and Decluttering books here.
I threw this Drew Gooden video at the end of my review of the documentary. I’m sharing it again because I love it and he hits on the points I have, but funnier than me:
The idea of 52 is one area of focus a week for a year. If anyone got that far… Full disclosure, I was not able to finish this book. I got to Chapter 25, I noticed that not a single thing in the past five chapters sunk in.
I think the book mentioned saying ‘No’ to stuff that adds stress to one’s life. I’m taking that advice to heart and have returned it to the library.
Below are bullet points notes I took as I read along:
Chapter Two is called “Procrastinators Read This First”. How would we know to read this first? It’s the second chapter… Lord knows how long before we would get to that point in the book.
Each chapter is reallyreally short. Usually just an ancedote with some daily “practices”, which aren’t even that actionable.
“I recycle my schedule which made me feel eco savvy.” Mmmm…. Ma’am. That’s not how that works.
The author is very woowoo and believes in the Law of Attraction. Which isn’t a good sign.
Each chapter kinda reminds me of something you would read in a horoscope.
I don’t know who this book was written for! The book is too vague and unguided for self-help Newbies and too redundant for Veterans. I suppose it could be Baby’s second or third self-help book, but it’s written like crap. So I wouldn’t want that experience for anyone.
To conclude, I wasted more time and effort on this book than it’s worth. I have a long TBR list and I’m just going to move on to the next thing. I want to live more, by wanting less of this book’s existence.
If you are curious about books that aren’t a waste of time, you can read my rankings of Minimalism and Decluttering books here.
I heard about Fashionopolis as it was one of sources on a recent Climate Town video (which was awesome and you should totally watch after you’re done here).
Fashionopolis is the third book by Dana Thomas, published in 2019. She’s a careered fashion journalist for such esteemed publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Bazaar and more.
The book is set up in three parts.
Part One covers the history of mass produced garments. Starting in the industrial revolution to now in the world of over consumption, globalism and exploitation. Fun…
It did start exploring more modern manufacturing plants that are more automated and transparent about how the workers are being treated. Which is nice to know there’s some change in the industry to make things a tad bit safer. But at the same time the big fast fashion companies are still actively lobbying against countries like Bangladesh from raising the minimum wage.
This part was interesting but also extremely sad, since it really highlights the lack of care companies have for their employees lives or safety.
Part Two was more focused on material production and ‘rightshoring’ which is the return of garment manufacturing in first world countries with more more ethical and environmentally conscious practices. Or that is how I understood it in the context of the book. I googled it after finishing the book and my definition is off.
It gives reasons to why some garment manufacturing is coming back to the US and UK. As well as suppliers like dyes, wools, lower water cotton and more.
There were interviews some of the startups that are working on fabric recycling, particularly cotton/poly blends (which is shockingly common and currently essentially impossible to reuse or recycle (Secondhand covered the journey to the grave is covered really well in that book if you’re curious)).
Somewhere in this section we start hearing about Stella McCartney, the fashion designer. I knew her as the lady that designed that ugly jackets for Taylor Swift’s Lover merch. She’s also Paul McCartney’s daughter. #funfacts
But she’s been very active in reducing furs in luxury fashion, and has been investing and partnering with many of small manufacturers that are creating ethical or recycled materials. It was really cool. But also the book talked about her a lot. I don’t know if it’s because she’s the only one doing anything or if that just who the author could interview.
Part Three is about renting and sharing of clothing, as well as the second hand market. All of which have been growing in recent years. The author seemed to focus in on luxury rental companies (Like the Real Real). I think it would have been cool to have talked more which places like ThreadUp or Goodwill to discuss how the secondhand bomb has been effecting them. Since that’s where us normies get our second hand clothes.
I enjoyed Fashionopolis. I have an interest in fashion (or maybe garment production since I like sewing). And this book was filled with sooo much interesting information. However, when I read a book like this, I wish it was a documentary instead. The author tried describing this as much as she could but I want to see it. I ended up having to google some of the stuff mentioned just to understand what she’s talking about. So at the very least photos would have improved the reading experience. If you have a interest in fashion or curious about garment manufacturing this book is for you.
If you curious about over fashion related book review, my review for Project 333 is for you. Or check out all my book reviews here.
Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea are two childhood friends and the owners of the Quebec brand Dans le Sac. Which primarily sells reusable fabric bags, as they transitioned into a low waste, minimalist lifestyle. I attended a virtual interview that Indigo (a Canadian Bookstore) did with the authors. They seem quite nice. The few things I really remember about their talk (I lost the page I wrote my notes on) was their idea of Zero Waste, which isn’t trying to having all your trash for the year fit in a mason jar. But more the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
The book is a pretty short read at about 220 pages, Libby said that I finished the book in about 2 hours. Overall, I enjoyed it. There’s a lot of lists and DIY projects for different areas of the home and life, such as cleaning products, skincare and baby bum sprays to help live a low impact life.
I enjoyed the first couple chapters the most and got the most information out of them. They might be a bit basic, but cover the ideal of minimalism, the impact of humans on the environments and the idea of making ones on products to have more control of what is entering ones personal environment.
From the cleaning chapter onwards, they started to loose me a bit. Barrette and Mandrea really love essential oils! I have a below average sense of smell, so I don’t care about aromatherapy or essential oils. Also there’s a few really large multi-level marketing companies that sell oils. And that sales/company structure isn’t something I believe is ethical. To be clear, they weren’t pushing a certain brand or anything like that, just my prior knowledge of essential oils going into this book make me have a generally negative option about them.
I truly disagree with one point they had in there book. That was that essential oils are good for the planet. They mention that oils “triggered their green journey”. Kinda ironic given how material intensive the process can be (like 10,000 lbs of roses for one 1lbs of rose oil).
Also they encouraged putting essential oils on babies, they did have a disclaimer that it’s “controversial” to put these types of oils on babies but their didn’t have any issues with their kids. John Hopkins has an article with recommended amounts/usage. But I personally don’t think it’s a great idea. I’ve used tea tree oil on my skin before, and found it burnt a lot so I can’t imagine how a baby would feel.
I don’t have children but I did enjoy the chapter about raising minimalist kids that are environmentally conscious. A lot of it just leading by example but they have this list of environmentally friendly family actives that I just found really charming. Examples, like making salt dough, building bird houses, and growing veggies. That list is without a doubt my favorite part of the book.
At the end of the day it’s a pretty easy read, with really lovely photos, and with content you can find mostly on their website or if you spent enough time on Pinterest. I did read an interview with them that has a quote, that I think captures their intent with this book: “Packed with DIY project ideas, practical tips for reducing waste, and utterly drool-worthy photos, Minimal is a must read whether you’re motivated by love of the planet, the ‘gram, or both.”
To conclude, I would have enjoyed less essential oil talk, but others may not find it as annoying. If you see this book at a book store or the library I would say give it a quick flip through and read the kid friendly activity list but I don’t recommend spending money on it.
You can find some of my other minimalism review here.
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.
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 before 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.
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 clothing declutting process, 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.
The book was a light quick read filled with 80’s pop references and generally has feel good motivational vibe.
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.
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 book’s angle in the minimalism landscape is to include 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, particularly the clothes and home décor sections. The first step should be to pick your 5 favorited items that you definitely want to keep. This 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 mentioned the four archetypes of people that are starting their minimalism journey and which categories will be hardest for them. 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. Also 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.
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 helped them figure out why they held on to certain items.
So many books, including 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.
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.
Overall, I just found this book under developed. 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.
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…
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 sopretentious. 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.
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.