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

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!

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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 BecomingMinimalist.com, 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!

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. I highly recommend for anyone interested in such a lifestyle.

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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. 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.

This is a good book for you if you are looking to get rid of your clutter to create space for the things that you really want in life!

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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.”

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.

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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. 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.

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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
Modules
Limits
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.

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction, Lifestyle, Minimalism, Self Help
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: January 15th, 2011

The need for a reset, not just in my home but in my life as well, prompted me to pick up this book for yet another read. The KonMari Method boils down to deciding the things in your home that you really love, the things that “spark joy,” and respectfully discarding the rest. (The exception to this statement are the things we need for our jobs, our health, etc.) When we rid our homes of all the excess, we realize how much we truly need in order to live a happy life. When we let go of things we have needlessly held on to, we are able to process our past in a healthy way and live for the here and now. This can also help empower us to go after the future we want for ourselves. And by giving your house a detox, you give your life one as well.

This book is the book for you if you are looking to get down to the basics of your life, and free yourself of anything that might be holding you back. It’s the perfect read for a weekend afternoon, but make sure you leave yourself time to jump off the couch and begin setting your home in order, because that is exactly what you will want to do!

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