The authors of this book make up a pair called The Minimalists, who started a blog together and later a successful podcast about decluttering and simplifying your life. This book is partly their memoir of growing up under difficult circumstances and not having much, to leading lives of debt and unhappiness. At this point they realised that their obsession with obtaining things as a panacea to their insecurity was like a millstone around their necks. It’s also a self help book. It looks at the way that we attach ourselves to things, and by letting go of them, we can improve all aspects of our lives.
If you think that that sounds like a cluttered book, you’d be right. It’s been pointed out a few times over on Goodreads and other places that it’s a long book considering that it’s written by people who claim to be minimalist. That kind of tickled my funnybone.
I think a lot of this is down to why you buy things, which is what some of this book is about. I understand a lot of people go into debt to buy the lifestyle they think they want or deserve, and then have a lot of stress about debt and a sense of overwhelm. They fill an emptiness inside themselves with things. I know I can relate to buying a new outfit or lipstick to make myself feel better on a bad day. (Ok, and actually I do spend money regularly on books) But when the book said that people in the US have on average three credit cards, I just realised that this is something else. Personally, I love my things. I don’t buy things I won’t use or will regret later, I don’t accumulate debt, and I don’t have a big problem letting go of things when it’s time. But the level of consumerism in the US is a thing I’m slowly coming to understand. It’s a problem.
So, I think I’m not the target audience for this book. I’m not into minimalism. I love a cozy space and simple, beautiful things. I adore my collections of things. They make me smile and I enjoy taking care of them. I’m also not running into debt buying things. But I do love to have a spring clean and a declutter. And after reading this, I did actually go into my email inbox and unsubscribe from a bunch of sales emails because the book pointed out how much we are bombarded with sales stuff, and who needs it? I liked the way the authors tried to tackle the way that accumulation can impact financial issues, relationships, and other aspects of life. It was a little light, a little self help-y, but that’s ok. I think sometimes having some tips about where to start and how to look at what’s important can be really useful. As someone who doesn’t listen to their podcast though, I think I wasn’t so interested in all the memoir stuff about them. Maybe the memoir stuff and the clutter tips should have been two books? Either an About Us or a How To, rather than trying it all
One the whole though, not a bad read. If you’re into decluttering and looking to simplify, then this is a pretty good book for that. It’s not just a how to throw things out, but also trying to look at why you might be falling into the lie of accumulating things. Which I think can sometimes be left out of other books and can lead you to just going back into buying things all over again after a clean out.
Read It If: you’re a fan of The Minimalists, I think it will please them the most, but also if you’re in debt and trying to buy your way to happiness or feed your feelings with stuff, this may be a good one for you.
Thank you Celadon for the ARC of this book for review. Love People Use Things is out now.