The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders || Book Review

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Number of Pages: 189
Rating: 2.5/5 stars


Synopsis

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less

Review

It had been a while since I opened a book (or in this case an e-book). I was on day 3 of scrolling through the library books available online at that exact moment when I stumbled upon The Year of Less. In my time away from blogging, I thought a lot about my spending habits (i.e. buying books that I wasn’t reading yet!!) and how it was impacting my overall life. I was putting money into savings every month, paid off my student loans, began really saving for buying a house — but I was (and still am) stuck with the question: Am I doing enough for my future financially?

I flew through the pages of The Year of Less not because it was a well-written book, but rather the underlying message spoke deeply to me.

If I could describe the writing style of The Year of Less in a single word it would be: whiny. This book was mainly memoir of a 20-something who made some major mistakes in her life and overcame huge obstacles to get back on her feet, but the writing was not good. There were sections of the novel that repeated the same line multiple times. I had to flip back and forth to make sure I wasn’t having double vision.

The 5% of the book focused on decluttering your life and saving money for your financial future sparked a little light under my butt. I came home and grabbed a garbage bag and sat in the bathroom to begin to throw away all of the extra, superfluous items in my life. I made my way through one cabinet and needed a break… could be my sleep schedule, could be my interest or maybe I just completely overwhelmed myself. But I began the process of clearing out the clutter.

“But there were really only two categories I could see: the stuff I used, and the stuff I wanted the ideal version of myself to use.”

The concept in the memoir that I found the most interesting (and unrealistic) was how she emptied her closet down to something nutty like 25 articles of clothing. She lived in Canada — are there not TWO+ seasons in Canada where you need different styles of clothing? Can you really function with only one pair of shoes?? (Says the girl who ordered a new pair of boots from Kohls last night…)

So for those of you who have made it this far, could you pare your closet down to 25 articles of clothing/shoes? At this moment, that is truly just unrealistic for me, and likely most people. I have 25+ articles of clothing specifically for work. Is that overkill? Yes, likely. But oooooof – This is the one place that I couldn’t jump on the decluttering band-wagon (You could also ask Michael who painfully threw away 15 pairs of my old, ratty vans and converse a few years ago when he was helping me pack to move… RIP SHOES).

If I’m feeling generous (which I am because she sparked a light under my butt), I would give The Year of Less a 2.5 out of 5 rating. Her editor could’ve pared down the stories; she could’ve been less whiny in her writing and poor me attitude. If I didn’t take away bits and pieces of her message, I would’ve likely rated it a 1.5 or 2.

146 Days

It’s been 146 days since I last logged onto WordPress. The app fell by the wayside on my phone and notifications were deleted from my email. It’s not that I stopped thinking about writing; but I was unsure of what I wanted to contribute. I longed to be part of the book and blogging community and I was frustrated by my lack of progress and my inability to put words onto the page.

I could see the hiatus coming from a mile away – the amount of time lapse from post to post, my non-desire to crack open a book. 2019 has been the year of change and growth figuring out who I want to be and for the last five months, books hadn’t been a part of it. I’ve grown to understand that changes looks different for everyone and for me part of the time I felt like I was treading water trying to figure out what the new normal looked like.

But I’m back (again). I wanted this post to serve as a reintroduction to all of my old followers and any new ones that I acquired in my absence.

Things To Know About Me:
– I have a fiancé (Michael) and a cat (Harper).
– Up to this point, I have seen 41 movies in theater this year (an updated Movie Stubs post will be coming).
– I love to cook and exercise; I am getting back into my love of reading.
– I watch a lot of television every week thanks to my DVR.
– My favorite foods are chicken fingers (or wings) and curly French fries, extra crispy.

I scrolled back to my January 3, 2019 post titled Reading Resolutions + Challenges 2019. I am not surprised that I have not met my goals or participated in the challenges that I set out to complete – and honestly, that is okay by me. My resolutions for 2019 are going to roll into 2020 next month. I still plan on being intentional with my posts and my words.

The one thing I’m going to do in 2020 is not actively participate in any group reading challenges. Throughout 2018-2019 when I was picking out items that I wanted to read I felt pressure to read a book that fit the qualifications for those (many) challenges. So in 2020, I am going to read what I want to read. My reading goal is going to be slightly smaller: 24 books in 12 months.

One of the things I realized is that I stopped doing some of the things that I loved (i.e. reading and bullet journaling) because of the extra stress I was placing on those areas to be perfect. That seems unhealthy to me. So we start over from the beginning.

I’ve read two books in the last week:

  • The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
  • The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

Let me rephrase that – I flew through these two books this week. I couldn’t put either of them down. The Year of Less is a whiny millennial memoir with an undertow of a deep message that brought me back to my blog and The Perfect Couple was a mystery page turner. It no longer mattered the genre or number of pages when I was scrolling through the books available on the library website for online viewing. It was the 1) synopses and 2) covers that carried me in.

I am still sticking with my word of the year: intention. I don’t feel like I’ve done it justice and I want to do better.

I just wanted to thank you for reading my welcome back blog post whether this is your first time visiting Arguably Alexis or you are a returning visitor. I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday with your families and that you have a safe rest of the Holiday season.

xx Alexis