Book Note: The Year of Less
One day, Cait Flanders announces she's not going to shop for a year. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store is a month-by-month memoir those twelve months and all that Flanders learns as she breaks free of the consumerism cycle.
I've followed Flanders' blog on and off for a number of years. I knew of her shopping ban, read about it while it was happening. But I'm glad I purchased The Year of Less and discovered an even deeper, richer, story.
The Year of Less is a month-by-month record of Flanders' shopping ban. During the twelve months, she vows to by only consumable products, like groceries and toiletries. She forgoes buying books, clothes, makeup (unless she runs out), and her beloved coffee shop coffee.
Along the way she purged 70% of her belongings, learn to sew, watched her parents' marriage come to an end, and lived with her own heartbreak. Her journey shows the cycles of addiction in her life - food, alcohol, shopping - and what these have cost her.
Flanders style of writing is friendly and approachable. That is true on her blog, as well as in this book. Each month, she offers insights and lessons from her personal reflection. She doesn't say away from sharing the darker sides of herself, her addictions and her overwhelming grief.
The book flows from one month to the next, with each chapter starting with a breakdown of percent of income earned, percent of items purged, and Flanders' level of confidence that she can complete the shopping ban.
The Year of Less is a quick read that can provide some inspiration if you're looking to complete your own shopping ban, or to simply examine your relationship to consumerism.
"... nobody knows you have your own confusion and pain. Nobody knows you're hurting at all."
"Because I was only allowed to buy one new sweatshirt, as an example, it had to be the best. Not the best brand or the most expensive or the highest quality. It had to be the best for me.
"I wanted to feel good - in the clothes I was wearing, and in my decisions to spend money on them."
"The truth, I was learning, was that we couldn't actually discover what we needed until we lived without it."