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

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.

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!

The Last Battle

Title: The Last Battle
Author: C.S. Lewis
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia, 7/7
Genre: Adventure, Allegorical, Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Release Date: September 4th, 1956

Note: This post reviews the seventh and final book of The Chronicles of Narnia series. You may like to read the first six books in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeThe Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair before reading this review. 

For seven weeks, I will be reviewing The Chronicles of Narnia, a classic in my opinion. I’ve lost track of how many times I have read these books. Hopefully my reviews will give you a glimpse of why I love these books so much, and maybe even convince you to read them if you haven’t already.

In this final book, Eustace and Jill return to Narnia in yet another time of great need. When a false Aslan deceives the people of Narnia for selfish gain, the king of Narnia is denounced and exiled by his own people. Eustace and Jill do whatever they can to expose this charade for what it actually is – not Aslan the lion, but a misguided donkey dressed up as a lion.

In The Last Battle, we join these characters on the final adventure of all, as they face a great war and ultimately say goodbye to the old Narnia and enter into the new Narnia – a better version in every way. This is a beautiful, yet melancholy, ending to this fantastic series, and one of my favorites!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

 

The Silver Chair

Title: The Silver Chair
Author: C.S. Lewis
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia, 6/7
Genre: Adventure, Allegorical, Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Release Date: January 1st, 1953

Note: This post reviews the sixth book of The Chronicles of Narnia series. You may like to read the first five books in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeThe Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader before reading this review. 

For seven weeks, I will be reviewing The Chronicles of Narnia, a classic in my opinion. I’ve lost track of how many times I have read these books. Hopefully my reviews will give you a glimpse of why I love these books so much, and maybe even convince you to read them if you haven’t already.

Eustace returns to Narnia for a second time in The Silver Chair, bringing his friend Jill with him. When they arrive, they are charged by Aslan himself with an important quest: to rescue the rightful prince of Narnia. Eustace and Jill are given instructions from Aslan that will lead them to the prince – but their quest proves much more difficult than they could have imagined.

With the help of Puddleglum, a marsh wiggle, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime, facing human-eating giants, an evil enchantress, a mad prince, and an underworld kingdom of darkness. The future of Narnia, and its true prince, depends on our three, unprepared heroes.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in the series: