Tag Archives: consumerism

The Monday Book: THE YEAR OF LESS by Cait Flanders

Janelle Bailey brings us the Monday book this week.

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 by Cait Flanders

I had not heard anything about this book, but it was available through Libby to be my next walking “listen,” and I have come to enjoy, more so, non-fiction while walking than fiction…though I’m not certain I have quite figured out why.
So very much of this book and Flanders’ ideas resonated very strongly with me and my own experiences, and yet I think that I have even more to say about some of what she said than she did say here. I wonder whether it’s time to just write that one…myself.

Janelle Bailey’s pick this week

Oh, do I ever have in my possession numerous things–mostly clothing but some other as well…yes, books, too, but those DO give me joy–for the life I think I’m supposed to one day live. How dumb is this? I find this especially challenging to address currently, as I’m torn between–will this now be my “new” annual and seasonal “work” wardrobes and routine, still working from home (and for the past sixteen months)? Or will there be a time when I will wish to wear, again, dress pants and heavier sweaters, for instance? I have no idea. But if I addressed things either as Flanders does or as Marie Kondo does, all of it should go. I struggle with that…and it’s mostly silly, I suppose. And truly: I could/should just let go of the “skinny” clothes that don’t just fill the drawers and closet waiting for them to fit again but also fill me with some sort of tacit stress and anxiety–possibly constantly–to make them fit again. It’s so silly!
I appreciate Flanders’ approach to these various “issues” in her life and how Flanders has created as projects and blogged about them her sobriety, her paying off of significant ($30,000) debt, and now, in this book, her “shopping ban.”
There was just so much that she said that makes tremendous logical and rational sense and with which I could identify…mostly if looking from the outside “in” to my own closet and drawers, pantry, and other storage areas–a very full linen closet, for instance, that is rarely opened since it contains so many things for “when” they are needed…old sheets for costumes, for instance, that are never sought. So silly to store it all…and not use the linen closet for the “linens” used.
I was especially satisfied by Flanders’ storytelling and honesty–true sincerity–in its forthright telling and also by the data with which she began each new chapter: how many months she’d been sober, what percentage of her income she’d saved that month, and the percentage of the likelihood that she’ll complete this full year’s project, the actual shopping ban. I was with her, supportive, cheering her on from here…well, from my walking path…all the while that I “read” (listened).
And I will take her lessons learned into my near future. I will consider documenting it myself, as our circumstances are somewhat different: I’m in my early 50s, she then in her mid-30s;  she was single and childless, and I am married for the second time and have five children, three stepchildren, and two grandchildren; I have a houseful–ney, a house- and outbuildingful–of stuff that is not all even my own, though I suppose that all of the “baggage” is. Sigh. Sigh.
I will be thinking of this book and Cait Flanders’ success for some time to come for sure.


Filed under book reviews, Life reflections, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table

A Different Kind of Porn – Nope.

doily-coatJack and I did some shelf rearranging this week, to aid me in my final week of book edits avoidance therapy. The adjustments meant losing about half a bookshelf’s worth of space, so I started looking at our diet and exercise, aging, and women’s health books.

And got really, really angry. So many books about how women can keep themselves from looking older – not being older, not keeping themselves well, just not LOOKING older. So many books on what to wear after fifty. So many books on how to be skinny – not healthy, skinny.

When Jack and I opened our bookstore, we got some books in from Playboy. We discussed whether to sell “porn,” and decided we’d go with a simple definition: if we felt like the books would harm our friends Teri and Gary’s three daughters (at the time ages 4-12, more or less) we wouldn’t sell them. (Teri is the one who traded us photocopies for free books when we first opened, for those who have read Little Bookstore.) That made it fairly easy to know what we felt comfortable selling.

So I applied the same rule to these “women’s health” books, and threw away 200 of them. Because if the girls had lived by their rules, they would have been beat down, joyless consumerists. Peh.

Here are the rules, Mollie, Maeve, and Millie: wear what makes you feel comfortable, sexy, happy, or powerful–whatever your moment or mood calls for. Put on make-up or don’t – and if you want to make your own we kept a few books on natural cosmetics and color choices for hair and skin tones. Be healthy, be that plump, skinny, middle of the road, or whatever else you and your doctor agree is working for you. Look after yourself mentally – don’t read books that try to tell you  how many of anything you should own. Don’t fall for the sale of fear.

And, as one of my favorite snark signs says, “Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. That’s expensive. Drag them down to your level. It will make them happier, too.”

Enjoy life, girls. We are enjoying the extra space in our bookstore – gained a whole shelf of space by tossing the porn.



Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch