“The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir” by Dee Williams

Dee Williams has been fascinated by building since childhood. In 2003 she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. As she rethought her life, she experienced a “clothespin moment.” As she contemplated one perfect clothespin, she envisioned its creation from tree through mill, from ore to wire, and finally to herself pinning clothes on the line. Within a month, she read an article about a tiny house. She thought of building a tiny home, eighty four square feet, thirteen and a half feet tall and eight and a half feet wide. But could she do it? She considered her health, her skills, her money, her time. And then she thought it would be the “greatest adventure a girl could have.” And that was that.

Consider contradiction and complication. Consider expansion and contraction. Consider contemplation and action. Consider a big house and a tiny life. Then consider a tiny house and a big life.

While Williams writes of building a tiny house, she also chronicles building a new life. First a home that fit her and then a life that fit her. Second a home where she fell asleep but did not sleep through her life. Third a home free of stuff but full of curiosity, simplicity, and vitality.

Thoreau advised one to “simplify, simplify” but cautioned one to do it their own way. Williams took his advice.

The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams (Blue Rider Press | ISBN 9780399166174 | April 22, 2014)

Joyce Suellentrop

Joyce is a retired humanities professor who has tried to simplify her life, but found it too complicated to do so. She would like to build a tiny house on a trailer but neither of her children will let her park on their property.