Minimalism meets Memoir
The idea of minimalism is not new to this blog, having made multiple posts previously about minimalism as a parent, small living, and just how much stuff you don’t need to raise happy and healthy kids, I am constantly trying to learn more about the topic. When I had the chance to read Cait Flanders The Year of Less it seemed like something I could dive headfirst into, and I was absolutely correct. The premise of the book is a simple one, having paid off $30,000 of consumer debt due to aggressive savings, Cait learned to live with less which led her to embark on her next adventure, which was a yearlong shopping ban. The shopping ban was not entirely cold turkey, she allowed herself a small list of things she could purchase that included toiletries, replacing things that were broken, or gifts for other. Throughout her book she touches on the how and why that list came to be, as well as how it changed throughout her journey. The book took me on a journey that uncovered not only the mindful consumerism that I have learned to vibe with, but also added an interesting emotional layer as she went through many personal ups and downs. Cait’s book took a deep dive into the mindset of addiction, as well as how societal and environmental stressors lead to the bigger, better, faster mindset that led her to embark on this challenging journey.
The flow of Cait’s book was airy and logical, she was able to tie in a handful of topics back to the main idea of her year long shopping ban without making it seem clunky, or that she was trying to do too much with the topic. I really adored how she broke down exactly how and why she did the things she did, as well as the helpful stats at the beginning of every chapter that allowed the reader to see quantitative data that backed up her methods to a minimalistic life of less. Cait was forthcoming and honest in every aspect of her journey, she admitted when she wasn’t doing so hot, and was always willing to tell you why. The thing I really liked about this was that she didn’t try to hide from her readers that she was in fact human during this experiment, which made it relatable as hell. A lot of times when reading books in this genre it’s hard to not feel lesser than the authors as they seemingly appear to have their life together even when they say they don’t, but luckily the honesty and transparency that Cait shared made her story seem relatable. She created her narrative with the idea that anyone could potentially get similar results using her strategies.
As much as I loved her emotional honesty, at times it felt slightly exhausting. There were points where it seemed that she dragged out her emotional suffering to fill pages. That sounds extremely harsh so let me explain, I enjoyed that she let herself be honest and open with her struggles, but at times it seemed to detract from the true subject matter of the book which was to live with less. Emotional state can lead to clutter and falling off the wagon and her honesty was very brave to bare her soul to the world. With that being said, I found it difficult to read as it felt like it didn’t fit into the flow of the book. As life throughs unexpected curveballs, obviously her emotional journey took up more time in chapters that it would have in real time during her journey, however it sometimes over shadowed the true meaning of her work and left the reader a little confused. I had thought the book would have been a more practical guide, but it read more as a memoir, and even though it was great, she was able to sum up the extent of her project in the afterwards to let other readers give it a try.
The Wrap Up:
If you’re looking for a read that’s able to be tackled in a weekend and will bring some solid insight into how to live with less and how to handle the emotional baggage that comes with it, Cait Flanders The Year of Less is worth picking up. If you’re interested in participating in a shopping ban of your own, Cait also ran a personal blog at the time of her journey, which can be found here.