This might not be a well known about me, but I’m a big fan of Cait Flanders. Like, major. (But, to be honest, who isn’t?) So, when Cait mailed me a copy of her book, The Year of Less, I pretty much freaked out. Major fangirl moment.
I should point out before I get too far into this that this isn’t a ‘critical’ review of the book. The Year of Less is a memoir first and foremost (Cait’s words, not mine), and I just don’t see how you can critique someone’s actual, real, lived experience. So, that’s not what this is. This post is more about my thoughts about the book in relation to the wider consumerist world we live in. How fun!
I’ve been reading Cait’s blog for years. So, I knew the book was going to be good. But, I wasn’t prepared for just how good it is. Not in a flashy – “look at me, I transformed my life overnight” way. That’s not Cait’s story. Her story is one of fits and starts. It’s one of honesty and realness and failure and sadness. And, in the end, it’s one of happiness.
I finished The Year of Less in two weeks (I was really savouring the experience), and it’s taken me almost a month to solidify my thoughts on it. When I was reading it, I couldn’t help but feel like Cait’s story has a little bit of all of us in it. That’s not to say that her story isn’t unique – because it is. So many people lead lives identical to hers and never get off the wheel of binge consumption – but Cait did.
So, for that, her story is also one of victory.
What I mean is, Cait’s story, The Year of Less, is so normal. It’s normal in our society to shop your way into debt. It’s become normal to be discontented with your life and to try to fix it through external devices. That’s something that I think everyone can relate to in their own way.
So, on the opposite side of the spectrum, what Cait has done by doing a shopping ban really is counter-cultural. That in and of itself is shocking to me.
When the book was first released, I remember seeing a spread in a magazine about Cait and the ban. It proclaimed “Author didn’t buy anything for one year!” (or something exclamatory like that). My reaction when I saw it was – why is that so revolutionary? How trapped and stuck in our patterns of consumption are we that we when we about someone taking a stand against it, it quite literally blows our minds?
The answer is, obviously, a lot. I’m also real-life proof of that. I was so shocked when I read about Cait doing her ban when she announced it back on her blog. It was the most outrageous thing I had ever heard. My old compulsive shopping self couldn’t even fathom what that would look like.
I guess that’s what I love about The Year of Less most of all. Cait has contributed hugely to bringing shopping bans and non-consumption into the mainstream. She’s made them a viable, doable option for people who want to simplify their lives and take back control of their finances. Sometimes, you can’t see a way out of your own life or situation until you see someone else who has tread that path before you. That is certainly true of my life. I needed examples of people, like Cait, to show me that there were other options out there for how I could live my life. I didn’t have to stay on the consumption treadmill any longer.
I’ve read a lot of books about minimalism. If a blogger has written one, I’ve probably read it. But, I’ve never read one that is quite as real and relatable as Cait’s. At least, not to my life personally. And, that’s why I’m so grateful she’s sharing this part of her life with all of us.
The only thing I wanted out of the book that I didn’t get? More book! I guess Cait will just have to write a sequel.
Have you read The Year of Less? If not, here’s your chance to win a copy! I pre-ordered the book and then Cait sent me an advanced copy because she’s amazing. Since I don’t need two copies (I am a minimalist, after all), I’m going to give away my pre-ordered copy to someone who wants it over on my Instagram tonight (February 20th). You don’t have to follow me to enter, that’s just where I’m going to be announcing the giveaway.
What’s one thing you’d like to be more mindful about in 2018? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you missed last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about Minimalist Relationships, you can listen to it here.
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions