Book Review ~ iWant by Jane Velez-Mitchell

It’s been a while since I read this book, back in April/May to be exact. I have been undecided as to whether to write a review about it or not. When I read the title and the front cover of the book it sounded like it would be more about learning to live without the desire to acquire stuff than it actually turned out to be. The blurb on the cover read ~ “My JOURNEY from ADDICTION and OVERCONSUMPTION to a SIMPLER, HONEST LIFE.”

The book certainly was about overconsumption in the form of addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, food, work of relationships but the section of the book dedicated to overconsumption of material goods was quite a short one. Nevertheless there is a lot to be learned from this book and I feel it is well worth the read.

In her own words TV news journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell tells about her life, her overindulgences and her journey of self-discovery. The first issue she addresses is her addiction to alcohol. She then applies the 12 steps program she learns at Alcoholics Anonymous to the other areas in her life that were out of control. The chapter on material overconsumption begins like this…

     “For some addicts, the substance of choice is alcohol. For others, it’s drugs, For still other, it’s food. But there’s one addiction that virturally all of us share. You and I and nearly all Americans are hooked on things.

     We’ve been conditioned to identify ourselves as consumers. We are constantly being indoctrinated to buy, buy, buy. And we’re all “drinking the Kool-aid”! It’s a cult I’m fighting to escape, But it’s hard. There are guards at the exits. And they have instructions from the powers that be: Don’t let anybody out!

She talks about how overconsumption is affecting the environment and the changes she has made to lesson her  own carbon footprint.

She also writes about her switch to veganism, her work against animal cruelty and about her coming out as gay. As you can tell she has certainly faced some challenges in her life and it is a credit to her how she has managed to overcome them right in the public spotlight and continues to work at her sobriety of all her vices.

Like I said, this book really is worth the read even if your addiction is only a mild one to material possessions. What Jane learnt and you can too is that the same rules of acceptance, forgiveness and action can be applied to overcome any vice. If she could conquer the mammoth challenges she faced what excuse do you or I have to balk in the face of a little decluttering and conscientious consumerism.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter the surfaces of your fridge, both vertical and horizontal.

Today’s Declutter Item

This is one more craft item decluttering during my big craft area minimisation. I have other cutting mats so this one was excess to my needs. It may be a while yet until you see the last of the decluttered craft items. Considering how much I reduced the area of my craft space I should think the items would take some time to pass through as items of the day on the blog.

Craft Cutting Mat

Something I Am Grateful For Today

The perfect clothes drying day. Plenty of sunshine and a bit of a breeze. Three loads all dried on the line today in winter using an front loading washing machine.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I certainly agree with Jane that Americans are hooked on things and consumering. We have too much of everything. Everytime I walk through a store here I think of all the people who don’t have enough food let alone all the other things we take for granted.

    • Sad isn’t it Deb J and it is no different here in Australia. I was just thinking about this myself the other day. All those “just in case” items we own that would be a sheer luxury to someone who really could use it. It made be decide to get rid of a few more things.

      • Not only shops, fleamarkets also are a big reminder of the overabundance in which we live. Tables full of clothes always amaze me (though I have been guilty of owning and buying way too many clothes myself for over a decade) and when you try to sell you notice how many people mention that they don’t need it or who show no appreciation for the things at all and only search for a super bargain and expect things to be new and of expensive brands. Surely, if someone needs a pair of jeans or a pair of shoes they would not focus on some signs of wear or brands so obsessively but on whether the item fits, looks good on them, is of decent quality … and they would not focus as much on the price but on the money saved and the value they get. If I want to buy a second hand jeans I happily pay 10 $ if it is what I am looking for and call it a day because I saved 50 to 80 $ in comparison to buying new and I also saved myself the hassle of running from shop to shop. Of course I could be lucky and get something for 3$ but would I settle for something that’s second best for the difference of a a coffee and a piece of cake? Definitely not (any more …)
        Rambling aside: there are always nice people on the fleamarket, too, who are likely to wear, read or utilise otherwise what they buy and not just do it for a cheap shopping fix. But the whole experience always is a big reminder for me of how wrong some things are around here when it comes to consumption …

        • Hi Ideealistin, you bring up an interesting point here. Even secondhand goods are the subjects of desire for over consuming people. Many people who buy secondhand do so because they can’t afford new or they are considerate of the environment but others are only on the lookout for good condition well known designer labels for the sake of a cheap vanity fix. I imagine you encounter quite a variety of personalities while tending a stall at secondhand markets. It really can be an eye-opener. I get the same gamut of people coming through the thrift store while I am there.

          • I tried to explain exactly that to my aunt, who loves to thrift store shop. Because she claims she doesnt have enough money, she tries to make bargains – EVERY WEEK. I tried to explain to her that I would consider her shopping habits as problematic as she actually spends money on items she doesnt need – it doesnt matter if its 30 or 3 euros for a pair of shoes. if you dont need that, its waste of money.
            overconsumption comes in many different ways.

        • Flea markets definitely are as much a testament and proof of our consumerist culture as are retail shops. It’s a bit sickening really, to see that EVERYBODY has SO MUCH EXCESS. Young people selling loads of hardly-worn clothing etc.
          I also agree that thrift shoppers can also be too materialistic and into consumerism, always searching for new bargains.

      • I also was thinking about this as I declutter.
        We waste so much money, time and engergy on things we dont need.
        But the really, really sad thing is that the things that we don’t want or need could be used overseas in poorer countries but noone wants to spend the money to ship them there or organise it all.
        Again I heard the other day that some of the charity shops wont take anything that is’nt in a box. This is really disgusting.
        it also means that we are once again having to send these items to the tip for MORE LANDFILL. When will people get the idea to STOP.
        sorry on my soap box today.

        • Not all charities are as fussy as others. I would keep searching until you find one that is more realistic about what kind of donations people have to give. The lifeline I work at isn’t as fussy as the ones you mention. There are many charities that do send overseas. They aren’t always obvious but utilise Google and see what you can find.

          • thank you for that Colleen, will give it a try.
            By the way I was decluttering this morning and have 3 artist studios that were mine childrens. The ones that are like a case and have textas, pencils, crayons, sharpeners, rubbers and rulers in them. My point is that even after 15yrs post of the things in these are still good to use so do I send them to the op shop or bin them or take out what is good and give that to who ever can use it?

  2. Thank you for your review of this book. I purchased this book at a discount store because I was intriqued by the title. I think it will be a good read. One of my declutter goals is to read one book a week to reduce the amount of books I own. I hardly ever keep books once I have read them and look forward to reducing my amount by passing them on to others to read or donating them.

    • Hi Jen why not just borrow them from the library in the first place. They come with a built in pass it on system there. Mind you even though I can order in books from all the my regional libraries to my own I still can often not get what I want.

      On reflection it is a bit ridiculous that I made this comment because I actually did buy this book. The only reason I bought it was because I wanted something to read in my down time during our recent trip to America. I thought about borrowing a book before I left but I didn’t like the chance that a library book could get a little battered or worse still lost along the way.

      • I think you need to buy books for travel, so you can ‘dump’ them when done. I usually trawl the second hand shop pre-holiday. Otherwise, I’m a library borrower. That being said, like Jen, I have a small stash of ‘owned’ books I wish to read so I can declutter, or keep if I deem necessary. They live on my bed head – and I keep going to the library over reading them – hrmmm…

        • Hi Snosie,
          perhaps you could donate those books to the library and then you will still have access to them without having to store them. Or perhaps you just need a vacation so you can take one with you and leave it behind somewhere. Option two does sound the best.

          • Hi Colleen – some of the ‘bedhead’ to read books have been jetsetting but just didn’t get finished (two on the last russian Tsarina for example). I always worry that a library may not want my books, but there’s no harm in asking surely? One is falling apart, so best I read that rather than try to foist on someone else.

      • In the future I will utilize the library more especially after I get through the books I have. I did receive an e-reader as a recent gift too and that should cut down on my clutter immensely.

  3. This doesn’t sound like a book I would enjoy, but I appreciate the review so I didn’t waste the time and energy finding it. I did buy the Life in the 21st Century book done by UCLA about families and their clutter. I usually don’t buy books, but I couldn’t get it through the library and I was so anxious to read it. It should come later this week. I don’t smoke or drink and that saves a ton of money, not to mention avoiding the addictions that can come along with them. I guess it is another way of decluttering your life.

    • Smoking and drinking certainly would not fit you pseudonym of Spendwisemom. I found this book interesting because although it wasn’t as much about the subject of things as I thought it was going to be I realised while reading it that giving up any sort of vice requires the same strengths and principals.

    • You know what’s so weird Spendwisemom? I found this website through the simple dollar, and just today they had an article on how not smoking or drinking could save you money. Regardless, the point is still true, and I’m happy to not take part in either (except for probably a glass of something at family reunions-you practically need it with mine 😛 )

  4. Sounds interesting Colleen, will see if my library has it, especially as they’ve just announced they’re no longer charging for reservations (that made me SO happy!!)

    My cutting mat is getting very little use as a craft tool at the moment (no motivation whatsoever!) but it’s currently in use as a big movable surface to do jigsaw puzzles on.

    • Loretta – mine only charges if someone has it on loan (I’m not sure why, but it’s free if it’s on the shelf somewhere)

    • I hope my library catches on to the no reservation fee idea. Actually I don’t mind paying the fee to get books in from other local libraries or held but the $8 to get one from further afield like Sydney is a little steep for me to bother.

      The cutting mats I still have aren’t getting used much either. Not from lack of motivation, more lack of time. Between trips away and my operation I am forever playing catch up or having to fill posts in advance leaving me very little time for anything else. Although I do go for coffee with friends quite often but that is a must do.

  5. I like the title.

    OK – this is going to sound so ironic considering the book review is on consumerism but I need an opinion on something I Want

    I have enough reward points from my bank (after many years saving) to get either an iPhone or an iPad. We own a mac laptop but I don’t get to use that a lot as the kids use it. I got an iPod Touch a couple of months ago as my entry into the i-world. I figured I should master an iPod before I threw the phone side of things into it. I didn’t have to pay for the iPod it was a prize.

    My mobile phone has recently begun to become ‘difficult’ as phones do once they’re coming to the end of their lives but sure I will get a few months at the very least out of it. However, in 12 months time our business phones contract expires (with a company we have not had good service out of) and as our mobile phones are with yet another company on a currently expired contract just on a month to month plan. My master plan is to approach one company to do all our phones, internet & mobiles and hopefully squeeze a good deal for an iPhone out of it.

    I could pass my iPod onto someone else in the family as my hubby is what I call i-ignorant or my older daughters is starting to play up. Our household loves music so any music devices lead a hard life.

    I’m not actually sure what I would do with an iPad. Everyone who has one says they are wonderful and they don’t know what they did without one but no one seems to be able to tell me what I would do with one.

    The kids think I should get the iPad because (a) they want to get their mitts on it and (b) they know I will always find something more important to prioritise, even if it isn’t real money and (c) my older daughter says a smart phone is really a business expense and (d) we have one pc and one laptop and three at high school who all need to log in to school for their home work and assignments, so it could help with a bit of a bottle neck.

    On the other hand an iPhone could reduce me carry around my phone, ipod and kobo in my handbag.

    I don’t know enough about iPads to decide iPad with any sort of conviction.

    What is your i-Opinion?

    • I have found that if you have an iPod touch, and a regular old phone, there’s no need for the outrageously expensive iPhone. If I was given a choice between the two, I would pick the iPad hands down, because they are more like a computer (and less of a money draw). Using an iPhone as a replacement for everything will kill the battery life in no time flat. I had an ex who literally left his on the charger at all times, because if he had a two hour block of classes it would barely survive. I would say for money’s sake, stick with a regular phone and your iPod touch, and get the iPad. It may be one more thing in your household, but it will likely give you a lot less trouble and hassle (and really, I’d rather have a big piece of clutter that’s out of the way than a little piece of clutter I have to deal with every day – a ginormous laundry tub in one area vs a pair of socks in the middle of the floor) An iPhone may appear more useful (and smaller) than the iPad, and if you are the right kind of person (only wants it for business purposes and doesn’t plan on downloading angry birds or any other games) then it can be. However, most people don’t use them solely for business, and that can get expensive and frustrating quickly. (My phone lasts for DAYS without charging, and my itouch lasts a day of playing, every smartphone I’ve met NEEDS to charge every night, and often in the middle of the day)

      In summary, the iPad will likely get a lot more use, be a lot less frustrating, and be a lot less costly than an iPhone. HOWEVER, if upon doing the appropriate research you find that an iPhone is perfect for you (likely not, but you never know), then go ahead and get that.

      • My issues with ipads are they are harder to type on than a laptop (if you’re using it like another computer), but better than a phone… I also use a lot of google products (docs, etc) and they don’t work well with ipads either. That being said, I don’t have an iphone, so I can’t weigh in there, nor an itouch. I only borrow a ipad regularly as an alternate web surfing thing…

      • Hi Moni,
        I’m with Amanda: iPad!
        The iPhone is a great thing, but it’s not really a phone. But if you want to use it for other things mainly anyway like surfing the internet, reading, listening to music, then soon the size of the screen and the constant need to recharge it will drive you crazy. Besides that, I would not feel comfortable giving my phone to someone but the iPad could be used by the whole family.
        I don’t have an iPad but everyone I know who has one loves it. It’s not a substitute for a computer or a laptop, but mainly a tool for surfing, reading and entertainment. If there is a need for something like that in your family and it could free space on one of the computers for someone who really has to work (and it is free anyway) it sounds like a good thing for a family of five with two computers.

      • I have an iPod Touch I use for all of my music and my iPhone 4G which I use for everything when I’m not home. A lot of folks have complained about the battery life on the phone when used a lot. A dear friend showed me that if you close out the programs running in the background (works for iPads and iPod Touch as well), then you can extend the battery life.
        To do so:
        Double click the center bottom button. It will bring up the “running programs” at the bottom of the screen. If you hold down one of those icons until it “wiggles” and a red – circled shows. Click the red – to close it out. And no, it won’t delete the app from the device. The reason the battery gets sucked down is all of those apps running in the background sucking up battery power for no reason. It’s kinda like having chargers plugged into a power strip that is always on. Turning the power strip off won’t “kill” the chargers, but leaving it on will up your electric usage.

        • Hi Gen – one of the guys where I work downloaded a free app that shuts down everything except what you have previously nominated. It is amazing what will be running in the background.

    • We have at least one of everything you mentioned. Son has a video iPod for listening to music, a iMac on his desk for uni work~ photo editing mostly, an iPad he takes to uni and on vacations and uses constantly at home and an iPhone 4 for communication and for scheduling ~ it has been invaluable since his brain injury. He has misplaced his iPhone a couple of times which is in sync with his iPad which can locate it when lost. Hubby has a Mac Mini for office use and photo editing and uploading, an iPod touch for music and travel, a kobo instead of buying books, and an iPad for reading web blogs while still being able to sit and watch television together in the evenings. I have my daughters old iPhone 3 for communication and a 13inch MacBook Pro for blogging and all my other computer needs. Believe it or not these things are all in constant use sometimes all at once. A little too much multitasking going on around her at times.

      Right now Son is in his room using his iMac for facebook updates and chat, while watching videos on this iPad while receiving text messages on his iPhone. I am watching TV while answering comments on my MacBook Pro while my phone sits beside me in case my daughter calls. Meanwhile my husband is sitting beside me browsing articles on his iPad while also watching television.

      Tech items are rarely considered clutter in our household until they becomes too old to keep up with the latest programming. Do we have a ridiculous number of tech items, yes but like I said they are all used.

      If you are having scheduling issues because of a lack of computers I would suggest you get the iPad. If communication is your greatest need then get the iPhone. Only you can know what is your most immediate need.

      If I had this option at the moment I would take the iPhone because the old one of my daughter’s is on it’s last legs and often won’t do what it is supposed to do. I would also like the better camera of the iPhone 4 and the video photography option that the 3 doesn’t have. But that is me. from what I read of your needs you have almost equal need of either option. With three kids in high school and only two computers in the house I would be inclined to go for the iPad if I were you.

  6. This seems to fit hand in hand with the book Cindy reviewed earlier: The Power of Habit. I’m reading it now and LOVE it. One of the things they say is that once you can get control of one habit (or break it or re-learn it), then it will be easier to get control of other areas in your life that you struggle with. I’ll add this one to my list to read as well!

  7. My son gave me a EePC for Christmas a few years ago. Small and handy, enough to keep me happy on the net. I now have access to an iPad. Leaves the PC for dead. Well, let me begin,
    The iPad helps reduce clutter! It is so easy to use as far as browsing the net because of its marvelous touch screen. I can download magazines and recently downloaded the book reviewed by Cindy on habits and I loved it. Read the review in the morning started reading the book in the afternoon.
    It is so great to browse images and photos on the net, they are so crisp and clear. Pinterest and Flickr are especially fantastic.
    It’s portable, I utilize the free net access at libraries when I am away and some business districts have street net as well. It can entertain you or inform you wherever you are. I have it mounted on a Dick Smith speaker stand my youngest bought for me for Christmas, which is a good idea as it gets charged while you use it. I have Skype on it so I can call my sister in Germany. When we chat , the video is a bonus, she can show me her beautiful granddaughter!
    Overall , ease of use for me is a 10/10 . Typing messages is 10/10. Reading emails and searching the net 10/10 . The camera is not as great as the iPhone , but handy just the same. Being able to download house magazines like Dwell is a bonus. It does not have QuickTime , so some videos can’t be watched. I have not found this to be too distressing as I have the PC to do this on if absolutely necessary.
    There is also a great shopping application that I have used a couple of times , called Scan2list. You can scan the bar code of items you need to buy , or take a photo and create a list . You take the iPad to supermarket buy the items on the list, add the prices in, if you want too. Items like weird light bulbs for a lamp can be photographed so you know what you are looking for. An excellent application if someone else is doing your shopping for you. Well Moni , you can tell I love my iPad, but I don’t have to share it with my children…much. Cheers

    • Ps. I forgot to say, do not let them have your access code to download applications. Otherwise you will have all sorts of stuff on your screen that has cost you 99c for each one (minimum) .cheers