This book has been patiently sitting on my Netgalley Shelf for a couple of months now. So I’m pleased to have been able to read it this week. Here’s my book review of A Year Living Simply by Kate Humble.
Book Cover Notes
If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy. And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple. Having stuff – The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness. So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young? Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?
So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness? Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy. Do we need to take a step back, reprioritise? Do we need to make our lives more simple?
Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting, engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.
In this book, Kate shares her journey to find out what it really means to live a simple life. Kate has a busy life, her tv career means that she travels around the country, often away from home for weeks at a time.
At the beginning of the book Kate recounts her favourite holiday in the South of France some years previous. In which she stayed in a log cabin with very basic facilities and no technology. Totally isolated, with time to walk, swim in the lake, read, sleep and eat delicious food collected from the local market.
Kate begins to wonder what, if anything, she can do to make life simpler. Her first project was to embark on a spot of gardening. She wants to learn how to grow fruit and veg in a dedicated section on her 4 acres of land! This sounded like a good place to start, the excitement and enjoyment of growing your own food.
Unfortunately, Kate gets carried away and fills her garden, and a newly installed greenhouse, with loads of unusual and exotic fruit and veg, most of which I’d never heard of. Surprisingly, she also employs the help of a gardener. This resulted in alot of hard work and expense and rather missed the point I think.
Once all the seeds were potted and growing was underway, Kate turns her attention to other ‘simple life’ projects to try. She takes a bread making course and shares a few recipes for bread & chilli jam. Ok, now we’re getting something useful. Sadly, next up was a trip to New Mexico for three weeks to help build an Earthship (Google it I had to!).
At this point I was mildly disappointed with the book. I was expecting to read more about de-cluttering her life, making simple swaps as well as money savings ideas as ultimately Kate was advocating living debt free.
That said, Kate did cover the concept of mend and make do, a mindset that we all need to move back to. There was an interesting chapter in which Kate visits a young couple who have managed to create themselves a home from scrap, recycled and disused items. They were determined not to get into debt, not to take out a mortgage and live as much as possible off the land that they had purchased with inheritance money.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. Kate raises several thought-provoking questions and challenges us to think about what are the simple things in life? There were a number of good quotes that I have taken on board for myself, some of which I’ve added to this post.
This isn’t the book for you if you’re looking for a diary format of ‘A year of Living Simply’ that you can apply to your own life. It’s not, as I was expecting, a week by week account of Kate’s life in which she de-clutters her home, her job and her life.
If you’re a fan of Kate Humble then buy this book as you will enjoy it. Kate’s writing is open, honest and easy to read. You will learn more about Kate’s ‘off screen’ country life. As a dog owner myself, I enjoyed reading Kate’s country walks with her dogs. I totally identified with the simple pleasure of dog walking. Getting out in the fresh air, enjoying nature and giving yourself some space and a chance to unwind a busy mind. Now that’s simple living.
Where to Buy
About The Author
Kate Humble is a writer & broadcaster specialising in science, wildlife & rural affairs. She started her television career as a researcher, later presenting programmes such as ‘Animal Park’, ‘Springwatch’ and ‘Autumnwatch’.
Her last book, Thinking on My Feet, was shortlisted for both the Wainwright Prize and the Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year. A year of Living Simply by Kate Humble was released in 2020.
Where to Find Kate Online
Further Book Info:
- Published Date: 17th Sept 2020
- Publisher: Aster
- Page Count: 304
Thanks to Netgalley, Aster publishing and Kate Humble for my digital copy of the book for my honest review.
I hope my book review of A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble has been useful.
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