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Dee William’s life changed in an instant with a near death experience in the aisle of her local grocery store Diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty one she was all too suddenly reminded that life is short time is precious and she wanted to be spending hers with the people and things she truly loved That included the beautiful sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest she had painstakingly restored—but increasingly it did not include the mortgage payments constant repairs and general time suck of home ownership A new sense of clarity began to take hold Just what was all this stuff for? Multiple extra rooms a kitchen stocked with rarely used appliances were things that couldn’t compare with the financial freedom and the ultimate luxury— time—that would come with downsizing             Deciding to build an eighty four suare foot house—on her own from the ground up—was just the beginning of building a new life Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars and it takes her approximately ten minutes to clean the entire house It’s left her with time to spend with family and friends and given her freedom to head out for adventure at a moment’s notice or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her yes tiny front porch             The lessons Williams learned from her “aha” moment post trauma apply to all of us every day regardless of whether or not we decide to discard all our worldly belongings Part how to part personal memoir The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down scaling back and appreciating the truly important things in life


10 thoughts on “The Big Tiny

  1. says:

    This is the memoir of a middle aged single woman that would be an ordinary life except for the fact that she constructed her own tiny house The story spans about ten years and includes her experiences living in the tiny house The author's tiny house has a footprint of eighty four suare feet per my memory which may be off a couple digits with a loft for sleeping It was constructed on a trailer but is not intended to be moved freuently In this particular case it was moved after its construction to the back yard of a friend and then remained there for many years and by the end of the book it has not been moved again Tiny houses differ from RVs or campers in that they are better insulated and are generally euipped with solar panels to enable living off the grid ie no utility bills The house is euipped with composting toilet and water tank which needs to be filledThis not a how to manual for tiny house construction However this book could serve as an enthusiasm booster for readers aspiring to build their own tiny house The main goal for the author and I presume also for most others who live in tiny houses was to lower the cost of housing to an affordable level and get one's life priorities in order The author expresses it as follows I discovered a new way of looking at the sky the winter rain the neighbors and myself; and a different way of spending my time Most important I stumbled into a new sort of “happiness” one that didn’t hinge on always getting what I want but rather on wanting what I have It’s the kind of happiness that isn’t tied so tightly to being comfortable or having money and property but instead is linked to a deeper sense of satisfaction to a sense of humility and gratitude and a better understanding of who I am in my heartThis book is well written so that the parts of the book that simply describe the ordinary parts of the author's life are also interesting I was inspired to read this book by a friend of mine who constructed and is living in a tiny house I thought this book might help me understand the motivations that inspire some people to do this My friend recommends this TED talk that provides a clear explanations of the merits of tiny house living So if you have any interest in the subject I recommend this TED talk because it explains things better than I can


  2. says:

    I liked this but I wasn't blown away by it It seemed to me to have too little memoir and not enough details about the house building and practicalities of living in such a tiny space over the course of a long time Dee definitely kept the reader at arm's length which is fine but I found it frustrating that I had a very incomplete portrait of her She talks a little about her medical condition but drops the info into the narrative in dribs and drabs so I was confused It sounded like originally her prognosis was bad but yet here she is so much later seemingly doing ok I wanted to know and that she really is doing alright The other confusing thing is when the book starts she's an inspector for state? government but later it seems she's a teacher but the timeline never really makes clear what happened when Maybe I'm too nosy but those uestions and holes in the story bothered meCertainly the minimalist living movement that is gathering steam in the US makes this a timely read but I can see how this lifestyle is not really practical for the vast majority of the people And issues like where do you take a shower and wash your cloths and get water are addressed but in a very privileged way Not everyone is going to have awesome friends who will invite you to park your tiny house in their backyard and share their shower with you Madison WI is exploring using this tiny house model to address homeless issues it will be interesting to see what comes of it


  3. says:

    Note I read an advanced copy of this book The finished product may be different that what I read I finally finished this I went into it gung ho as I am currently obsessed with the tiny home movement and mindfulness Where this bogged down for me was in the day to day drama of hanging out with friends injuries and well the memoir end of it Dee is perpetually upbeat and the pollyanna ness kind of wore on me after awhile I did LOVE the descriptions of the house building the house life in the house parking the house I just didn't care about anything else The final chapter is in my humble opinion the strongest chapter because it really describes the why of Dee's philosophy Is it wrong that I really wanted to know about how the composting toilet worked and less about who was having dinner at who's house? Overall I think it is an interesting read but I would have liked smoother storytelling There are some real inconsistencies For example Dee is injured in a book store? and helped by a librarian ? in one of the early chapters Another chapter talks about the dog's odd behavior features an injury on the ladder and then a death And then another death


  4. says:

    Dee Williams was living the American dream she had a college education a well paying job a mortgage and friends She thought she was happy she should be right she had it all When a health crises slams into her she is faced with a new reality and must find what really matters to herHer house her stuff they are anchors with barbs She has struggled for years to refurbish her home to mow the lawn to maintain the little things The time it takes is her life times her hour minutes and seconds She misses having time to live to just look up at the stars without the pressures of always having so much she needs to doShe has always believed in the magic of books everything is there if you look She is not afraid to pick up a wiring book and self teach electrical wiring or any other subject So when she meets a man who lives simple in a tiny home she starts absorbing information reading books and starting to believe She could do this She jumps and places a down payment of the first piece of her amazing futureThis book was so much than I expected I thought it would be about the nuts and bolts of small home building and living It was but it was about a woman with a broken heart who roars like a lion at life She has heartbreaking moments moments that had me in tears Her friends are the kind of people we should all be so lucky to have in ourlives After reading her tale I looked around at all my stuff all the time I give to it and while I'm not ready to go to that extreme now I do want less time stolen by unloved things I am so glad this book picked me while I was shelf surfing the library


  5. says:

    I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book While billed as a book about health scares and building a tiny house it's not really about that Yet it's totally about that I know that makes no sense just trust me on this one


  6. says:

    Originally posted on my blog A Lovely Bookshelf on the WallAfter being diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty one Dee Williams started to re examine her life her possessions and what matters most to her She decided to build an 84 suare foot house on a flatbed trailer from scratch on her ownI'm fascinated by the idea of living in such a small space especially one that can be moved from place to place The author's introspection gave me a lot to reflect upon personally and it was fascinating to read about how she went about downsizing her lifeHowever Williams would often jump around in her narrative following rabbit trails as she reminisced skipping around in time and that detracted from a sense of coherenceScattered as it could be I thoroughly enjoyed the content I was never once bored while reading Keep in mind that this isn't a do it yourself memoir It's a built it myself memoir A major life change such as Dee's forces a person into a great deal of internal reflection That's what this memoir gives the reader a human interest story When I finished reading The Big Tiny I felt like I'd really gotten to know Dee WilliamsI would rate this closer to 3 12 stars I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review


  7. says:

    3 stars It was goodWas less about minimalism and about her personal life than I was expecting but still an interesting and thought provoking read Those interested in tiny house living will also find this one worthwhile Favorite uote Most important I stumbled into a new sort of “happiness” one that didn’t hinge on always getting what I want but rather on wanting what I have It’s the kind of happiness that isn’t tied so tightly to being comfortable or having money and property but instead is linked to a deeper sense of satisfaction—to a sense of humility and gratitude and a better understanding of who I am in my heartFirst Sentence For months now I’ve been waking up at four in the morning


  8. says:

    I got this book because I have an interest on the Tiny House movement I watch the tiny house blog on FB and my daughter is interested in TEDX talks We watched Dee Williams on Youtube give her TED talk Dee and I have alot in common Wea re the same age have lived similar lives in a lot of ways I was am a kayaker not a climber as Dee was but the living in houses with too many roommates without proper heat or running water and then getting up at 3 am to drive hundreds of miles in a snowstorm to paddle some frozen river I get it Then I read the book and was really blown away I wonder if I could put my life into perspective the way Dee does I hope she writes and I wish her success in all she does I truly enjoyed this book in so many ways This book really spoke to me about life Not in a preachy way that we are all over consuming Americans It spoke to my heart about peeling way all the bullshit and really connecting with who we are Thanks and praises to Dee


  9. says:

    In a time where budget are getting tighter and the need to trim budgets has made a lot of people take a harder look at what they waste their hard earned money on this inspirational book had me ready to sell everything and build my own little tiny house Seriously I started a binder and everything But I digress It wasn't a how to book about the tiny home revolution but part Why you should consider it and part memoir It was moving well written and well worth a read


  10. says:

    Even though most of the audience for this book is likely to be those who live in a tiny house or are interested in doing so The Big Tiny is very much NOT a how to manual Instead it is much the story of one very interesting woman's life and the huge journey she undertook which led her to new emotional depths and ultimately a fulfilling lifeMany of the tiny home proponents at least the ones in my life seem to talk about the prospect rather idealistically What they don't talk about or even seem to want to acknowledge are that there are any hardships I find many of these people think similarly about other things—perhaps they think they'll be convincing to others if they pretend everything is rainbows and unicorns? Personally I'm less likely to believe that a tiny house is utopia for every person who chooses it as these people seem to try and convince others Instead I want to know about the parts that weren't that great and how one can rise to the challenge that your bold life choice has given youInstead of using her 200 some page book to gush over and over about how great her house on wheels is Dee takes the reader on a journey A journey in a real world where not everything is perfect Dee buys a house at 34 Her journey starts with a bang several years later in the form of a heart attack As she steps along her path she encounters obstacles from severely underestimating the amount of time her home will take to build to giving away all her stuff About the latter she is candid giving away her stuff was much emotional and like everything else took far time than she had originally estimated One poignant passage talks about the peculiar items that were so hard to let go of but which would serve no purpose in her new house She concludes Letting go of 'stuff' allowed the world to collapse behind me as I moved so I became nothing or less than who I simply was MeDee confides in readers about things she really would rather not admit like that she once glued her hair to the house during construction or that she cried about giving away a popcorn popper I can tell that we are very different people but Dee writes about very human emotions that can reach someone whether or not they want to live in a house the size of an area rug Personally I do not pine for a house that small but have a wish to build one of the larger houses designed by Dee's colleague Jay ShaferHighly recommended