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Book giveaway: Stuffocation - Live More With Less

(31 Posts)
UrsulaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Feb-16 12:47:49

As part of our ongoing campaign with Penguin Life to bring you books to inspire healthy living, this month we bring you Stuffocation, James Wallman's guide for how to avoid 'stuffocation' and learn to live life to its fullest with fewer possessions.

Penguin Life have asked us to find 50 Mumsnetters to read Stuffocation and tell us what they think about it on this discussion thread. Go to the giveaway page to read James Wallman's tips for living a clutter-free life, find out more about the book, and apply for a free copy.

Don't worry if you haven't finished reading. Feel free to drop in at whatever point you've got up to and give your fellow readers your first impressions about the story, characters, writing style etc.

Look out for the Q&A we'll be running with James Wallman in late March when you'll be able to ask James all your questions about spring cleaning.

This giveaway is sponsored by Penguin Life

MummyBtothree Mon 08-Feb-16 14:06:20

Wow, would love to read this. Sounds fantastic smile

FreakinScaryCaaw Wed 10-Feb-16 12:34:49

It's a genius title!

I'd love to read it too. Am in the process of decluttering my life, need all the help I can get.

cherrytree63 Thu 11-Feb-16 16:14:22

I'm keen to read this as I'm going to be relocating to the other end of the country soon. I'm struggling to declutter and minimalize but really need to keep moving costs down!

CremeEggThief Mon 29-Feb-16 11:42:14

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this. It came a few days ago. I have just read the first two chapters so far, but find myself nodding along to and agreeing with most of what I am reading. I am interested in minimalism, very,very tidy and always trying to get rid of stuff and any stuff I buy is usually replacement for essentials, but I hope this book will give me some idea how to let go of stuff I don't need but am still attached to, which is mostly related to my own and my DS's childhood.

Bobthatsafunnynameforagirl Tue 01-Mar-16 15:32:46

Have just finished the copy I was lucky enough to receive (thanks Mumsnet and Penguin Random House!) . I have read it really quickly and mostly found it enjoyable. I think the ideas are good though it took a while to get used to the way the author tells you all about something and then only after you have bought into it does he say, 'But actually, that's not really a tenable way to live...' I already follow the Minimalists so was on familiar territory to start with. I did find the author very good at explaining why certain ideas won't have much traction and was interested by the forecasting explanations. As someone who has cut back expenditure drastically lately, out of necessity as well as awareness that things don't confer happiness, I must confess to feeling slightly disappointed that one of his big recommendations is to spend as much as ever, just on experience rather than stuff. I do understand his point that the economy still needs people spending, but since we only go to the cinema about once a year as it's expensive, his lavish praise for Secret Cineam and its £50 tag made me feel I was reading a book aimed at a wealthier reader than me. I suspect that this wasn't intended. However, I think it's a function of starting with all those tales of cutting back and paring down, only to move to recommending expensive experiences. He does talk about not having to go to Bali but having less costly experiences, but it felt like an afterthought. All these caveats notwithstanding, I am freshly reenergised to continue with my decluttering, and reduce my stress! Now to get the husband on board... Somehow I don't think that hiding the stuff he hangs on to then getting rid of it if he doesn't miss it is a game he would agree to!

MummyBtothree Tue 01-Mar-16 16:47:52

Thanks for my copy of this smile I'm currently halfway through and can really relate to this way of thinking. Can't wait to read some more!

sheiladore1 Tue 01-Mar-16 17:37:44

I was so pleased to receive my copy,thankyou
i do beleive in decluttering but trying to get my hubby to do so welll is another thing so hes going to read it whilst were on holiday at the end of the month

Pickofthepops Thu 03-Mar-16 06:30:45

Thank you for choosing me. I have read the books. It has some good ideas and the experiences over physical possessions is something we've been trying to move to. I felt the book was written in a slightly dry way - almost text book like. It could have been a bit more lighthearted. Agree with the experiences suggested being on the high end side
- probably more than most people, especially with families, have available

The message is clear, but the process could be a little clearer - for people who find decluttering a mental challenge the book may be missing tips on how to get beyond that.

I really liked the checklists though, to find out what sort of attitude you have to possessions.

Thanks again - a useful book on the whole.

Fifescotland Sun 06-Mar-16 07:57:40

I was very happy to receive my copy of Stuffocation. The title appealed to me as I have recently started to practice Mindfulness & this has made me question many areas of my life, including consumption.
I have so far read 4 chapters & have found them fascinating. I think that I had expected a book about simple decluttering & it is much, much more than that. The explanation of the emergence of the advertising industry as we know it is extremely interesting.
I am looking forward to completing the book.

CheeseEMouse Sun 06-Mar-16 13:52:56

Thank you for my copy. I think I had expected this to be a bit like Marie Kondo and a guide about how to declutter. Instead it's written like a series of case studies and through different scientific and evidence based views to build an argument. I found the many and various references to "stuffocation" a bit laboured, but there are some good ideas and persuasive points made. It's a similar sort of style of writing to freakonomics and an interesting read.

Hygge Sun 06-Mar-16 14:15:30

Thank you for my copy of the book.

I'm not very far in yet, but I did the quiz and am definitely suffering from stuffocation. Which I knew already because our house is far too full of stuff.

Our big problem is that nothing seems to have been put away in the right places, meaning the stuff that should be there is somewhere else, displacing something else which in turn is displacing something else.

For example DH left his tool box and car trolley thing in the cupboard under the stairs, so I can't put the hoover away any more, so that's in the dining room blocking a cupboard door but it can't go in the cupboard because the Christmas decorations are in there instead of in the loft, because to get the loft ladder down we need to move DS's bed, which is difficult because DH stored a load of toy boxes under it because he'd put other stuff on the shelves they are supposed to go on.

We're in kind of a vicious circle of too much stuff, each being put in the wrong place because something else has been put where it ought to go because we've got too much stuff and not enough places to put it.

I was a bit skeptical that adding an extra book to the couple of thousand we already have was going to help, but it has given us a bit of a push to do something.

I have just found three books I'm happy to give away, so I'm taking that as a start. grin

DH has just dismantled the massive trampoline which was too big for our garden, and is giving it away as we speak to someone on a Buy, Sell and Swap Facebook page.

And a whole load of garden mess and shed rubbish has gone to the tip. Which now means we can put the stuff from the cupboard under the stairs back in the shed, the hoover can go home again, the cupboard is unblocked, and maybe the Christmas decorations will make it to the loft.

Progress! grin

alexiscasey123 Sun 06-Mar-16 17:29:09

I'm half way through this book so far and love the ideas in it, definitely a convert but I have a feeling that DH, DS & DO may need a bit more convincing! We already do lots of experiences rather than buy stuff, but I don't know how to get rid of the things we have already, hope i'll have some answers by the end of the book!

aspella Mon 07-Mar-16 12:47:12

Thanks for my copy of the book. I've not finished the book yet but I'm more than halfway through. At times this book was hard going and boring as it felt like reading an essay with all the quotes. I also found it irritating the way he introduced us to various people, especially his detailed descriptions of their appearance and stating they look like celebrities. I just couldn't relate to the different case studies and was disappointed that the majority of them used Americans and highearners. It felt like I was being advertised to with the constant name dropping of brands, celebrities and TV programmes left, right and centre. Having said all this the book was thought provoking and led to many discussions with others, however I don't think it'll result in any lifestyle changes being made and it hasn't helped me get rid of stuff.

WheresTheCoffee Mon 07-Mar-16 20:51:46

Thank you for my copy, I'm still working my way through but I'm enjoying the read so far!

LostInTheTriangle Mon 07-Mar-16 21:04:32

Thank you for my copy of the book. I am half way through and finding it an accessible and enjoyable read.

I'm a psychology teacher and think Wallman's style would appeal to those who are interested in 'popular' psychology. He does reference academic research, but using case studies avoids it sounding like a text book and brings his narrative to life.

Personally, I was interested to read the book because I have moved countries several times in my 20s and 30s, so have accumulated a lot of stuff connected with my travels. I was also looking for strategies to 'let go'. Haven't got to these yet, maybe they're on their way?

Nothing has jumped off the page as being particularly illuminating yet. It goes without saying that we over consume, but I am also seeing this shift to experiences as dependent on time and money. With a toddler and teacher salary/workload, I don't have ££ or time, so hopefully the book will have some more relevant chapters for me later on.

shianthomson Tue 08-Mar-16 14:26:34

Loving this book so far. Not all the ideas are tenable in a household with little people, but it provides great tips on starting the process. I hope that by sticking with it we can come to appreciate the minimum clutter in years to come.

LollieB Tue 08-Mar-16 15:53:48

Thank you for my copy of this book. I had heard a lot about this book before being sent a copy from Mumsnet and I had initially thought that it was going to be one of your bog standard decluttering books, providing hints and tips on how to organise your sock drawer. In actual fact, this book goes much deeper than this. It is more of an examination of all of the aspects leading to the development of our culture of copious consumption and the effects on our society and I found it so interesting that it was hard to put down. Like one of the other reviewers on here, I thought that each case study of converted minimalists was going to be the answer to stuffocation and I was also a bit disappointed that some of the scenarios didn't quite work out. That said, there are elements of minimalism which can be drawn from each of the examples in the book and applied to our own lives. As someone who is trying to lead a more minimal life, I don't yet see the predicted shift towards this way of life among my social fact I am so fed up of the 'my conservatory is bigger than your conservatory' dinner conversations! I do have some people in my group who are moving towards spending all of their money on experiences, but it is more for the sake of being able to brag to others about how many Michelin starred restaurants they have eaten in, so I guess that isn't exactly what this book is condoning (the need for social status aside). All in all, I thought this was a rather uplifting book and I hope that some of the predictions in it materialise (pardon the pun) and can still sustain our economy. I think the world would be a much better place if they did.

LollieB Tue 08-Mar-16 16:03:01

As an afterthought, I also thought a lot about the effect of stuffocation on my child. I grew up spending most of my time on the beach and running around in corn fields and I was just recently saying to my husband that I dislike the fact that our house is full to the brim of plastic toys and the flow cannot seem to be stemmed. I think it is hard to move away from buying material goods for kids, but maybe more experience promoting gifts like insect hotels or craft kits + less of the plastic toys which harm our environment would be better. Less stuff but letter quality and made of natural materials.

herecomesmytrain Fri 11-Mar-16 10:43:14

I've just started reading the copy of Stuffocation (an excellent title) which I was lucky enough to receive (many thanks to Mumsnet and Penguin!)

I've recently moved house and am still sitting surrounded by boxes which need to be unpacked, so the idea of living with less really appeals. I've been dipping into to it when I have time, rather than reading it straight through, and find many of the ideas and stories thought provoking. I'm looking forward to reading more.

nadiou Tue 15-Mar-16 11:50:24

thanks mumsnet, random house and penguin for sending me this book. it came at a critical time in my life and could not have been more useful, enlightening and entertaining. not only does it give you help in seeing if you have a problem, which to be honest anyone buying this book would probably have an innate interest in, but it really gets you thinking about bigger things in life. a small step, but after reading this i finally gave away 8 black bin bags of children's clothes that i'd been hoarding, intending to sell on ebay one day. the strange thing is i just woke up and did it. shocking to see how many outgrown clothes still had price tags on. but i did it systematically and most significantly pain free, i didn't stop until everything was folded away, and felt not a moment of doubt in giving it away. so stuffocation will cure you of overconsumption, by osmosis seemingly!

Mamaka Wed 16-Mar-16 13:32:22

Halfway through the book and enjoying it so far. The history of advertising was really interesting.

harrysgirl71 Wed 16-Mar-16 21:08:20

I was fortunate to win a copy of this book. Really enjoyed the first couple of chapters and having done the quiz, find I definitely have too much stuff!! Surprise, surprise. Like this book, although there is a lot of information in it, not quite finished it yet, but would recommend it if you find you are buying more stuff and your house needs a declutter.

Xylophonejo Fri 18-Mar-16 14:52:23

I loved the chatty, anecdotal, easy-to-read style of this book, which reminded me quite a bit of 'Freakonomics' which was popular a few years back. The only thing that slightly jarred while I was reading was the constant use of italics for the word Stuffocation which, as you might imagine, gets used quite a lot throughout the book. There is a quiz within the first couple of pages which is designed to tell you (if you didn't already know) how materialistic (or not) you are and you are also directed to take it online and share your score with the world, which I didn't get round to doing. The first couple of chapters are a collection of interesting thoughts about clutter, materialism and the throw-away culture. The author then suggests some possible alternatives to this way of living, like minimalism and the 'medium chill', then points out why he thinks they aren't the answer after all. The rest of the book is about 'experientialism' which is a fancy way of saying doing stuff, rather than having stuff. It was all a good, easy, enjoyable read.

Where the book fell down slightly for me though, was that I struggled to see how many of the experiences the author advocates could be easily and practically applied to family life. For example, it's significantly cheaper for us as a family to buy stuff, eg a movie or a new Xbox game than it is for us all to go out to the cinema or have a family day out etc. I get that the idea is that the author thinks we should be spending the money we would have spent on stuff to buy experiences instead, but I think that this is easier to achieve that if you are single and/or childless.

The book's message could be summed up by the following phrase - choose experiences over stuff. That's basically it. And not to be rude, but I'm not sure I really needed to read a whole book to get that point. There's quite a nice summary of 'The 7 habits of Highly Effective Experientialists' towards the back of the book, but again, I didn't need to read the whole book to get that message (it's on page 293 if you're interested). If you feel that you are surrounded by clutter and want to de-clutter/ de-stuffocate, there are a few useful pages at the back of the book with tips on how to do it, but if that's what you are looking for then there are probably better books out there with more detailed and helpful suggestions, such as the ubiquitous KonMarie method book.

I enjoyed the experience of reading Stuffocation, and I will enjoy the experience of giving it to the charity shop, but I probably won't be buying copies for my nearest and dearest this Christmas. Which, all things considered, should make the author reasonably happy.

Canda Mon 21-Mar-16 13:44:09

I received this book as part of the giveaway (thanks!).

The book makes the perfectly reasonable point, backed up and brought to life with evidence and case studies, that it's better to experience things than to buy stuff. I'm already a convert to this so I didn't take much convincing.

While I'm totally on board with the overall message, the book felt condescending E.g. the quiz at the start contains the question "would you rather (a) get a bespoke dress by Diane von Furstenberg, or (b) attend the DVF runway show" (WTF?).

It felt fake - like the author is writing for a sketch of a woman (who LOVES dresses and fashion and 'curling up with a home shopping catalogue' - yes this is actually in the book) rather than for a fully rounded human who might be interested in the topic. The imaginary reader also seems to be white. My jaw dropped at the comment on p.230 about "Chinese tourists buying everything in luxury stores like a plague of Australian rabbits".

In terms of the argument itself, there were some strange assertions that I didn't think stood up to scrutiny or at least weren't explained well enough (e.g. the author says that the expanding healthcare market is evidence of a rise of 'experientialism': surely it's just evidence of an aging population).

I don't think I learned anything new from this book, though as it seems to support my existing 'throw it all away' practice I'd be interested to know if it could change any more hardcore consumerists' views.

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