234 of 263 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
You must read this book! Here's what it's about: Jen (the author) did an experiment in which each month for 7 months, she and sometimes her entire family fasted in an area she felt they were excessive in: media, stress, possessions, shopping, food, clothes, and waste. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that sounds all preachy and super-spiritual and hard and you don't want to read it. Thankfully, it's the complete opposite. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious, totally real-life, 100% empowering, and 0% guilt-inducing.
You must go immediately to purchase this book and devour it whole. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do not stop to brush your teeth or feed your children. While you're out, buy Depends to wear because you will pee yourself while reading from laughing so hard.
Some other suggestions of how to read this book:
Keep a notepad handy while you're reading to write down notes and thoughts because ideas and action points will come to you like nobody's business.
Do not read this book right before you go to bed because you will not be able to sleep due to the millions of thoughts running around in your brain.
Read this book with your girlfriends.
559 of 663 people found the following review helpful
This book has been going around book clubs and blog circles for a while now with nearly unanimous positive reviews, yet I was very disappointed by what I found when I picked it up myself.
Mrs. Hatmaker and her friends are clearly passionate, well-intentioned people. Their church focuses on helping the homeless and disenfranchised, many of them are adopting African orphans, and her intentions in the starting this experiment were good.
But honestly I came away from the book mystified, disappointed and having failed to connect. Most of the drama that drove the book was the sole by-product of the author's refusal to plan anything (ever) and compulsive spending habits. She's sadly blasé about the simple things she doesn't know and doesn't consider important to learn (case in point, whether watermelons grow on bushes, vines or stems). It's also hard to be empathetic when so much of what she does either contradicts previous chapters or makes you question other content (if they were so desperately poor early in their marriage, why does she have so few skills in area like reducing waste, careful shopping, and basic mending of clothing in house?). It somewhat strained believability that someone who writes and researches for a living and lives in a notoriously "earthy crunchy" city was only just learning about (and terribly shocked by) the mess of industrialized food, incessant media onslaught, and the perils of vast over-consumption.
Perhaps most frustrating was the reality that she didn't actually learn any new skills or make permanent lifestyle changes. She fasted from things for a set period of time, setting arbitrary rules that fit nicely with the theme of "7" but weren't necessarily related to best practices, long-term growth or sometimes even basic logic. She flexed the rules to best suit her situation, and when the book was written went back to how things were with a slightly fresher perspective and a bonus perk here or there (cleaner house, a garden completely maintained by someone else, a few pounds lost).
If this book prompts you to make changes in your own life or become more aware of your own bad habits, then more power to you. If you're looking to really dig deep and make powerful changes in your life, I recommend looking elsewhere.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2014
I was so intrigued by this book when I found it. Jen is funny and real, and I hoped her experiences would help me have courage to begin massively simplifying...but I only got through the first section before putting it down and hoping the money I spent on it went to a good cause. Here's why (spoiler alert). On Day 6, the author describes her children throwing out most of their meal because there was no ketchup. I've been there, weeping for my children's detachment from the suffering and hunger in the "rest of the world," their flippant wastefulness. I, too, have an overstocked pantry with nothing to eat. But then on Day 17, she describes being at a restaurant and sending back a plate of spinach because it was tossed in vinaigrette. All I could think of was the subject's mother in C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters" eschewing a tea her host had thoughtfully prepared for the driest toast. Did she not note the hypocrisy? Two meals ruined, and for what? A condiment?? She should know the dressed salad wound up exactly where her children placed their dry fish. There was no weeping over this waste. I read to the end of the section to see if she recognized the near idolatry of fastidiously adhering to her chosen seven food items, especially in situations where she had little control, but to no avail. I was generous to give three stars, optimistically hoping the remaining book had merit, and in my belief the author's intentions were good.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2014
This book was an easy read and I felt the author was sincere for the most part, but she lives such a different life from me that I couldn't completely relate to her. She is very fortunate to be born with many advantages in life...she is healthy (she ran a half marathon), wealthy, extroverted, beautiful, has healthy children, many friends and seemingly limitless energy. I seriously don't understand how she does all that she does unless she has some help she doesn't mention (cleaning lady? ghost writer?). I planted a garden for the first time this year and I invested a lot of time solving problems and staking plants and fertilizing and watering and only had mild success. My tomatoes were successful, but I had to invest a lot of time in preserving my crop - making sauce to freeze and using my dehydrator. Did she actually invest any time in her garden herself - it seemed so effortless for her to grow so many crops when that was not my experience at all.
I looked up the websites in the back of her book in an effort to support some of those causes, but that was a bust for me. Two of websites don't exist anymore, (one she listed twice - cometogethertrading.com), some didn't have anything for sale and the one site that I finally ordered from (http://thehungersite.org) just notified me that they were out of the product I ordered and they issued me a refund. It's a nice idea to support these websites, but it didn't work out for me in practice.
I'm a little surprised that Jen didn't have problems with withdrawal related to giving up processed sugar, caffeine, etc. I've experienced withdrawal when I have given up certain foods (I've had to go on elimination diets to test for food sensitivities). She's pretty lucky if she felt good during her food fast.
I'm sure she's a very nice lady and she is doing good things in her community and raising a nice family. I did clean out my closet after reading the book and will work on removing more clutter from my life. May God continue to bless her.
72 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2013
I was excited to read this book after a friend told me about it. Simplifying has been a goal of mine for some time, and I was hoping this book would bring some inspiration. It did not do that at all. The writing style was casual, which is fine, but it lacked real insight. There were a lot of vignettes that didn't lead anywhere. The author missed an opportunity to gain and share real insight with a great idea. The way she wrote of her children in Ethopia was off-putting as well. The whole book came off as shallow. I was really disappointed.
216 of 282 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2012
This book came so highly recommended I couldn't wait to receive it and start reading. But, as I started reading I couldn't shake the feeling that it was ALL about the author. Her writing style was funny, in fact, she reminds me of the Pioneer Woman in style, but the whole thing seemed so, so, pointless...and that is sad. Because, so many of us are hungry for less stuff, more simplicity, and true joy. This book left me feeling like her experiment was some sort of joke. I mean, I know she cares about the plight of the less fortunate and that is good. But, this felt more like a romp with a gal and her girlfriends to see how it would be to go slumming with the rest of the poor folk...I don't know. I guess maybe its just me. But, I didn't get a good vibe from this "experiment" at all.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2014
Self-agrandizing. Jen thinks she's broken ground because she's recycling and giving away items her family doesn't use. Many of us have done this for years out of conscience. Why is she just now getting a conscience if she's been living a Christian life since birth? I believe in Christ but have never belonged to a church because of showy, fake people like Jen who are not naturally predisposed to look outside of themselves. I also was turned off by snarky remarks like making fun of a friend behind his back for saying he liked food from Chili's. WWJD? Now she has a reality show because she "needed" a 6 bedroom house. Disgusting. Hypocritical.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2014
So much good material but I struggle with the irreverence. It's difficult for me to read or hear Jesus Christ referred to as JC and I have a tough time when I read things like "seriously, God?" The substance of the book, for me, was right on target. I would have preferred a less casual approach to our Holy God. Fortunately, there is so much good information that I am determined to go through this, but, for me, I would enjoy a more respectful approach.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2014
I expected a book that discussed minimalism as a way to connect with God. However, what I got was a lot of humble-bragging and complaining.
The author did 7 "fasts" from things like waste, electronics, clothes, food, etc. I did not see the purpose of the fasts other than that she could write a book about them. For instance, she chose to eat 7 foods for one month. I do not see how this was supposed to help her connect with God or lead a simpler life. She spent the whole chapter complaining about the food and hardly mentions God.
Moreover, she would spend a month de-cluttering her home and wearing only a few pieces of clothing. The next month she would talk about what she bought when she went shopping. She also took a month off from eating out, but spent the whole chapter talking about how she couldn't wait to eat out 4-5 times a week again.
The author also spends a majority of the book talking about all of the extreme Christian things she does like feeding the poor and adopting orphans. It felt like she was wanting to sound humble, but was really just bragging (i.e. humble-bragging). Plus she seems to think that those things matter more than the day to day small things. I think that attitude affected her ability to use her fasts to truly connect with God and alter her life. She fails to recognize that some Christians make a big difference through small actions. Although it is great that she helps in big ways on occasion, it is also ok to help in small ways all the time.
Finally, the author spend a very large chunk of the book talking about her thoughts on what it means to be "green". She clearly has no idea what she is talking about (e.g. when she suggests not buying GMO meat. She clearly is unaware that there is no such thing as GMO meat). Plus she contradicts her own comments with her actions all of the time.
As someone who lives a simple life (eating out sparingly, limited shopping, homemade cooking, frugal habits, minimalism), I found this book to be lacking. The author clearly did not learn from her fasts (other than how to complain), and I did not see how her fasts helped her to connect with God.
103 of 135 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2012
I can appreciate Jen's motives toward rebelling against excess. I, too, have struggled with how much is too much and wanting to simplify. I also did like Jen's humor, for the most part. Though some of it was a bit too much for my personal taste. I've never been a fan of people saying they'd "murder" for something like a food item. That's just not my thing.
I read all of the chapter on food, and didn't care to read much after that. I'm all for feeding my family healthy and wholesome food, with little waste. But I've grown so weary of advocates pounding facts about how holy organic food is vs. how processed food is evil. It often sounds alarmist in nature, which is certainly not a Biblical concept. But where she really lost me, was after her comments about how food waste brings her to tears, she later tells a story about a salad. She ordered plain, dry spinach, but it was served tossed in dressing. So, she sent it back. They didn't rinse the dressing off, they threw it away and made another. How in the world does that not contradict her entire movement?
I expected more of a, "here are some tips to simplify your life." But it's really just an author's journal tracking her progress. At the end of the food challenge month, her conclusions weren't as grand as I expected, and I was left asking what the point even was. I didn't realize this was a fast, where things were only temporarily given up. I was looking for a book about an entire lifestyle change, a more permanent one lasting longer than 30 days.