the joy of less

I was kindly asked by Francine Jay if i would review her new book entitled The Joy of Less.  I enthusiastically agreed because I love books on decluttering, cleaning and simple living.  I think I may have read every book on the subject.  I have never reviewed a book before so this is a first for me. 

The book has a lot of the usual things you would expect from a minimalist, decluttering type book.  Things like sorting belongings into categories such as charity, keep, mend, etc.  But what I love most about the book is that she helps you in the decision making process.  That really is the hardest part of paring down ones life. I am far from a minimalist but she recognizes the need for people like me who love to include beauty in one's life.   She divides the book up into sections taking one room at a time.  The part of the book that I will tell you helped me the most was the wardrobe section.  I find this the hardest part of simplifying.  I'm one of those people who constantly clean out their closet and never feel like the job was done right.  For some reason or another parting with clothes that I paid a lot for or that have sentimental meaning is hard for me to do.  I would include jewelry in that category too.  Francine has a line in the book that literally struck me like a thunderbolt.  I put the book down and went straight to my closet and in about an hour my closet was finally done!  I could hardly believe it.  I still can't.  I went through all my clothes, shoes and jewelry.  I bet you can't wait for what that line was!  I'm going to tell you but before I do I want you all to please check this book out fully because what resonated for me may not for you and vice versa.  She is very thorough.  Okay, here's the line - "When considering an outfit, question whether you'd feel comfortable being photographed or running into an ex while wearing it.  If the answer is "no," out it goes!"  Well, I'm not photographed very often but I think we can all relate to running into someone who we wish we could make a good impression on.  Why have anything in your closet that makes you feel less than fabulous anytime.  She has tons of other great advice regarding your wardrobe that I found very valuable.  I can give you an example.  She asks you to figure out what flatters you and what doesn't.  For instance I look best in a boat-necked 3/4 sleeve t as opposed to v-neck capped sleeves.  For my body type that's what looks best.  So why do I have 10 v-necked t's and only 2 boat-necked 3/4 sleeve t's?  It's about having a closet full of clothes that flatter and make you feel good about yourself, and I love that.  If you are in the mood to simplify or pare down your life I highly recommend this book.  You can purchase it on amazon here.


  1. Thanks for the great book idea!!! I have to admit that line would do it for me too! Who wants to run into an ex looking raggedy or frumpy? No wonder I never have anything to wear with a closet full of clothes.


  2. Janet -

    Funny, I was just searching for Francine Jay's other book, "Frugillionaire" at the library the other day - with no luck. I may need to just invest in both of these books as they sound right up my alley!


  3. Thank you for introducing this marvelous book! I am interested in books like the one mentioned, having just completed a major decluttering operation. I have posted about it on my blog. I´m not in love with what I have, and don´t even find it difficult to part with something, which once meant something for me. The feeling I get, when I look at my empty space, is tremendous. I wish to get this book, as the subject is pleasing and interesting!

  4. I, too, think I might have read close to every book on the subject! But you'd never know it by looking in my closets or around my house. At some point, a person has to put the pedal to the metal, right?

    Great review. Makes me want to read it.

  5. Sounds like a good read. I could sure use decluttering around here.

  6. today was my LUCKY DAY !!! I found YOU !!!

    i love your blog...and thanks for mentioning this book to us....looks like something i would love to read....

    have a Happy last weekend of july !!!

    kary and teddy

  7. You were READY!!! Isn't it great getting rid of things?

    When I read Jung's, "Life is about getting our outside to match our inside. ", that's when I began REALLY getting rid of things.

    Alas, in the middle of garden & house projects. Can't wait till they're done & leftovers trotted to the thrift store.

    Great job with the book review.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  8. I like that line. Only I think I would have to throw everything in my closet away. Yikes, I've got a lot of work to do.

    Have a great weekend.

  9. it does feel great to get rid of things and to surround ourselves with only the things we truly love and need ... a lesson I wish I had earlier in life. I have a ways to go.. but I love coming here to get some inspiration. Thanks!

  10. Ooooh, my favorite subject!!! I'll have to check out this book. Congrats on your accomplishment! Pictures please. :)

  11. I am learning so much not only from this post but from the wonderful comments before me.
    I think I will be tossing 90% of my clothing.

    Congratulations on your accomplishment and thank you for sharing the inspiration with us.

    (in my defense, I stayed home from yard sales today)

  12. Your review makes me want to get my hands on this book and read it cover to cover!
    I decluttered my writing was a disaster.
    I feel a sense of order and calm,
    I am now onto the next mess...

  13. Janet, a fantastic review, really has me hooked, and I love the test about whether you would want an ex to see you in a certain piece of clothing, genius (oh god, the way I just wrote that sounded as if the choice was whether you wanted an ex to see you clothed or naked, what a way with words I have, have now inserted "certain piece of"); just love the idea that every outfit should make you look your best, I have terrible "best dress syndrome" where I save my nicest stuff for some unspecified event and often wear not so nice stuff, you have inspired me to up my game!
    have a nice weekend Bx

  14. I enjoyed this review Janet, with your own personal comments and experiences of the advice.

    You're right, clothing and jewellery (and accessories) is a hard declutter for the reasons you've mentioned.

    It doesn't seem to be at the library here in New Zealand, so I might have to treat myself on Amazon. It sounds like a keeper.

  15. I for one love a good declutter. Have just decluttered my whole life (except my family) to downsize us all from a large home into a small apartment... so liberating... only having what you need around you... and a few necessary items of beauty. Still... I could do more.. this book sounds fabulous. Book depository here I come! A-M xx

  16. Enjoyed reading this review.
    Love books on organizing, storage etc. I have a reputation among family and friends for being a bit of a declutter queen. My kids joke if they can't find something Mum's probably tossed it.
    Have fun with your 'new' wardrobe Janet!

  17. Janet - a great review - the title says it all - there really is JOY in LESS just from the mental energy you save. Great tips there and loved her quote. xo Terri

  18. Oh yes, I'm totally into this. I visit Goodwill twice a month with a grocery bag full of no-longer-used items. I'm excited to visit& pare down my wardrobe this weekend. Thanks for the review.

  19. Is there a chapter on the attic? Because i can barely find the space itself, much less get through it.

    This coming week is a staycation for me, maybe I should get inspired and directed.
    Wish you could come and help, I'd feed you well.
    xo jane

  20. I so want this book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  21. Dear J
    as you know I am hugely into decluttering because I think that excess stuff that is meaningless robs my home of peace. With clothes I ask Does this flatter me? Do I love it? Is it the image I want to project? Works like a dream, xx

  22. The book sounds fantastic Janet - thanks for sharing your review of it.. Think I need to apply 'the words' to my clothes ! x

  23. I am definitley getting this book. I love to read books on organization. My problem is I read them and don't apply them. This book sounds as if it would actually motivate me to do something about clutter in my closet. I sound just like you, constantly cleaning out but never feeling totally DONE!! I just spent some time reading through your blog post. LOVE!!! your blog, I am now a follower. I was doing some blog hopping, which I try to do on Saturday mornings to open my horizons as they say and came upon your blog, so glad I did, Happy weekend, Kathysue

  24. LOL! That is a fantastic line!!! I will remember that one! I am a wannabe minimalist, but I have a long way to go. I do believe that life is so much more simple and beautiful with less things (like cable TV) cluttering up our view of the beautiful things.

    Thank you so much for your warm wishes for our Jemima. She had to have emergency surgery - a herniated disc - but she is in recovery and has a 90% chance of walking again. We'll see her today and bring her home in a few days!


  25. "So why do I have 10 v-necked t's and only 2 boat-necked 3/4 sleeve t's?"
    maybe because the boat-neck left the stage of fasion 15 years ago and on came the v-neck. It is time for a boat-neck revival! since it is really flattering!

    a few weekends ago I took dozens of pictures of myself, self-timer on, and decided by looking at the pictures at my laptop what to keep and what not. Funny thing was: friends of mine who looked at the pictures agreed: some clothes looked horrible. But when they saw the dress on my in real life they thought it was ok. Because they saw me, heard me talk, saw me move ... the appearence often blinds the judgement and makes it hard to decide. I loved the gallery of self-timer pics. front/from the left/ from the right / from the back.
    The shirts I ranked 'flattering' before were WAY to short for my figure and the 'chique blouson' actually made my torso look like a square! If only had I seen myself through the eye of a lense before. Of course, it takes a very rainy sunday to do this. :) I will definitely do it again.

    Have a nice sunday!
    PS: did I get something wrong: I had the impression your cottage does not need any decluttering at all. Or is there a basement full of clutter? :-o

  26. You really did get it on it last week! :)

    This was such a well written post - just from reading this, I can see I need to be more thoughtful in all of my decluttering and simplifying. I think I'm getting rid of the wrong things that's why I never feel like I'm at that minimal stage.

    Bring the book with you when you come over for tea! :)

    Talk to you soon ~

  27. Hi Janet - This is good advice and nice book review you did too! Incidently, we are clothing opposites as I am always drawn to boat neck tops, especially the blue and white striped french style ones with 3/4 sleeves. I would always try them on in the store and maybe even buy on or two, but always ended up returing them. Now, I realize v-neck and jewel neck tops look best on my, and I've given up struggling with a look that just isn't right for me. Still wish I could wear boat necks though sometimes!

  28. Good morning my dearest Janet!!!! I believe your closet is a thing for you... when I first found your blog you were getting rid of many stuff and your bed was full of clothes!!!! Wish you could come to my home and help me with my closet... I just don´t find what I need, it`s such a mess now, and just because blogging has taken my time for almost a year, can you imagine it?
    You have done a very good review of her book!!!!... but... I just love being surrounded with lots of stuff, minimalism is not my style, eventhough I love it so much!!!
    many hugs and joy,
    maria cecilia

  29. Wow, do I ever need that book! I have such a hard time getting rid of stuff, especially clothes. I need all the inspiration I can get.

  30. I need a buddy to de-clutter. I need "permission" to toss! I need to make a corner for an e-bay sale! Thanks for the fun post!

  31. She picked the perfect person to review her book- you! Fun post, and I loved the 'test' sentence. I'm going to remember that one!
    I think de-cluttering is very healthy. That said from the child of a major pack-rat;)!

  32. Hi Janet!
    I'm going to have to head out and get this. I leave for New York in a week and have been needing a good book for the plane! I am all for the de-clutter! I actually can not sit down and work on a project until my house is clean and de-cluttered!


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