Saturday, April 23, 2016

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup, 2016

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STUFF. It's everywhere. Lurking in corners and closets, spilling onto counters and coffee tables, creating havoc everywhere we look. And it's not just the physical clutter that weighs us down. Oh no, it is the stress of overbooked schedules, and the weight of life that sometimes feels oppressive and totally out of whack.
New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup feels your pain--she has been there too. Through personal stories, Biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire and empower each of us to finally declutter not just our home, but our mind and soul as well. Unstuffed is real, honest, and gets right down to the question we are all facing--how can we take back our lives from the stuff that is weighing us down?

(224 pages)

This book reminds me of another self-help guide I read lately, Gretchen Ruben's habit-formation guidebook Better Than Before. With all due respect to what was a pretty good book, I have to say that I like this one a lot more.

And it's not even that the tips are so much better (to be honest, there's actually a certain amount of overlap). No, the biggest draw with this book is that Soukup is just so relatable and nice that I feel like she actually knows what she's talking about. Ruben may have been a huge busy-body sticking her nose into other people's habits, but it was pretty clear she was also a rather self-righteous control freak. To be perfectly honest, there are days - many days - where I fit that description. I don't, however, really enjoy being inside the brain of someone else like that. With Soukup, however, I can see myself in a different way: I see the messy house, the everyday calamities of living with kids, the exasperation of all that junk everywhere.

I mean, I'm not even really the target audience for this book. I'm a seventeen-year-old high school student, not a mom with a house full of junk. My control freak tendencies, however, have driven me toward finding better ways to quell the stream of stuff that's always flowing around my room. Soukup's advice is basically "get rid of everything you haven't used in a while and/or don't care about." While I'm definitely not as ruthless as she is (I see memories where she sees opportunities to cut sludge), and I'm still very much in the "there's got to be a perfect way to organize all of this without throwing stuff away" phase, I can still appreciate her advice's value - though mostly for other people.

The second half of the book actually isn't really about unstuffing your house at all; it's about unstuffing your life. I really loved Soukup's advice in those chapters, even though I was initially caught off-guard by the switch. Her advice about making sure you get more sleep definitely affected me (I immediately downloaded Sleep Cycle, the app that she recommended, and I already love it!), and her admonition to make sure you're not overworking yourself really struck me in my current pre-AP-exam frenzy. In the past six months I've moved across the country, had wrist surgery, struggled with the College Board through the process of getting a computer accommodation, debated whether and then decided to get braces, and struggled through the process of making new friends after the move - not to mention keeping up with my four AP classes and, of course, studying for the exams (that are now in less than two weeks - eep!). Soukup's advice to pace yourself, to allow yourself room to breathe, is exactly what I needed to be reminded of right now. I have to recognize the fact that I'm under a lot of stress right now, and I need to make an effort to carve out space in my schedule to detox from it.

Which I'll definitely do . . . after my AP exams. Summer has never looked so inviting.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program.

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