My interest in all things French got its start with Shannon Ables’ The Simple Sophisticate podcast. I’m always looking for new things to listen to while commuting or walking the dog, and I’d recently developed an interest in fashion and home decor. The Simple Sophisticate’s emphasis on living simply while still feeling elegant struck a chord as I — like so many others — am always balancing budget with material desires. Beginning with Episode 1, I proceeded to devour it. While not all the episodes were particularly interesting or relevant to me, the vast majority were entertaining, thought-provoking and filled with ideas to improve my life.
Learning there was a corresponding website, The Simply Luxurious Life, I commenced scouring it as well. I was particularly drawn to her Francophile section with its integration of French je ne sais quoi into every day life, revolving around the idea that living well does not necessitate living expensively.
When Ables released a book, Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide, of course I pre-ordered it immediately. I was not disappointed. While many of the same points and ideas are covered in her podcast and blog, the book condenses the same information into a cohesive and highly readable package.
From creating your own signature style and making your home a sanctuary to travel and entertaining, Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life guides the reader through not only the what and how, but the why. Why bother with a signature scent? Aren’t throw pillows frivolous? Isn’t travel self-indulgent? Ables answers these questions and more. Even finances are not off-limits with best practices for maintaining a healthy financial footing and a discussion of the benefits of doing so.
Ultimately where this book shines, though, is in the chapter “Simple Choices and Pleasures that Make a Difference”. Ables delves into more philosophical territory here: getting to know yourself, your strengths, your areas of opportunities. She posits:
“So much of attaining contentment is something we can’t purchase or cultivate quickly. Rather, it is spending time with ourselves, mastering our thoughts, and living with a purpose that speaks to our intrinsic being, a purpose that will be a foundation for true joy and fulfillment. “
The chapter is filled with advice and guidance on how we can truly get to know who we are, rather than who we think we ought to be based on society’s or our own expectations. And once you know yourself — your true thoughts, preferences, goals and dreams — you can begin to choose yourself. Not selfishly but in a way that allows you to become fully actualized and the best version of yourself that you can be.
In all, from the superficial to the deep and thought-provoking, I think Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life is well worth adding to your personal self-improvement library.
I’m also excited to note that on June 13, pre-ordering for Ables’ next book will be available. Watch her blog for the announcement!