BOOK REVIEW: Minimal by Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea

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Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea are two childhood friends and the owners of the Quebec brand Dans le SacWhich 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.

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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.”

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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.

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 Actual Review Part:

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.

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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 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.

If you are looking exclusively for the rules of Project 333, her website ( 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.

You can find more minimalism book reviews here.

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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BOOK REVIEW : The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

I recently finished listening to The year of Less by Cait Flanders. Published in 2018, the book chronicles Cait’s journey through her year of being in a shopping ban. My friend Sam recommended it and I kept seeing it in Libby as related titles to other books I was reading.

The short review is: I enjoyed the book. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by the author which I though was nice, as it is her memoir.

I also liked that Cait is Canadian. As a Torontonian, it’s nice to read from authors that are in my neck of the woods (sometimes, most of the book took place in BC).

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The book starts with a prologue of Cait telling her friends that she’s going to do a shopping ban. Meaning she’s only going to buy food, gas, and an approved list of items. After that, each chapter is a reflection of one month of her journey.

As part of the ban, she also decided that she would  get rid of any extra items in her life. In July, her first month of the ban, she decluttered like 40 or 50% of her belonging. Which is pretty impressive.

The book is mostly reflection on her process, if you are looking for a practical guide or a step by step guide, this book isn’t it!

I noticed that the majority of the one star reviews come from people that expected it to be a guide, not a memoir. But if you read the full tile or the synopsis, this shouldn’t be an issue for you. But if you want a guide, see the last six pages of the book (#spoilers).

Although, its not a guide there were some take always. I though that her November chapter and facing Black Friday was the best, and most useful part of the book.

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Maybe because I was listening to large chucks of it at a time, I did find that some of her wording or things she was saying rather repetitive. For example, when she was talking about the stuff she quit before this year it would always the same words, in the same order.

This next part will seems cold, since her addictions are obviously important and transformative but I heard about it too often… I didn’t hear much about her trying to learn to sew or more logistics on how she was trying to go zero waste. Which would have been nice since those are both large projects.

Again it’s not a instruction manual, but I found she focused a lot on things that happened years ago than things that were happening during the year of her spending ban. It seems like she mastered sewing and going low waste without any sort of second thought, which I find unlikely. But I heard so much about her previous drinking habits in ways that didn’t make sense in the greater context of what was going on.

She mentioned in the epilogue she didn’t take up candle making but it would have been nice to have more of an exploration on her buying the supplies and why she ended up not using them. What was she doing instead? Not sure, it wasn’t developed.

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So overall a nice quick read/listen. I didn’t hate it, but it’s been a few days since I finished it and I don’t really remember much about it. I mentioned that to my friend that recommended it to me and we both agree on that point.

I do remember being very frustrated by her always buying books and never using her Library. She would donate her books to the library but didn’t actually use the resources. I found that part extremely frustrating!

On the podcast I listen to “Go Help Yourself” they always ask if this book needed to be written and who is it perfect and not perfect for. Which I think is a useful format to wrap up this book.

Did this book need to be written?

No. In my opinion, there was very few memoirs that need to be written. Without wanting to sound mean, this book didn’t present anything particularly new or revolutionary.

Who is this book perfect for?

I think its perfect for people that need to hear other peoples success stories as a way to motivate themselves. Very similar to people that watch cleaning videos to get themselves to clean. Or people that are just entering the minimalism/slow movement and want to see how others have done it.

Who is this not perfect for?

Based on the 1 star reviews on Goodreads, this book is terrible if you are looking for actionable advice and a step by step guide on how to live with less.

So that’s my review of A Year of Less by Cait Flanders. Have you read it or seen it in the bookstores/ library shelves? Let me know in the comments.

BOOK REVIEW: The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

This article was written for the blog that I run with my friend Olivia (originally posted on April 2020). But the content translates so I am cross posting it here.

I was on Libby (the best app in the world to consume ebooks or audiobooks) looking for something to read and decided on The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker. I’ve seen some of his YouTube videos before and decided to give it a borrow.

I personally don’t love his videos. I find him a bit preachy and he talks too slow. So, I was expecting to have bunch of content for the blog, because I expected lots of things to complain about. Because Annoyed/Angry Zoe is the only Zoe that can write articles.

But spoilers: it’s chill. The book was much better than expected.

So let’s get into it.


Joshua Becker is an American author. He has written 5 books about Minimalism, this one being his most recent. Prior to getting into Minimalism in 2008, he was pastor in Vermont. He now runs his website and YouTube channel about Minimalism, as well as being a contributing writer for Forbes. Apart from that, he is a Sagittarius, a father and runs a non-profit that helps foster orphans. 


Now that I’ve summarized his Wikipedia page for you, let’s get into summarizing the book for you.

The Minimalist Home is actually a pretty digestible and newbie-friendly book. The book is separated by room, with some interesting facts about clutter and usage in that room (ex: the average kitchen has 330 different items. So including duplicates/sets, it can be over 1000 items). He covers the history of his own decluttering process and there’s also testimonials from other people. These were really a hit or miss. Some of the testimonials/anecdotes added a different perspective or were sweet stories, while others were just bragging and annoying.

Next, there’s a step-by-step list on how to go through the room. Which, after the first few chapters, makes you notice that the steps are pretty much always the same.

The Becker Method goes for the room-by-room approach rather than item category like clothes or books (aka the KonMari Method from Marie Kondo). I think the Becker Method makes more sense, especially if this is the first time you’re decluttering.

If you’ve ever watched people do the KonMari of pilling all their clothes on their bed, you’ll see how they look like they just died inside. This book doesn’t encourage any of that kind of attitude. The KonMari method might make more sense as a second pass when you can more easily tell if you have the same things in multiple locations.

The first step of the Becker Method is pretty much always to tidy up and remove all the stuff that doesn’t belong in that area. After that, you basically go through and decide what you’re using or lines up with how you want the space to be used. 


Overall, I found that this book was a quick read. There were some things that I didn’t like, such as encouraging me to Tweet passages that I found inspiring with suggested hashtags. Having hashtags really dates the text; and to be honest, I skipped over it every time it popped up in the book.

I also found the book to be a bit patronizing at times; although not as much as the second half of Goodbye Things. This is most likely due to his background of being a pastor, but his push towards altruism and community service became a bit annoying. He only mentioned God twice if I recall correctly, but was never pushing his beliefs on the reader. It was just an underlying theme that after you declutter you need to do something to serve the community with your new found time.

Canva - Mechanical Computer Keyboard

In the office section, he doesn’t understand the idea of people playing games on their computer. The dude is 45, he knows that video games exist, and is pretty condescending to dismiss them as something that people enjoy playing and would want to spend their free time pursuing. He also makes many comments at his kids’ expenses about trying to get them away from screens and play outside. 

Nearly every single Minimalist I know in real life is a massive gamer; they seem to understand the concept of the movement in a way that I haven’t been able to achieve. For example, they don’t buy a million gaming chairs, they do some research and buy one really good one. Or the one PewDiePie owns… But in general, they only own the physical items they want and/or use. 

Anyways, now that I went off a really weird tangent… that was all to say that Becker’s personal philosophies are not to my taste, but the actual Becker Method outlined in the second part of this book is really clear and easy to follow. It’s great if you are a bit overwhelmed or are looking for inspiration for Spring Cleaning or getting ready for Yard Sale Season (jk… it’s 2020… yard sales aren’t happening this year). 


The last part of the book was for after you’ve decluttered and it mainly focuses on maintenance (aka just putting stuff away when you’re done with them). The second main topic of this section is a large push toward downsizing your home. This part was definitely the most unrelatable portion of the book for me, as a childless renter living with my roommate in a 900 sqft apartment (which is actually quite large for the city).

He talked about the money you’ll save from lower maintenance costs and less gas/electric to heat the house. He also mentions that in 2017, the average mortgage of a home was around $1000. That sentence made me so upset. I wish I could mortgage a full ass house for around $1000 per month. Some of the cheapest places ‘near me’ would be about $1,300 per month and a 1.5-2 hour drive (each way) from my work. That’s without including the mortgage insurance, property taxes and other monthly expenses. I do understand that it’s an average and not the mode of mortgages. Long story short, I got heated because I started thinking about the housing crisis.

Overall whole last part of the book was really tone-deaf, like when he mentioned renting, he makes it sound like it’s something people are choosing to do and not the only option they have for a variety of reasons that I don’t want to get into because it makes me sad and angry. Becker seems to have come from a place for privilege and has been very fortunate in life. He does seem to use that privilege to help others, but there are many moments throughout the book where his limited perspective weakens his message. 

Brown and Black House Miniature

Ultimately, would I recommend this book? If you live in a house, this book makes a lot of sense. If you live in an apartment/condo, most of this won’t apply to you. I would say to give it a flip through if you can get it at the library. Then probably skip part 3, my eyes were glazing over for the majority of the time as it’s just a Gen Xer mansplaining homeownership and what it’s like to have goals and aspirations. 

I do know I’m not the target demographic for this book, but on the other hand, this book didn’t make my life worse. Especially in the first half of the book and with the checklist format for the Method makes it easy to follow if you wanted to go through your home and declutter.

BOOK REVIEW: Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism By Fumio Sasaki

This article was written for the blog that I run with my friend Olivia (originally posted on Dec 2019). But the content translates so I am cross posting it here. My friends and I still joke about this book encouraging only owning a singular towel. I appreciates Sasaki’s desire for simplicity but one towel is wayyyy to little.

A few weeks ago, I was at home and scrolling through YouTube looking for something to watch and decided to click on the channel Vested Interest. She does a bunch of Minimalist stuff, and I’ve been binging all her videos since. There’s something about her no-nonsense voice and dry humour that I really gravitate towards. It’s obvious that she has other interests aside from ‘not owning things’ so she feels more relatable than other Minimalist content I’ve consumed in the past (I’m looking at you, The Minimalists).

See the example below of the type of content people think of when they think of minimalism:

Anyways, all this to say, that she mentioned ‘Goodbye, Things‘ in a video. The e-book was available at the library, so I borrowed it.

Goodbye, thing book cover

The book is part biography, part self-help as 35 year old Fumio Sasaki talks about his journey of discovering Minimalism and how it’s the bees’ knees.

The first part of the book features the Before and After of Sakaki’s apartment. As well as a photo gallery of all the items he currently owns. After that, he shares pictures of all the possessions of a few other Japanese Minimalists.

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So, I do most of my reading on the subway, hence the idea of flipping through a bunch of photos of people’s belongings when I know people can look over my shoulder is not my idea of a fun time. 

I ended up skipping through that chapter because if I wanted to borrow a picture book, I would… 

It was at this point that I debated returning the book; but again, I was on the subway and wanted something to help me pass the time, so I continued. If I didn’t like it by the time I got above ground, I would return it and borrow something else when I got Wi-Fi.

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The next part Sasaki talks about his life before getting rid of all his crap. Sad, fat, and disrespectful to women (Spoilers: he admits to fixing ⅔ of these issues because of minimalism. At no point in the book does he outright say that he’s respectful to women because of minimalism. We can assume since he is more self-aware and he realizes his past actions were hurtful. But I do think it’s weird that I know more about this dude’s old bookshelf than whether or not he’s respectful to half the population). 

Minus the disrespect to women, there were parts of the introduction that really, really resonated with me. Below are some quotes from the introduction and first chapter that are #bigmood!

Every chapter starts with a few quotes. The one before the first or second chapter: “You aren’t your fucking khakis” from Fight Club.

That quote hit me hard as I was wearing khakis that day. Pants I only bought because my boss told me to, which made that quote hit even closer to home.

After reading that line, I decided that I would actually read the book. Swearing in my decluttering book? Marie Kondo would never! He does actually mention her in the book, but there’s actually not that much overlap in ideas or methods. So if you’ve read Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you could still find value in this book.

The first few chapters talk about Japan and why decluttering and minimalism is growing in popularity there. Marie Kondo is one of the reason. But a reason that would have never crossed my mind, and was interesting to read, was the impact of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. People’s stuff was falling all around them, and their prized possessions were turned into weapons within moments. Or people lost so much of their belongings in the floods.

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After a bit more about minimalism and why people accumulate so much stuff in the first place, he gets into the meat and potatoes of the book:

55 ways to say goodbye to your things (+15 more tips on your way to your minimalist journey)

Yes, it sounds like a Buzzfeed article, and it’s partially written like one. The book is really quick to read since it’s all relatively short paragraphs about each point.

There are a few good and bad pieces in this section, but I will not be covering it all. But here are some of the ones that stayed with me after I finished the book. 

A good one…

When you bring something big into your life. It’s never one item. His example was a bike. It’s not just the bike, it’s the helmet, Speedometer, patch kit, extra tires, tire pump. One item just became five or more. He warns readers to be aware of the baggage that comes with bringing items into your life. 

A bad one…

A recurring thing that I noticed in his tips was the idea that if you really need something, you can just buy a new one at the corner store. I don’t agree with that, and it promotes a weird level of Consumerism. The concept of buying stuff when you need it, get rid of it and buying again.

Most Minimalists mention that rarely (or don’t ever) replace an item they declutter. But I didn’t like the blasé way he talked about just mindlessly buy when you need something. He mentions that he doesn’t research his purchases because he doesn’t need to know all the bells and whistles of the thing he’s getting, only that it serves the purpose he requires. I disagree with this. Research allows you to know you’re getting a quality item so you won’t have to get rid of because it broke.

This was even weirder when he was talking about how Minimalism is really good for the environment. Which, in general, I agree, if you don’t buy stuff, you’re helping the planet by not creating demand for new items. 

Although I know this wasn’t his intention, he did make it sound like being a Minimalist gives you a free pass at buying stuff that is shit for the environment, since you don’t do it often. 

This is probably me over-reading the tone of the text since if there aren’t any good quotes in the book that would prove my point. If this was an essay for school, and trying to prove that the book encourages Consumerism, I would fail since there are way more instances when he talks about the importance of sharing, borrowing or renting the things you need on rare occasions. Which are all practices that totally reduce an individual’s environmental impact. But there was something in that section that really rubbed me the wrong way regardless.

Canva - Desk, Coffee Chemex, phone, laptop

I do think that he’s the type of Minimalist that gives the lifestyle/movement a really bad reputation (him and the two guys from The Minimalists, they are super annoying, which isn’t relevant, but still needed to be said). He doesn’t own any furniture, he owns one towel that he uses for his dishes, himself, and for cleaning his apartment.

I mentioned this fact to a bunch of people and we all agree, that it’s taking it too far and is pretty gross.  I don’t think you have to return your black and white minimalist member card if you own a bath tower and a dish towel. 

Canva - Photo of Woman With Black Towel on Her Head

After the Buzzfeed article portion of the book, it does get really repetitive and preachy. He’s like “Minimalism will make you skinny! Why? ‘Cause I don’t know any fat Minimalists”. That part made me so angry. I sort of want to get rid of all my stuff and get fatter just to spite him.

So those were the main thoughts that I had about the book. Overall, it was rather repetitive, very repetitive, so repetitive. The book could have easily been cut down by at least 50 pages. 

The number of times that he mentioned that he had soooo many bookshelves filled with books he never read was getting on my nerves since there were about three instances where it didn’t even make sense. Funny enough, he only mentioned getting rid of his guitar once. Diversify your examples, my dude… 

Canva - Beige and Black Chair in Front of White Desk

I’m going to wrap this post up with the portion of the book that resonated with me the most. It was the part that got me on board with really evaluating your objects and decluttering. 

It’s the idea of the Silent To Do list. Every item in your house, is silently yelling for you to do something with it. I’ll take my apartment as a way to explain. 

  • I need to change the light in my hallway, every time I turn on the switch and it doesn’t work, I’m reminded of that;
  • My watch needs a new battery, and I can’t use it until I replace it;
  • I need to dust probably every item in my living room; and 
  • I never installed the TV mount attached to my TV and the box with all the parts is sitting on my TV stand, like they have for the past year and a half. 

As he explained this idea, I was just thinking of all my To-Do list items that are indirectly related to the maintenance of shit I own. That doesn’t even include that these items are yelling for you to use them for recreational purposes too. 

Did that one part suddenly make me only want to wear black turtlenecks and move into a yurt? No, but it did make the idea of getting rid of some extra stuff appealing. The stuff my life that might be weighing me down and making my chore list longer than it needs to be.

Canva - Man Standing Near Building White Black Turtleneck Shirt
Not me post reading this book

Overall, would I recommend this book? It was a really quick read, so if you find it at the library, I would say flip through the 55 point list while drinking a tea/coffee. Otherwise, probably not. I would definitely suggest avoiding the audiobook because you don’t have the luxury of skipping the repetitive/boring parts when it’s being read to you. 

The book has inspired me; and I do relate to the introduction, pre-minimalism Sasaki. My friend Sam pointed out when I was describing him that “he sounds like he’s just got depression.” Yikes, that’s not a good sign, since pre-minimal Sasaki is #superbigmood. 

Anyways… My challenge to you, if you choose to accept it: Declutter one thing, whatever was the thing that popped into your head when you read this setence. Just get rid of it. 

Do that shit today!

But I hoped you enjoyed this post. Are you into the Minimalist movement? Or do you think it’s filled with weird Steve Job wannabes? Feel free to comment below.