Simple Matters

Title: Simple Matters: Living with less and ending up with more
Author: Erin Boyle 
Genre: Lifestyle, Minimalism, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: January 12th, 2016

Keeping with my current pattern of books on minimalism and simplicity, I picked up Simple Matters from the library, and am now wishing that I had bought it instead. That’s how good it is. I can’t wait to have it among other favorites on the shelf. So let me tell you a bit about it.

In addition to the beautiful, subtle pictures throughout the book, Simple Matters shares truths and wisdoms that I believe anyone can apply to their home and lifestyle. I loved the author’s perspective, having lived in a small flat in NY. Not only did she make the best of the small space that she had, but she made it a home.

This book has it all, beginning with decluttering, simplifying, and organizing, but not stopping there. She goes on to discuss decorating, bath & beauty, getting dressed, cooking & entertaining, cleaning, and finally thriving. I appreciated how thorough Simple Matters was. Not just tackling the clutter (which is essential) but making your home a place where you can rest and grow and thrive.

Each different chapter in Simple Matters was well thought out and intentional about things concerning the home and the body. On a bigger scale, living smaller benefits our environment, too, by being more sustainable, and less wasteful. If you are interested in minimalism, or just a simpler approach to a sustainable life, this book is for you!

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

The More of Less

Title: The More of Less: Finding the life you want under everything you own
Author: Joshua Becker
Genre: Minimalism, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: WaterBrook
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Joshua Becker, creator of, defines minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.” I like this definition because it encourages things in our lives, but not just “things” – the right things! Don’t you love the idea of being surrounded by only the things that add value to your life? I know I do.

One thing I personally appreciated in Becker’s perspective of minimalism was the way he tied it to Jesus. With his teachings on selling your possessions and giving to the poor, and storing up treasures in heaven, we can see that Jesus was a minimalist before his time! Now I don’t think any of us are saying that possessions themselves are wrong; instead, the point Becker makes is that “excess possessions keep up from fulfilling our purpose.”

When we consume less, we have more time, energy, and resources to spend not just on ourselves, but on others as well. Becker states, “People who give away possessions hold their remaining possessions in higher esteem. People who donate money are far less wasteful with the money left over. And people who give their time make better use of their remaining time.” That’s the kind of lifestyle I’m interested in living.

To summarize, minimalism should bring more meaning to our lives by removing things that are truly meaningless. In having less, we find that we really have more – more time, more money, more energy. More of everything that matters, and less of everything that doesn’t.

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

Banish Clutter Forever

Title: Banish Clutter Forever: How the toothbrush principle will change your life
Author: Sheila Chandra
Genre: Minimalism, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Vermilion
Release Date: March 4th, 2010

So you are probably wondering what the toothbrush principle is (or maybe you don’t care at all, that’s fine too). The idea behind the toothbrush principle is this: no matter how unorganized someone is, they never lose their toothbrush. The system behind it is automatic because it is essential to life (or it should be).

A concept of the toothbrush principle is zoning, which “involves placing things needed for a particular task where they will be used. Ideally as close to that place as possible. This means that you are more likely to replace them correctly without thinking after you have finished with them, since you are already there.”

Another concept of this principle is completion, “to put things back just where they will be needed, immediately afterwards… Ideally, completion should become an addiction that drives you towards replacing things correctly first time.”

Chandra defines clutter as “any thing that you don’t feel good about or that stops you using your space in a way that either empowers or nurtures you.” The purpose of this book is not just how to get rid of your clutter, but the why behind it. When we confront our clutter and clear it from our lives, we can see ourselves, our circumstances, and our ambitions with more clarity.

One analogy I loved in this book was that of Elizabeth Bennet from one of my favorite books, Pride and Prejudice. She could have settled for Mr. Collins, a safe but boring guy, and guaranteed some security for her family, sacrificing her own happiness in the process. But she didn’t settle, and in the end she married Mr. Darcy (sorry if that was a spoiler, but the book is over 200 years old), the man she loved who happened to be desperately rich. This story can apply to real life – “if the space for the thing you really want is full of something not quite right, when it does come along, it will go away again… you won’t be able to take advantage of the opportunity.”

So get rid of your clutter to create space for the things that you really want in life!

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

The Book of Hygge

Title: The Book of Hygge: The Danish art of contentment, comfort, and connection
Author: Louisa Thomsen Brits 
Genre: Hygge, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Ebury Press
Release Date: August 18th, 2016

I think it’s worth mentioning that hygge is pronounced hoo-gah. Now you know, you’re welcome. This book defines hygge as “a quality of presence and an experience of belonging and togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted, and sheltered.” (This makes me think of The Shire, Bag End. The hobbits sure knew a thing or two about hygge.)

This book describes 6 aspects of what hygge looks like in the lives of the Danish, who are some of the happiest people in the world.

Belonging – “At the heart of hygge is an experience of belonging and a sense of connection. It’s most often associated with being in the company of others, but we can enjoy hygge alone.”

Shelter – “Hygge is housed by an experience of shelter. The foundation of that shelter is our basic sense of security… Tryghed is the experience of everyday well-being, safety, peace of mind, and freedom rolled together that supports the framework of daily life.”

Comfort – “Hygge is the basic language of comfort, a vernacular common to us all, and the way that we seek comfort is one of the foundational elements of cultures worldwide. Every culture has a vocabulary of scent, texture, taste, sight, and sound that speaks to the hearts and bodies of its people.”

Well-being – “… is about a deep rapport with ourselves and the world around us. Hygge strengthens that rapport by nurturing consideration, responsiveness, and delight in our relationships with the places we inhabit and the people who make up our families and communities.”

Simplicity – “Hygge… is both an inner and outer condition of simplicity; a clarity of presence and intention, and an honest, uncomplicated, practice… Hygge is a timeless practice, an everyday mindfulness that comes from a wholehearted participation in life.”

Observance – “The observance inherent in hygge opens our eyes to the value of tradition and to the quality of soul slightly concealed in the details and commonplaces of ordinary life – the objects that are most alive and connected to the world through daily use and the modest activities that we repeat.”

This was a light, yet meaningful, book that was enjoyable to read. The idea of hygge resonates deeply with me, and I have been looking for and practicing it in my life without having the word for it – but now I do.

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

The Curated Closet

Title: The Curated Closet
Author: Anuschka Rees
Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help, Style
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: September 20th, 2016

“Buy less, choose well, and make it last.” ~ Vivienne Westwood

Continuing a similar theme as last week, this week’s review is on decluttering (yay!) and curating your closet until all that is left are pieces that you love, that fit you and your style perfectly. (Again, I give you permission to skip this post if it is not your thing. I have been reading books like this because it appeals to this specific season of my life. Moving four times in one year has a way of making you want to live as minimally as possible!)

When I first picked up this book, I actually thought it was about closet organization. Which, to some extent, I suppose it is. But more than that, it is about cultivating a style that is personal to you. This is not based on fashions and trends that change week to week. It’s about discovering what you love to wear, what looks good on you (and what doesn’t), and developing a wardrobe that reflects that unique style.

There is one system used in this book that I will continue to use for the rest of my life. (I even got my husband on board, too.) I like it because it makes you think before you shop, and especially before you buy, to help prevent a buildup of clothing that you don’t need or won’t wear. (I also like this system because it involves lists!)

So here it is. Make a list of items that are high priority, medium priority, and low priority. This should help keep you on track when shopping so you don’t end up buying things you don’t actually want or need. For example, under my high priority list is a good-quality winter coat, as I will be spending this upcoming year in Montana. Now that’s what I call high priority! Under my low priority list is an Emma Swan leather jacket (any Once Upon a Time fans can probably picture what I’m talking about). I don’t need an Emma Swan leather jacket, but I would love to have one in my dream closet. The items in your list can be wants, not just needs – but maybe they appear on a lower priority list.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and my closet is better off after reading it. I know it will be a bit of a process to obtain a closet that reflects my own style perfectly, but it will be worth it in the long run to have clothing that fits well, that is made well, and that I look forward to wearing.

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

The Joy of Less

Title: The Joy of Less
Author: Francine Jay
Genre: Nonfiction, Lifestyle, Minimalism, Self Help
Publisher: Anja Press
Release Date: June 25th, 2010

This week’s post is different than my usual YA book reviews, as it is a self-help book about minimalism. If this is not your thing, feel free to skip this post; but personally, I believe everyone can benefit from some decluttering in their lives, whether you want to call yourself a “minimalist” or not.

In this quick read, Francine Jay uses her STREAMLINE method to approach decluttering. So here’s what it stands for:

Start over

Trash, treasure, or transfer

Reason for each item

Everything in its place

All surfaces clear



If one comes in, one goes out

Narrow down

Everyday maintenance

The STREAMLINE lifestyle is intended to help you maximize space in your home and in your life, giving you more time and energy to do the things that really matter to you. There were so many wonderful take-aways from this book, but I will limit myself to sharing only the top 5 ideas that stood out to me most:

  1. Once we’ve covered our basic needs, our happiness has very little to do with the amount of stuff we own. 
  2. Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away. 
  3. Every time a new item comes into your home, a similar item must leave. 
  4. Clear surfaced are not only pleasing to the eye, they’re beneficial to the mind. 
  5. To maintain clutter-free storage spaces, you must be a good gatekeeper.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or stressed, or just feeling like you need to take a closer look at the things you have (and really need) in your life.

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

Red Queen: a series review

Series: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Books: Red Queen, Glass Sword, King’s Cage, War Storm
Novellas: Queen Song, Steel Scars
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen
Overall series rating:

For a review of each of these books, follow these links:

Red Queen
Glass Sword
King’s Cage
War Storm
Cruel Crown

WARNING: mild spoilers. 

When I first started this series back in 2015, I thought I had found a new favorite. I LOVED the first book, and I had high hopes for the rest of the series. Unfortunately, the first book was the only one to get my 5-rose rating.

So what happened to cause a rating of 5 to drop to a rating of 3 for the other three books and two novellas?

Not much. That’s what happened.

The second book had so much of the same thing: the finding, recruiting, and training of newbloods.

Book three had so much of the same thing: Mare and Maven and their twisted relationship.

Book four had so much of the same thing: everyone talking about taking Maven down.

Other things happened, definitely. And there were some good parts that I really enjoyed. But this series dragged on and on and on. The story probably could have been told in half as many words, and been better for it. I had such a hard time remembering what was happening, who some people even were, and why I liked the series to begin with.

Believe me when I say that I wanted to love this series – instead, I lost all interest in it after the first book.

What do you think? Have you read the Red Queen series? I’d love to know what you thought of it!