Get posts right in your inbox!

The Book You Need to Read – The Year of Less Review + Giveaway

February 20, 2018
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders - Review & Giveaway | Tiny Ambitions

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.

The Year of Less Review & Giveaway {Pin} | Tiny Ambitions

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

  • Lisa February 23, 2018 at 1:43 am

    It sounds like a fantastic book Britt! I’m very keen to read it. I’ve checked and my library doesn’t have it…yet! I’ll have to suggest that they purchase it. 🙂

    • Britt February 23, 2018 at 8:14 am

      You definitely should! I recommended my library buy it- even though I already had two copies. Have to support Canadian authors!

  • Erin | Reaching for FI February 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    It’s such a good book, and now that’s it’s been a few weeks, I think it might be about time for a reread! Co-signed on this review as I said I would 😉

    • Britt February 22, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      I never re-read books, but I might have to with Cait’s! P.S. love the co-sign. Reaching for FI approved!

  • Mary in Texas February 21, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I got the book as an E-book since I’m trying to keep my bookshelves from overflowing. I loved reading it. I’m starting out in a small bite–no spending except food and one thing that my husband needs during the six weeks of Lent.

    • Britt February 21, 2018 at 8:22 am

      That’s awesome! Good luck with your mini shopping ban.

  • Jennifer Hrabarchuk February 20, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    I’d like to be more mindful of reusing. Instead of putting stained or holey clothing into the thrift store bag I would like to repurpose them by sewing,mending or something! Anything but putting them into the bag.

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      That’s a really good one, Jennifer! I’m also trying to work on reusing household items instead of donating them.

  • anna February 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    I would like to be mindful of my shopping and spending habits. I think this will help on my journey to a simpler life.

  • Valerie Lovato February 20, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I’m trying to be more mindful about the things I eat and the things that I purchase. I am also trying to be more mindful about staying in the present and appreciating each day with my family and friends.

  • Jill Foley February 20, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    I’d love to read the book – I’d like to be more mindful about how I spend my time. I’m a violinist yet don’t practice as much as I’d like because I spend my time doing other stuff.

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 8:05 pm

      I’ve found minimalism is really helpful that way. Once you pare back you start to notice how you’re spending your time and can adjust if you’re not spending your time the way you’d like to.

  • Amanda February 20, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Cait was one of the very first bloggers I read, and helped me immensely a few years back. I’m so excited that she wrote a book and that she’s doing so well for herself.
    I need to be more mindful about a lot of things, but my priority is to stand up for myself more. Be aware of when I’m not. Be aware of when people are taking advantage of me (or trying to). Not being afraid to put myself first. I’ve been far too passive and have to change that.

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      This really resonates with me, Amanda. I’ll be your cheerleader on this for sure!

  • Kiki February 20, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I’m hoping to be mindful of my thinking patterns when shopping. Usually I aimlessly purchase but have noticed that if I really pay attention to myself the purchase won’t happen more often than not!

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      That’s a great one, Kiki! I need to work on my thinking patterns when shopping too.

  • Secret Agent Woman February 20, 2018 at 9:22 am

    I don’t do twitter, but I have read articles by Cait Flanders. Very interesting journey and it did shape my thinking about my no-shopping pledge this year. I’m hoping my library will get the book soon!

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      Have you requested it from your library? I did and they bought it a week later!

  • Penny George February 20, 2018 at 8:27 am

    l want to be mindful of the example of minimalism lm setting for my family… make it positive so hopefully they will want to do it too.

  • Geneviève February 20, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I’m moving from an appartment to a house I bought, this summer. This is a huge change in my life, and though the house wont be empty, there is still rooms that don’t have a purpose yet. Everybody keeps telling my that I’ll do like everybody else and fill the space, and I take that as a challange to not do so. I really want to live in the space I have and see what I really need (or don’t need) and buy accordingly, not just to fill an empty space. I want to be mindful about what gets in the house, but also how I use all this space, what I really want to make out of it.

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 8:24 am

      Congrats on the new house! When we moved into our bigger apartment in September, we resisted every urge to buy more furniture to fill up the space. So, it’s totally doable!

  • Joanna February 20, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Love Cait too! I want to be mindful about what I consume… food , internet, tv.
    Hope I win!!

  • My Sons Father February 20, 2018 at 7:42 am

    I’ve been hearing about Cait’s book for a long time, it sounds like it lives up to the hype. Making Minimalism relatable and accessible is such an important tool to help others see the benefits. I’m glad Cait was able to achieve that.

    Great post today!

  • Andrea February 20, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Single-tasking. And really paying attention to what I’m doing in that moment. I’d say just slowing down, in general!

    • Britt February 20, 2018 at 7:39 am

      Single tasking is a really good one!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.