The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living Lighter + Win a copy!

Thomas Allen & Son sent me The Big Book of Less in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Hey everybody! I hope you’re having a great week. I’ve got a crappy cold and haven’t been able to write here as much as I’d like but I’ve been dying to tell you about this book. It’s the new one (out just last week) from the editors of Flow magazine, The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living LighterIt’s a book of articles and activities about living with less (less stuff, less information, less control, and more) and learning less-ons along the way. #seewhatididthere

Big Book of Less flat cover

Here’s a little more from the back of the book:

Less stuff. Less stress. Less distraction. Less everything.

In less comes the freedom of letting go. This thoughtful and surprising book shows us how to get there, by paring down not just the jumble of things around us, but the clutter in our heads, too. Which then makes room for more—more listening, more focus, more wisdom, more time. More life. And to help, interact with special paper goodies, including a one-thought-a-day diary, a foldout tiny house to let you imaging the pleasures of living in a small, cozy space, and art posters that depict a beautiful picture of what it means to do less, not more.

BBOL_p69_Offline (credit Isabelle Schippers)
Illustration by Isabelle Schippers

There are seven chapters: Less Stuff, Less Information, Less Remembering, Less Control, Less Doing, Less Living Large and Less Judgement.

I’m glued to a screen WAY more often than I’d like to admit, so the chapter about consuming less information really spoke to me. I want to do less scrolling, more reading; less watching, more doing. Contributors say that doesn’t have to mean stepping away from the Internet altogether but a digital detox now and then or restricting our screen time to just a few blocks during the day can help us be more present, improve concentration and free up time to engage in things that truly bring us joy.

BBOL_p166_Tiny House Owners (credit Tammy Stroebel)
Photo by Tammy Stroebel

I’ve always thought we lived in a tiny house (we’ve got about 1,100 square feet for two adults, two middle-graders and a cat) but the Less Living Large chapter showed me we’ve got a lot of downsizing to do before we can say we’re living small. The tiny homes the book talks about are dwellings anywhere from 215 to 540 square feet — and a simpler, more intentional way of life that is becoming more and more popular around the world.

“If you are going to live small, it is natural for you to think about what is absolutely necessary for you to have right now and what is important to you. And that brings you closer to who you are and what you want to love. You don’t have to immediately go live smaller, but researchers have discovered a link between people with a lot of stuff in their house and the stress hormone cortisol — it turns out, the more things, the more stress. And, according to tiny-house owners, and as paradoxical as it may sound, less living space actually creates more room. Specifically: room in your mind. Without the expense of a large house, a mortgage, all of the belongings and obligations, you have more time and energy to do the things that make you happy — reading, gardening, volunteering, walking, tinkering around, or just sitting and thinking.”

— Annalot Boersma and Chris Muyres, Tiny House (The Big Book of Less)

Woman by the river
Photo by Julia Davila-Lampe/Getty Images

In the article, How Great Small Can Be, author Caroline Buijs explores the small pleasures that give our lives meaning. According to philosopher Alain de Botton, the world we live in would have us believe that happiness lies in luxury goods and lush landscapes rather than the simple, ordinary things that actually bring us the most joy. As a result, says Caroline, we must seek out and celebrate the small.

“Maybe, especially on those rainy days when we feel out of sorts, we’ve lost sight of how important we are to others. And that importance so often lies in small things: giving your full attention to your child, letting your partner sleep in while you make breakfast, doing the shopping for an elderly neighbour. These small things make us feel good about ourselves and the world — a world where big things can sometimes add up to so little.”

— Caroline Buijs, How Great Small Can Be (The Big Book of Less)

Irene and Astrid (credit Danique van Kesteren)
Astrid van der Hulst and Irene Smit

By celebrating quiet rather than noise and being rather than doing, I found the book had a soothing effect. It’s okay that it took me a couple of weeks to read it; it’s okay to rest; it’s okay to do less. (Even if we’re hardwired to think otherwise.)

Looking for more like The Big Book of Less? See Irene and Astrid’s 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful Life and A Book That Takes Its Time. (They have other books too, but those are the ones I’ve reviewed.)

The Big Book of Less feature image


Thanks to Thomas Allen & Son, I have a copy of The Big Book of Less for one of you, PLUS Flow’s new Tiny Pleasures Sticky Notes and One Day at a Time Daily List Pad. (Yay!) To enter to win, tell me some of your favourite small pleasures in the comments below. (This entry is mandatory.)

For another entry, follow try small things on Facebook, share this post (you’ll see the share buttons below) and tell me your Facebook name in the comments below. 

And feel free to tweet the following once per day and leave the url for your tweet in the comments below (one entry per tweet). Make sure you’re following try small things and Thomas Allen & Son for your entry to count.

#Win “The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living Lighter” from @trysmallthings  CAN 4/30 #thebigbookofless

The contest is open to Canadian (excluding Quebec) residents 18+ and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on April 30, 2019. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.

Update May 3, 2019: Congratulations Tracey W! 

Images excerpted from The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living Lighter by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst (Workman.) Copyright © 2019. Used with permission from the publisher.

150 thoughts on “The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living Lighter + Win a copy!

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