Book Review: Lightly by Francine Jay

This book was kindly gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Lately, I’ve been trying -- and struggling -- to clearly articulate what I mean when I say that minimalism isn’t just about decluttering for me, it’s also a lifestyle philosophy that I try to follow. Even though that idea is clear in my head, it can be hard to put into words, particularly when trying to explain it to a non-minimalist or aspiring declutterer. I got lucky though when Lightly: How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-free Life by Francine Jay came in the mail. Unlike a lot of the minimalism hype out there these days which focuses on decluttering, this book is about fostering a lifestyle centred on that single word: Lightly.

While decluttering is definitely a part of living lightly, this book also places equal emphasis on lightening stress, lightening the spirit, and lightening our impact on the planet. One of the things I love about this book is that there are no strict rules and no specific path you have to follow in order to live lightly. Lightness might look different to different people at various times in their lives, but it’s about so much more than just getting rid of old paperwork or clothes that don’t fit and calling it a day.

Lighten Your Step

In this section, Jay writes about how we can leave a lighter impact on the planet which, for me, is a big part of why I became a minimalist. I don’t simply want to have a tidy closet and an organized kitchen. I want to consume less, generate less waste, and invest in high quality but durable products. Lightening our step as we walk across the planet often means consciously rejecting many of the subliminal cultural values we absorb that encourage consumerism. This might mean a major philosophical shift for some people, but Jay will guide you through the basics step-by-step.

Lighten Your Stress

For Jay, living lightly also means moving through life without being overwhelmed, overbooked, and weighed down by scheduling. We live in a culture that glorifies business over rest, simplicity, and quality-time. Lightening our stress is another mental shift that can feel pretty subversive, but Jay will encourage you to unplug, unschedule, and do less.

Lighten Your Spirit

In the book’s final section, Jay explores what it means to cultivate a lightness of spirit through stillness, simplicity, kindness, and more. It might be strange to think of minimalism as having a spiritual bent, but it definitely does if you begin to think of it as a way of living simply and intentionally.

If you’re thinking about exploring a minimalist lifestyle, I highly encourage you to read Lightly by Francine Jay. While organization and decluttering is a great place to start -- and it does make up the first section of this book -- it’s just that: a starting point. Minimalism isn’t just about how much stuff you can donate to charity, it’s a way of thinking, being, and behaving in the world that creates not just physical space, but also emotional, ecological, and spiritual space.
I know this can sound overwhelming at first! As I said, I’ve often struggled to put these big ideas into words, but that’s why I’m so glad I found Lightly. It breaks down the easy steps toward simple, intentional, minimalist living in a way that anyone can understand -- even a beginner minimalist on the very start of their journey!