When I was re-installing the library app on my phone, I decided to use it as an opportunity to read books that I would not otherwise pick up, to use it to further my reading horizons and take a chance on things with nothing to lose. Since I am starting university soon, I ended up looking at books about managing life, and having a fulfilling existence. I was intrigued and borrowed this book, having seen it a couple of times during my work at Oxfam, and I am glad that I did.
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.
I loved this book, I thought that it was very quick and easy to read with not a lot of time wasted on information and stories we did not need. While there was quite a bit of backstory i this book, often with pages dedicated to explaining situations, it helped the reader understand why the author was making her choices and what life experience she was coming from. This humanised the author from someone who became incredibly frugal for no apparent reason and had an easy life, to someone who had been through a lot, and had many struggles throughout the year long experiment making it a lot more accessible to those who think that this might me too much for them.
More was never the answer. The answer, it turned out, was always less.
While I do believe that those who are able to do this challenge as a challenge and not as a way of life are unbelievably privileged, I think that this book is a good read for those in the position to undergo a similar minimizing process. As I said, this book is clear to read with each chapter being quite short and representing a month of the year, it doesn’t hold back with the ugly truths of life. The language in this book is simple and easy to understand, in a way that is almost conversational, making the book a breeze to read.
I give this book 5 stars.