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.

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