I’m currently taking a writing course through UCLA Extension. In addition to our weekly class meetings, we have homework assignments. Basically, there are two things writers must do on a regular basis -- read and write. So one of our ongoing assignments is to read a book a week. Preferably a non-fiction book since that’s what we’re writing in class.
Last week I read Mary Carlomagno’s Give It Up! - My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less. I don’t know where I first heard about this book, but it was marked as a “want to read” on my Goodreads list. And at 196 pages, it was readable in a week.
The basic premise -- Mary, the author, has decided that there’s just too much stuff in her life. Too many items, too many stresses, too many complications. Her solution -- to give up one item each month. To experiment and see how living without that one item changes her life (positively or negatively). I like the idea behind the book because it’s realistic. It’s something anyone can do, at any time in his/her life. (The author documented the changes she made over the course of a year).
In terms of my reading enjoyment, I was disappointed. I just couldn’t connect with a woman who was struggling to give up alcohol (can’t drink it), coffee (I prefer mochas -- blended or hot), eating out (maybe we do it once a week), and cursing (I was a teacher for 12 years and have a second grader at home so I’ve got that one under control).
Then there were other things the author cut out of her life that simply aren’t an option for me. One month, even though her office was on the 10th floor, she stopped using elevators (not possible in my case). And another month, she swore off chocolate (life’s too short and full of too much pain not to regularly enjoy a sweet treat).
Another month she stopped reading the newspaper. I must admit, that one did intrigue me. Reading the paper has become such a chore. (I wrote about this in another blog post. Here’s the link in case you missed it: http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-sunday-chore.html) Would I really feel so out of the loop if I stopped reading the paper and instead devoted that time to reading more books? I haven’t made up my mind on that one yet.
After reading the book, I gave it 2 stars (out of 5) on Goodreads. But it did make me think about changes I could make in my life, and it inspired this blog.
By the way, here’s the complete list of items Ms. Carlomagno gave up: alcohol, shopping, elevators, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, cursing, chocolate, multitasking.