Friday, April 25, 2014

Stuffocation by James Wallman

A little while back, I was intrigued by a Nook Daily Find book: Stuffocation, by James Wallman.  Living in a small house, I frequently feel like I have too much stuff, and lately I've especially been feeling the impact of too much clutter.  So when I read the description of the book, I decided to check it out.

Sometimes nonfiction books can be tedious to read, but Stuffocation sucked me right in.  The first half of the book was especially compelling, as he talked about the personal experiences of people who have walked away completely from materialistic lives.  The way he writes about it, and the stories he tells, makes you see why someone would give up everything to live more simply, and makes it seem like a very tempting option, too.

The second half of the book is slightly less compelling.  Wallman starts talking more about measures of happiness and a nation's success, and that's a little drier material.  Also, the stories stop feeling as fresh and original after a little while, and even though he's making a different point -- that there are people who reject materialism without walking away from their entire lives, people he calls experientialists -- it starts to feel a bit repetitive.  I read the first half of the book far faster than the second half, and with much more attention paid to it, I'm afraid.

Even so, the book was hugely influential for me.  I started thinking, one night as I was reading, about getting rid of not everything, but at least the stuff I don't need -- going through everything in the house with a fine-toothed comb, and getting rid of what is just taking up space.

This evolved into a personal challenge for myself: to get rid of something every single day for a year.  After all, it's a big job to go through everything you own.  It feels like too big a job and can be very off-putting because of that.  Giving something away every day, on the other hand, encourages you to just always be mindful of what you need and what you don't, and gives you more time to make that transition to owning fewer things.

Although my life exploded only a few days after I started, making it difficult to continue, I started a blog to chronicle my efforts to cull my belongings and become less materialistic.  I'll be keeping up with it as best I can until things in my life smooth out a little, and then I'll resume the daily goal!  It should be a fun journey.

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