A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble

I made a request to the publisher via Netgalley to read this title. This review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy. And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple. Having stuff – The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness. So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young? Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?

So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness? Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy. Do we need to take a step back, reprioritise? Do we need to make our lives more simple?

Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting, engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.

Review

I requested to read this one some weeks ago at a time when I was revaluating my life. Thoughts brought on by lockdown and the horror that is 2020 really shining a light on what is important in this life. It’s not usual that I read non-fiction, and if I do it tends to err on the side of historical memoirs and the like. But there was something about this that drew me to it.

I vaguely recognised the author’s name from tv shows my husband and son enjoy watching. They are both outdoorsy country types (I enjoy the countryside we live in during fair weather or alternatively through the window) and so I absorb some things, at least by some sort of osmosis.

I didn’t get the chance to read until recently, by which time (as happens) my mood had changed somewhat and I couldn’t really remember why it was I requested it. I began to read therefore a little bit grumpily and with unfair expectations that I would be preached at.

It couldn’t be further from the truth. What I experienced was actually a really interesting book, which explores, as the title suggests, the idea of living simply. The author’s narrative is very conversational and anecdotal, and in the time of corona, where we have been unable to converse face to face in the way we normally would, I felt as if this was the closest thing to a good conversation (albeit one-sided) I’ve had in a long time. It’s a truly fascinating read, and one which really resonated with me. As a country born girl, who moved to the city, and then back to the country I always feel I have a foot in both camps. I love the rush of the city, but the pace of life can be exhausting and there is always something relaxing about open spaces and fresh air, that even my adopted city ways can’t deny.

There are so many discussion points in this book which struck a chord, one being Stuff. How much we accumulate. We’ve been renovating a house and we have rather a lot of our belongings in storage on account of our rental house being too small. I recently went to reclaim the Christmas decorations and was astounded as I looked around at a) how much we had and b) how we hadn’t needed it in the slightest in the last twelve months – begging the question, why do we have it!? This book has encouraged me to really see things I perhaps have been glazing over.

This is actually a book I would really like as a print copy, I didn’t really read in a linear fashion once I got going, I dipped in and out and really appreciated the soothing, gentle tone. It’s a relaxing read, and one that I know I will revisit. It has without doubt got me thinking about how we can live differently, more sustainably and much more simply.

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