Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: Organize for a Fresh Start, by Susan Fay West

I love my Kindle. Even more, I love reading free books on my Kindle. A lot of publishers and writers offer a book for free as an introduction to their other work, or they discount a book for a short time to get people interested. You will find several different kinds of products in the Kindle Store: an awful lot of books from bad writers who don't know how bad they are, trying to get some easy publicity, a lot of public domain works (Sherlock Holmes seems to be especially popular right now), and occasionally a real gem from real writers.

What does this have to do with the Year of Finished Business? I download an awful lot of books. At the moment, I have 460 items in my Kindle library. How many of those have I read? No more than a quarter of them. In fact, a lot of them are garbage, but since I haven't actually opened them to check, I haven't deleted them yet. So right there is some unfinished business worth taking care of.

So yesterday I downloaded a book that showed some promise: Organize for a Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life, by Susan Fay West. I enjoy "lifestyle design" books, and I liked the intro to this one. She writes, "Organizing gives you a sense of control, which, in the context of a life transition, is at a shortage, or may not even exist at some points. At midcrisis we often have no control." This is kind of what I was writing about in my "Washing Dishes" post. The book is about adapting your surroundings, your routine, and your space to fit the changes and transitions in your life. I like the idea, but the book turned out to really only be about organizing. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; I was just hoping for something more profound or groundbreaking in terms of achieving change in your life. I like the activity questions the book provides, and I hope to use some of them when I get around to cleaning out some areas of the apartment.

But reading the first few chapters did get me thinking about STUFF. Our lives are about stuff, and we design our lives around stuff that we have, and stuff we don't have but want to acquire, when it's not really the stuff that matters. It's what we DO that matters. I appreciate what Susan West writes about adapting your stuff to what matters in your life, but in the end, it still feels like it's still about the stuff.

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