I think if someone really, really loves simplemom.net, they'll love Organized Simplicity
. If, like me, they take what they can use from Simple Mom and ignore the rest, then this book will probably just be okay
-- especially since most of the useful info in the book is already covered in the author's blog.
Much of the first half of this book is devoted to explaining why we should buy into simplified/intentional living, and while there are some good points, this section as a whole feels a little judgmental and overly simplistic.
To be fair, I may have gotten off to a bad start with the background section of the book -- in the beginning of the first chapter, Oxenreider talks about not making excuses, that we have the ability to shape our lives into simple ones. She posits that "[w]e can't blame a hectic schedule, too many bills to pay, or too many messes to clean for keeping us from our goals because we can do something about those." That sentence might be more convincing if she'd left out the "too many bills to pay"; sometimes those bills aren't there by choice and they're too large to buckle down and pay in a year or two. Similarly, her arguments against dual-income families rub me the wrong way. Is "working a dead-end job that leaves you unfulfilled" really just a bad habit?
Maybe I should just say: I think Oxenreider and I live in very different worlds. Which is fine! In case you don't believe it's fine, the author herself allows that the reader "may be thinking [she's] extreme, and you just can't or don't want to live life the way I do. That's okay."
Something I've seen mentioned in other reviews: Oxenreider is a Christian, and mentions giving things to God or glorifying God a handful of times in the first few chapters, which might turn some people off. I expected it because she is vocal about her Christianity in her blog, but I guess it could have been a little jarring if I hadn't.
Once you get past all of the extended set-up there's a ten-day plan for simplifying your house. I picked through it to see if there was anything I can use. This part of the book is nicely organized, going room by room and giving tips and checklists for cleaning and decluttering. It's not new information if you've been reading blogs like Oxenreider's for a while, but it is nice to have it all in one place. There are some good recipes for green cleaners in there, too.
One of the four appendices has pro/con lists for several "choices for a simpler life" and I had to laugh when I hit "Should we use cloth or disposable diapers?" because the author's bias is so evident that she might as well have drawn a picture of a sad-faced Earth for the pro-disposables list. Then I got to "Should we become a one-car family?" and found the two-item con list: lack of independence to travel, and it MIGHT limit "choices of employment, entertainment, and community involvement." Someone
has never lived in the sticks.
Mostly I think I should have just skipped the preachy bits and stuck to the meat of the organizational stuff. I know there are people who will get a LOT from the ~lifestyle choice~ section, but it isn't applicable to my life at this point. The Simple Mom blog is a better fit for me; I think I'll stick to that.
P.S. TOTALLY UNIMPORTANT BUT BUGGING ME: What is UP with that usage of "privy," I DO NOT EVEN KNOW. Is it common usage that has just escaped me my entire reading life? ("But more than 50 percent of Americans live in the suburbs. I'm not sure too many of those folks are privy to abandoning their motor vehicles.")