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Book Review: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rowan chapter.

Spoilers ahead…duh <3

My rating: Five out of five stars.

Okay. I’ll admit it. I couldn’t afford Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The quarantine had just started and I wasn’t sure if I was employed anymore. But, I was so bored out of my mind. I don’t have social media. I didn’t want to watch any more documentaries. I just wanted to read a good book.

So I had to go to the Libby app and borrow a virtual book from my local library. I found The Year of Less by Cait Flanders and the first thought I had was, ‘Oh my God this is a knock off of Marie Kondo’. But, it was free. And I was desperate. By the end of the day, it was on my Kindle.

Honestly, I’m forever grateful that I downloaded this book. I was completely wrong in my first impression of the book. Although the book has the same minimalist themes as Marie Kondo the book really reflects on how capitalism and alcoholism really affected the author’s life. I found myself connecting to this young woman who reflected on her personal heartache and the unhealthy ways that she coped with them.

After a mental breakdown, Cait decided that she would go on a “no-buy year” where she would literally not buy anything but the bare necessities for a year. She was also on a journey to become sober, declutter her house, heal after a break-up and at the end of the year changed her career. Can she be anymore of a boss woman?

I think that what really attracted me to the book was the author’s vulnerability. She wasn’t afraid to say that she was a little broken for a bit. She wasn’t afraid to say that she completely drowned herself in debt. But, she took accountability and she worked her ass off to fix it. As I read about the little things (such as getting rid of things that didn’t spark joy for her) and how they affected the author I was absolutely inspired.

I went through my room and got rid of nearly 15 bags of items that I will either donate (or sadly throw away). I realized that this stuff–this meaningless clutter–wasn’t adding any value to my life. Instead, it was causing me stress. Now, I feel completely vindicated. I have 6 totes of stuff and a pile of shoes. That’s it. I love the thought that I can put everything I own in a car and just drive. I love that everything that I do own really means something to me.

I think the purpose of self-help books is to inspire people to make radical changes in their life. And honestly, this book really allowed me to question do I own my possessions or do my possessions own me? I recommend this book to anyone who really needs a change of pace.

Destiny is currently enrolled in Columbia University's MFA Writing program. She is a national writer at Her Campus and the former editor-in-chief of Her Campus Rowan. She likes thrifting, romance novels, cooking shows, and can often be found binging documentaries.