Book Review: The Year Without a Purchase

Minimalism and conscious living have taken the interwebs by storm over the last couple of years and I was not left behind….

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Title: The Year without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting

Author: Scott Dannemiller

Publishing Date: August 4th, 2015  

Publisher: Westminister John Knox Press

Goodreads rating: 3 Stars

It took me a while but I finally got to finish this book. Minimalism and conscious living have taken the interwebs by storm over the last couple of years and I was not left behind.  I wanted to the hype to die down a bit (at least in my section) before I could get back on the bandwagon.

As the title suggests, Scott Dannemiller and his wife Gabby had an ‘aha moment’ after spending a lean year in South America as missionaries, only to come back to the United States to carry the weight of American fast-food and consumerism culture. So they decided to have a one-year shopping ban by trimming down their expenses and making conscious purchases by buying only the bare minimum (toothpaste, groceries etc) and to focus more on creating memories and experience. Though they were apprehensive about how their two children will handle to the experiment.  Their story is peppered with anecdotes how they will able to survive sticky nail-biting family situations with a lot of DIY  fixes.  I was challenged to find alternatives that are within reach without having to rush to the nearest supermarket, especially our culture of convenience which has been embedded in us millennials. See the reference to the purple suitcase anecdotes.

I was particularly drawn to this book because a lot of the blogs that I have come across have most told me of the before and after parts of decluttering but not the messy middle. I loved his candidness and how he was able to weave his personal Christian beliefs and research studies into his narrative in a light-hearted manner.

One of my favourite parts was Scott’s business trip to Riyadh, Saudia Arabia when he was schooled by one of his seminar attendees on their prayer times. He reflected on how each prayer time bore a separate significance and was designed to create a disciplined approach to life. This informed him and his wife, Gabby to make a couple more intentional changes in their own daily routines like having a kid-friendly morning devotional before their school run and “roses and thorns” (reflecting on what’s good and bad about their day) at the dinner table.

Personally, I think I would have enjoyed this book even more in audiobook format because he’s definitely witty. Plus it would have added a punch in some of the jokes. This book would be a good entry point for anyone raising a young family while contemplating minimalism journey and wants to know the journey looks like.

Photo credit: Goodreads

Note: Digital review copy was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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About Lillian

I am a proud student of the human experience which provides me with the perfect excuse for being a bibliophile (read: book hoarder) and the unofficial patron of Nairobi Inama bookshops. But in my past life, I was a recorder player. You can also find me on Medium (@lillianyamongo) where I discuss sustainable finance.
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