The Joy of Less | REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

eatbetter-4.jpg

by: Kate Saffle


"Before there was KonMari or minimalism or tiny houses gone mainstream, there was the joy of less, and I hope it inspires you to change your life and home as it has for me."


**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

When my oldest daughter was a newborn we moved cross-country for my husband’s job. Swimming in boxes and baby gear, while trying to navigate the major life changes of a new home and a baby, I gravitated toward minimalism as a lifeline and philosophy. While searching for guidance on how to declutter and simplify my home I came across Francine Jay’s self-published book The Joy of Less: a Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify originally released in 2010.

This week Jay, the popular blogger behind Miss Minimalist, is releasing a completely revised version of her book with two new chapters on clutter-free families and the impact of minimalism on the environment and others. The book is divided into four parts: philosophy, streamline, room by room, and lifestyle, providing a comprehensive approach to living minimally and creating a cohesive home. Read on for my review of The Joy of Less as well as a giveaway at the end!*


PART ONE | PHILOSOPHY

The beginning of the book sets the stage for a lifestyle overhaul as Jay deftly guides the reader to discover the root cause of our clutter. She shines a light on how materialism and the media have captured our attention, changed our shopping habits, and created a culture of desiring more. Using a proactive and positive approach, Jay helps us to see ourselves and our lives as having value and worth separate from the objects within our homes.

She says, “As we examine our things with a critical eye, we may be surprised how many of them commemorate our past, represent our hopes for the future, or belong to our imaginary selves.”


She says, “As we examine our things with a critical eye, we may be surprised how many of them commemorate our past, represent our hopes for the future, or belong to our imaginary selves.”


How can we enjoy our lives and embrace the present if we are surrounded by objects that firmly hold us in place? Rather, Jay believes that by decluttering and simplifying, we can find freedom to enjoy our lives fully--free from financial burdens, free from time spent maintaining and protecting objects, and free to savor our lives and the people we love most.

This section also contains useful suggestions for transitioning to a minimalist mindset that creates space in your home and life, revels in beauty and design without owning, and finds contentment with just enough.


PART TWO | STREAMLINE

When I began the process of decluttering my home of 90% (give or take) of its possessions, I did so with Jay’s book in hand. This section, in particular, contains the nuts and bolts of how to effectively and permanently streamline your home. The word STREAMLINE is actually an acronym for the process you’ll use to tackle your home’s cluttered corners and overflowing closets.

Jay’s approach is reasonable and supportive; rather than create an overly complicated system for decluttering or guilt you for amassing the mess in the first place, she painlessly mentors you through the process. There are some absolute gems of wisdom in this section that will change the way you view the surfaces in your home and how you organize the belongings that remain.


PART THREE | ROOM BY ROOM

As you continue the transition from {almost} hoarder to newly minimalist, you’ll find this room by room guide to be essential. Jay offers her time-tested decluttering secrets for each room of your home. Rather than muddle through the process on your own, these room guides gently suggest the best way to create a cohesive and simple home while maintaining it in the long-term.

One of the nuggets of wisdom from the section on living rooms that really resonated with me is that, “...children in particular need space to roam, frolic, and explore; they shouldn’t be cramped in a tiny play area, barely visible among wall-to-wall furniture and mountains of clutter.” Our living rooms, and by extension our homes, should inspire creativity and be a sanctuary from the world, not another source of stress.


“...children in particular need space to roam, frolic, and explore; they shouldn’t be cramped in a tiny play area, barely visible among wall-to-wall furniture and mountains of clutter.”


Likewise, she lets us off the hook in the bedroom, encouraging us to craft our dream bedroom free of kid clutter, piles of dirty laundry, and hobbies that we never get around to doing. So often {and I am guilty of this} we let our bedrooms become the clutter catch-all and the place we shove unorganized belongings that we don’t have time to tend to. Thankfully, if you follow her steps to declutter, contain, and maintain, you’ll find that your spaces stay clean and organized.


PART FOUR | LIFESTYLE

Why would we bother getting rid of possessions and streamlining our homes? Is it even possible to do so when you have little kids underfoot, cranky teenagers, or a spouse who isn’t on board? Jay suggests we focus on decluttering our own belongings first, so that our families will be introduced to the lifestyle through our example. She then suggests strategies to include each member of the family in the process to create a home that reflects everyone. As a mother herself, Jay draws on Montessori theory to create child-led spaces within the home.

In the final chapter of the book, Jay meditates on the long-term positive benefits of minimalism to your home, the environment, and the greater world beyond. Rather than allow the media and corporations to define our identities through their advertising campaigns and catchy slogans, she encourages us to become minsumers: conscious individuals who purchase only what they need and carefully consider the impact of the items we do buy. By doing so, she believes that we will “inspire others with the beauty of our actions,” causing a ripple effect that benefits those with whom we share the earth.


SUMMARY

There is an overwhelming amount of information on minimalism on the internet and in books, and you may feel like you don’t need an entire book on the subject. As an avid minimalist myself, I tend to turn a blind eye to new decluttering guides. But if you’re going to buy one, this book is it. Rereading this book after so many years reminded me why I chose to live minimally in the first place. More importantly, it also inspired me to rethink my belongings and personal definition of “just enough” as my family transitions into our new 675 square foot house next month.

What I enjoy most about this book is that it combines the philosophy with the practical to create a method with long-lasting results. The book itself is beautifully crafted and well-made; I’m excited to add this to the small collection of prized books on my bookshelf. It is also available as an e-book if that’s more your cup of tea.

Before there was KonMari or minimalism or tiny houses gone mainstream, there was The Joy of Less, and I hope it inspires you to change your life and home as it has for me. Whether you’re brand-new to minimalist ideas or a seasoned declutterer, I truly believe you’ll find wisdom within its pages to guide you in creating a simpler, more joyful home that reflects your family's values and dreams.


GIVEAWAY!!

We’ve partnered with Francine Jay and Chronicle Books to giveaway 3 copies (THREE!!) of the book! The giveaway starts Monday, April 25th and ends Friday, April 29th at midnight CST. The giveaway is open to US residents only (so sorry Canadian and international friends!) and you must be 13 or older to enter. 


*  We received a free review copy, but the opinions are truly 100% ours.