Book Review: 7 – An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

by Cate on June 1, 2013

7 by Jen HatmakerWhen it comes to picking out books to read, my interests are all over the place. There are some genres that I typically don’t read, sci-fi, fantasty, and most romances, for example, but after that? Anything goes.

The only thing I try to do, when going from title to title, is to have some type of balance. A fluff or fun book followed by something heavier. And such is the case with 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

If you’re a blogger or regular reader, Jen Hatmaker might be a familiar name to you. She is, after all, the author of 9 books and a popular blog.

7 follows along as Jen and a small group of friends decide to do more with less, railing against excess in an effort to be more intentional and give more to God. Each chapter focuses on a different area that Jen (and her family of 7, who is along for the ride) wants to cut back in, including food, clothing and more. In the first chapter, Food, Jen mentioned that watching the movie Food, Inc. terrified her children, I could definitely relate. I saw the movie a few months back and it was life-changing (review coming soon).

As Jen tackles each of the 7 different areas of her life, the reader comes away with many little tips that they can implement in their own life, if they’re looking to cut back as well. She writes with a dry wit, which is appreciated because it felt like real humor and reality, as opposed to humor for humor’s sake, and since some of the topics are a bit heavier, it was a nice way to keep the reader engrossed in her journey as it unfolded.

At the end of each month (and chapter), I would have loved to know how the previous months’ challenges were integrated in the future. For example, in the Food chapter, Jen decided that she would only eat or drink from a list of seven different foods, to limit excess and waste, and heighten appreciation and creativity. But when her family moved onto the clothing chapter (wearing only seven items of clothing for the entire month), did the food challenge piece continue? And I would have loved a little more closure at the end, and to know how much of the restrictions continued.

For Jen, the experiment was about simplifying her life for God’s glory. “While my stuff is decreasing, what matters is increasing in equal measure.” She discovered that she can fast from clothes and waste and spending much easier than she can fast from busyness (social media, and all the other tugs on our time that we feel), and this was huge to me and I could relate on many levels. While our calendars are sometimes bursting (there are two weeks in June that I am particularly dreading, for example), I schedule “do nothing” days with just as much urgency.

Because we need those “do nothing” days just as much, if not more, than anything else.

Jen realized that her heart craved a slower life, and that spoke volumes to me and the intent I have with how the kids and I spend our time. While we may have an occasional adventure, we treasure an afternoon at the creek skipping rocks just as much.

Sometimes you need a reminder to stop to take a breath and really bask in your blessings, and this book was a great reminder of that.

I definitely recommend it.

*This is the 8th book I’ve read in my quest to read 52 books this year.
1. Believe It, Be It
2. Touch and Go
3. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
4. Here I Go Again
5. Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture
6. Drinking & Tweeting and Other Brandi Blunders
7. Cleaving

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