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497 of 504 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Read and Use
Wow! If you are looking for a comprehensive handbook on minimalism, decluttering, streamlining, and essentially re-wiring your preconceptions about why you have the stuff you have, this is the book for you.

Francine Jay, aka Miss Minimalist to those in her blogosphere, has written The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and...
Published on August 4, 2010 by meg

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263 of 298 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars comparing 4 books on minimalism
Feeling weighed down recently, I purchased 4 books about decluttering: Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, the joy of less, Unclutter Your Life in One Week, and The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul. Here is a comparison of them.

Less is not really about decluttering so much as Zen. The book is...
Published on April 10, 2011 by cxlxmx


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497 of 504 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Read and Use, August 4, 2010
This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
Wow! If you are looking for a comprehensive handbook on minimalism, decluttering, streamlining, and essentially re-wiring your preconceptions about why you have the stuff you have, this is the book for you.

Francine Jay, aka Miss Minimalist to those in her blogosphere, has written The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, her second book on achieving the good life by consuming less. She's a minimalist after my own heart, and unless I'm projecting too much of my own experience onto hers, appreciates the epiphany one gets by suddenly having lots of space and just a few true treasures. Francine starts right out with the mindset, the philosophy/attitude one needs to have before seriously tackling a reduction in clutter and possessions, likening this important step to changing one's eating habits as opposed to simply going on a diet. If you don't get in the mindset, you'll just backslide. I know all too well what she means by this, having done binge-purge decluttering several times over the course of my adult life until a few years ago.

This book is a well-structured, wholesale plan of attack, as opposed to loads of personal stories or autobiography. Part One tackles the the relationship we have to our stuff and why we think we have to own it. As Francine puts it: "In pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, we need to resist the temptation to recreate the outside world within our abodes." She then cites examples such as media rooms and bathroom "spas," and the dreaded home cappuccino makers. Oh yes. The section concludes with her challenge to make a list of every single thing you own-right down to every single thing in every single drawer. My brain wanted scream at the prospect of doing that-AND I've already decluttered!!! The woman isn't taking prisoners.

Part Two is entitled STREAMLINE, and each letter of that word stands for a step in the author's minimalizing process. We are to remember that "the idea is not to choose the things we'll get rid of, but to choose the things we'll keep." This perspective turns the usual decluttering process on its head, by literally getting everything out of each room and only bringing back in the most essential, and the most worthy of our precious time and space. This section is the strategy session before the big game, as it were, illustrated by some of the many quote-worthy passages:

...the things with which we choose to surround ourselves tell our story...

...take responsibility for the entire life cycle of what we buy...(from how it was made to how it will need to be disposed of)

Think of all the things we can't do when our surfaces are cluttered:we don't have room to prepare a delicious dinner, we don't have a place to sit down with our families and enjoy it, and we don't have the space to play a board game afterwards. We don't have a spot to pay our bills, do our homework, or enjoy our hobbies. In some cases, we may not even have a place to lie down at the end of the day.

Re books: Perhaps the bigger our library, the more intellectual we feel.

Re crafts (and this one made me feel the pain): ...reality check: do you enjoy doing the craft as much as collecting the materials for it? If not, perhaps you should rethink your hobby....

One of the concepts Francine writes about is the idea of Limits, and it is here that I sense the heart of her minimalist passion:

you may initially think that limits will be stifling; but you'll soon discover that they're absolutely liberating! In a culture where we're conditioned to want more, buy more, and do more, they're a wonderful breath of relief...you'll be inspired to apply them to other parts of your life...the possibilities are, well...unlimited!

Part Three is the down to brass tacks stuff, sectioned room by room, and while the methodology of uncluttering each room is pretty much the same, there's plenty of perspective on the specifics, such as, when uncluttering our wardrobes, we wonder how we acquired so many unwearable things:

...often, such excess is the result of chasing perfection....

The "chasing perfection" also applies to buying grooming and beauty products which promise perfection, and sucker us in every time. There's also lots about how to keep on top of clutter, especially the clutter created by family members who are not yet with the program. A firm but gentle persistence is urged, and with the hope that once there's not so much crap laying around, it'll be fairly easy to keep on top of things, and thus easier to get the rest of one's household to participate of their own free will. This is the other usefulness of preparing your mindset before actually tackling minimalism-it will help you resist the laggards in your own family as well as the pressures of a consumerist society.

Part Four considers life outside of your home in your schedule and in the impact on the world by your purchases/lack of purchases. Francine encourages us to apply the word "No" with courage even if we are naturally people-pleasers, in order to retain time for ourselves and for the most important things in our lives. She also, in a telling autobiographical example, encourages us to embrace the concept of "good enough:" when her young inner-perfectionist self stared in horror at carpeting her husband hadn't quite perfectly laid he said, "it's good enough." Fortunately the message got through and she's embraced it ever since, as should we.

A greater mindfulness about what we purchase and consume leads in turn to better things for the world around us, as we consider what something is made of, who has made it, how it is packaged, and how it can be recycled or disposed of when its usefulness is over. Francine adds to these benefits the beauty of sharing possessions and of setting a happy example of treading lightly on the earth as "minsumers," her own word for minimal-consumers. She concludes that sometimes minimalism can feel like swimming upstream, but the personal liberation we will feel once we step back from consumerism will be enough to sustain us and gently inspire those around us.
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136 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful book!, August 4, 2010
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This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
I've read various books and articles on how to reduce clutter but none of them have spoken to me like "The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: how to get rid of clutter and simplify your life" by Francine Jay. This book deals with every aspect of wiping out clutter and living a simpler, joyous life. Francine Jay writes about the issue both from a philosophical and practical perspective. The book is written in a way that makes it seem as though the author is talking to you, with kindness and yet with authority. This is what I needed! Jay shows you how to get started right away and then leads you through the process, step by step, room by room, giving solutions for every aspect of decluttering and simplifying your life.

The author offers solutions that are totally realistic and doable. I am amazed at the progress I have made from reading this book. My closet is now half empty and my kitchen counters are clean and free of clutter! I think that is because the book has also helped me change my way of thinking, helping me to move from a place of uncertainty to one of confidence as I go through this process. I highly recommend it!
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131 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wholeheartedly Recommend this Book!, August 11, 2010
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This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
There are lots of books out there on living the minimalist life, but this book is different. It makes you want to run to your kitchen and start throwing out all those silver party trays you've had since you got married but never use. You suddenly feel inspired to get rid of your skinny clothes because the chances of fitting into a size 4 again are pretty slim (yes, pun intended!) I for one could not wait to hit my make-up drawer. I thought I was down-sized with my eleven compacts of eye make-up, five mascaras, 6 tubes of lipstick and various odds n ends that I haven't touched in years much less put on my face. It was so liberating to throw out all those beauty supplies that I will never get around to using.

The whole premise of this book is that having less stuff is the key to happiness. I couldn't agree more. The thing I like most about this book is it doesn't just tell you to start purging your possessions willy-nilly but it poses questions to ask yourself about everything that you own. The reader decides what gives their life value not the author. She guides you through the process and you come up with the answers.

Contrary to what the status quo would have us believe, having a lot of material possessions does not make us rich. Most of us have way too much stuff but not enough time to enjoy it all. This book is about the power of minimalist living. It's about getting rid of the excess so we can make room for new experiences and the things we truly love. Her musings on how to handle gifts and sentimental items is especially valuable. She reminds us that gifts are symbols of the giver's love. It's the intention of the giver that matters not the gift. Relish the intention and if you don't need it or want it, pass that gift along to someone else who can use it.

I can't pinpoint exactly what it was about this book that inspired me to go even deeper in my simplifying journey, but it did. Maybe it's the fact that the author takes the subject seriously but not in a judgmental way. We've all read those books that make you feel like a loser because you can't just tear through your house like a Kansas tornado and rid yourself of all the excess in one quick swoop. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It is supportive and kind. Francine Jay is likable and you wish she could personally visit your home and help you go through all your junk. But since she probably can't visit each of us personally, her book is the next best thing.
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lifechanging Revelation, March 30, 2011
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After returning from a month in NYC, armed only with basic necessities, I had an awakening. The 2 sweaters, one coat, 6 T shirts, one jeans, one pants, socks & underwear was all I needed. I've been an over packer & pack rat my entire life.

Serendipitously, I saw someone reading this book at a Cafe in New York & asked them about it.

It's been a week since I've returned. I've rid myself of 600CD's, mountains of books. 85% of my clothes.

I'm not done. Not by a longshot, but feel as I'm awakening from a deep sleep. As though I've had a mental illness for years and suddenly, am receiving the correct medication for it.

I can't recommend this book enough and have already sent it to a number of people.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what the doctor ordered, April 9, 2014
The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life was just what the doctor ordered for my home! The clutter in my home was making me anxious on a daily basis, and I felt that it was impossible to escape it. This book provided the means to be brave enough to make dramatic changes in the way I live, the stuff I buy, and what ultimately had value. I am way happier than ever, and I wouldn't have been able to take that charge without it.

Another book helped me pinpoint that mental strategies that would keep me from slipping up again was Un-Clutter! 66 Routes to a Freer Life! by Dr. Andrew M. Goodman. I learned so much about myself from reading that book. How I was letting stuff stay pent up inside of me. Buying stuff and being proud of my possessions was really just a coping mechanism for seemingly unrelated stuff. I personally feel that those two books hand-in-hand were instrumental in making myself into who I am now. Free and clear! If you want to feel this way too, be sure to read them. You will love how far they will take you!
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kick in the Butt, April 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
This book is what it is. It's not fantastic literature, it's not a scientific inquiry into the psychology of possession, it's not verbatim compliance requiring instructions on how to live like a buddhist monk. Some reviewers seemed a little confused, so I thought I'd clarify. It's a series of clear and helpful guidelines, with convincing reasoning, to help people get rid of their excess STUFF.

The first part covers the "philosophy" of "minimalist living". What it did for me was indicate that simply because I love my dearly departed grandfather, and respect my still living grandmother, does not mean that I have to keep their collection of wine bottles on the off chance that, for the first time in the 10 years since I acquired them, I might ferment up a batch of home made wine. This is obvious to anybody who reads it, but the point is it was not obvious to me until I read the first section in the book. The other "kick in the butt" for me was my horrible "just in case" collections. Because a time could come when I may never be able to buy a regular sized bottle of shampoo, I had to hoard the hotel samples from business trips. Again, written down this is obvious - to everybody but me until now. I also don't have to keep thinks I bought just because I spent money on them, and don't have to keep things I was given out of respect for the givers, and don't have to keep... Really, anything. The "philosophy" section in a way gave me permission to purge, dump, donate, sell all that which does not totally delight me. Purging STUFF from my house does not mean I have less love for the giver, less money in the bank, fewer memories of my past, or fewer opportunities in the future. Thank god. It just means I'll have less STUFF.

The second part is a room by room set of guidelines using 10 "steps" (more like ideas) to eliminate clutter, hopefully permanently. She uses the acronym STREAMLINE, which is cute and apt, but I find it hard to remember them all. Though I do like the itemized and very clear guidelines, I'm finding that the inertia alone from the epiphany of the first part is keeping me going on this spring purging. While not all the suggestions will work for everybody, I find the suggestions like to ditch the highschool/college yearbooks fantastic. The problem I've had is that for all my STUFF, the only voices in my life (and head), have said "oh, you have to keep THAT, you can't get rid of THAT, of course not!". This book is a gleaming beacon of light in that dark chorus of packrats (it's easy to require hoarding when it's not your own space that's filling). Purge. Dump. Eliminate. It's ok.

The environmental section was all old news to me (live simply that others may simply live? yup), the schedule section was interesting (eliminating clutter in the To Do list is not so that one can accomplish MORE, it's to create completely free time, in which one may just BE - that's very zen, and helpful to me).

I would like to warn people - the battle to eliminate stuff is not an instant win, even with such clear directions. The weekend after purchasing and reading (cover to cover) this book, I dove in, hauling away three packed carloads of things to donation, recycle, and sell. Arrived back at the house to find very little visible change. I think once we donate the increasingly empty furniture that used to house the STUFF, it will feel a little better, but that Sunday night was rough. Perusing the philosophy section of the book helped recover the positive momentum though, and the purging continues. For us, this is not a sprint but a distance race, and this book is helping tremendously.
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263 of 298 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars comparing 4 books on minimalism, April 10, 2011
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This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
Feeling weighed down recently, I purchased 4 books about decluttering: Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, the joy of less, Unclutter Your Life in One Week, and The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul. Here is a comparison of them.

Less is not really about decluttering so much as Zen. The book is more about less busyness than less stuff. It is about mindfulness. It is about facing fears. It is business-oriented. For someone interested in cultivating a minimalist approach to living, Less does not have that much to offer.

The 100 Thing Challenge is more the sort of book I had in mind to buy. Written by a man who spent a year living with only 100 possessions, it is an anti-consumerist tract. It has some limited practical advice, but it is more about the experience of doing without things than a how-to.

The Joy of Less and Unclutter Your Life in One Week are both how-to books, but they are rather different in focus. The Joy of Less takes a single systematic approach to decluttering (represented by the acronym STREAMLINE) and shows how it might be applied to decluttering various parts of your home. Unclutter Your Life in One Week has a more shot-gun approach, suggesting a variety of different methods for organizing and reducing clutter. Both books are written by women but their focus is quite different. The Joy of Less is addressed primarily to women. Its style is like that of girlfriends dishing, and the examples it references (e.g., beauty products cluttering up the bathroom) are clearly women's concerns. On the other hand, Unclutter Your Life in One Week is addressed primarily to men. It talks about suits and business matters, and its style is bullet points and talking points. Another significant difference is that The Joy of Less is oriented toward a total lifestyle, including environmentally-friendly purchases, while Unclutter Your Life is more narrowly focused on organizing one's life. One book is written by a NYC gall and the other by a DC gall. Can you guess which is which?

Are any of the books worth buying?

What I was really looking for was a book that would delve into research a little and identify what areas of life make the most difference in minimalizing and what that difference might be. None of these books took that approach. The how-to books are based on sensible advice and suggest that you will feel better by living in a simpler, more organized space, but that is all hearsay. Maybe you are a creative person with a lot of hobbies. Will throwing things out really improve your life?

These books might be helpful to you if you aren't good at organizing your things already. At one time or another, many of the suggestions in Joy of Less or Unclutter Your Life are things I figured out on my own. I think if you have a natural propensity to live a minimalist and organized lifestyle, none of these books are going to have anything of value for you. But if your living space is overflowing with things you can't figure out how to deal with, you might learn something from either of these how-to books. If your problem is that you buy too many things, you might want to check out the 100 Thing Challenge. Other than Less, all of these books also have accompanying websites such missminimalist.com, unclutter.com, and guynameddave.com

If you are interested in the sustainability impact of minimalism, you might also be interested in No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process or Better Off : Flipping the Switch on Technology (P.S.).
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My husband will read this book if I have to read it out loud to him., August 22, 2010
This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
If I have read this book out loud to my husband over dinner for the next month, I will.

I've been a fan of Ms.Jay since I read Frugillionare. I have clipped coupons and been a bargain hunter for more years than I care to admit.

I wasn't sure if The Joy of Less would be meaningful to me since we downsized and eliminated a lot of our "excess" over six years ago. After reading this, I've realized how much "stuff" has been sneaking back into our little two bedroom townhouse. And, so much of it is my husband's stuff! Tools that moved with us and have been in the attic for six years now, cans of nuts and bolts and nails. I'm at fault too, too many bags of yarn and blocks of wood from my hobbies. But I can honestly say, after reading this, I've cleaned out my closet and out went the clothes and shoes I no longer wear, and I've tossed a bunch of kitchen items I thought I had to have and then never used.

My house still needs a lot of work, and I will never be a total minimalist, but I have more room and less clutter and I'm really happier. I think twice now about buying that extra item. Case in point, we recently remodeled our kitchen - a necessary task to keep the resale value up on our townhome. I wanted something to hold the wet sponge at the sink, and Target had several good and "cute" options at $10 - $15. What I finally did was to pull out a crystal ashtray that I inherited from my father and it works great! It was packed away in a cabinet and of no other use, except it reminds me of him and my stepmom, so now it's useful and looks great by my sink.

I'm also getting ready to put several things on ebay that no longer are needed and wanted. I've been looking up "values" and most of my treasures are not worth what I thought!

So, it I can convert my husband, this book will be worth it's weight in gold!
Wish me luck.

Thanks, Ms. Jay, for making us think before we spend and clutter our lives with unnecessary "stuff".
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Minimalism For Dummies, June 2, 2011
By 
D. Avery (Burien, WA, United States) - See all my reviews
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The first 25% of this book was an overview of the philosophy of minimalism, and it was awesome and inspiring. It got me pumped to look at my material possessions in a new way, and it gave me psychological permission to get rid of a mountain of crap that I realized I really don't want anyway. I felt like I had a new lease on life.

But after that first section, when she starts taking you on a tour of how to de-clutter room by room, to me it became an excruciatingly dull read and a little insulting to my intelligence. The level of detail she goes into is completely unnecessary for anyone who has a lick of common sense. It honestly felt as if she was 'padding' the text just to make the book longer.

There were actually some good tips interspersed in there, so some people might find it worthwhile to wade through all the fluff. But this would have been a better book if the author had exercised some minimalism in her writing, and not talked down to her readers so much. After such a great start to this book, it was a shame that by the end my opinion of it had dipped so low.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Joy of the Joy of Less!, August 28, 2010
This review is from: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Paperback)
In these times of economic uncertainty, downsizing may bring an emotional upheaval when trying to get by on fewer things. Fortunately, Francine Jay makes this journey a trip to genuinely cherish in "The Joy of Less". She presents minimalism not as something barren and empty but as freedom and space that makes our lives more enjoyable. And where can this make more of a personal impact than our homes?

This book is in four parts: Philosophy, Streamline, Room by Room and Lifestyle. In Philosophy, she introduces the concept of minimalism and asks the reader to think about our possessions and the value we attach to them: Are we defined by what we own? How much is enough to possess and actually use? And how clutter keeps us back in several ways, not just physically but at the very core of our lifestyle.

In Streamline, she lays out a methodical and clear strategy of de-cluttering our homes. In fact, `Streamline' itself is a handy ten-word mnemonic to guide the process of, well, streamlining! Separating our possessions into Trash, Treasure or Transfer helps to identify what we need to keep and what we can let go - either to the dump or to sell or donate to charity. And everything we keep must make a strong case to remain and have a place it can stay. Which is not on a surface like a table or even the floor, that must remain clear of objects lest it attracts stray items like a magnet. Her concept of storage cuts across three realms: Inner circle, outer circle and deep storage for items used often, sometimes and rarely respectively. `Room by Room' takes the streamline concept and applies it to each room in your home, taking into account the different and unique purpose of them all. She goes into detail how each space can be overhauled into peaceful, calm and de-cluttered oasises.

She closes in her `Lifestyle' section with a homily to expanding minimalism from de-cluttering to saving time from our busy schedules and even to a concept of `minsumerism', a means of reducing our consumption by the Three Rs of reduce, re-use and recycle. This is not an eco-rant on the sly but an instructive exploration of how a life of `enough' can pay dividends on the resources of the planet. She sums this up by comparing an ever-seeking, never-satisfied hunger for material acquisition as akin to a bull in a china shop, when in fact a more considerate approach is more like a butterfly, moving gracefully and lightly without leaving nary a footprint behind!

This is a great book from the writer of the `Miss Minimalist' blog (and NOT a reprint of what appears online). As we all face potentially stark choices of doing more with less in these trying times, we could all embrace `The Joy of Less'!
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