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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Dee Williams Narrator: Heather Henderso Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A graceful, inspired memoir about building a home from scratch and discovering a true sense of self—in just eighty-four square feet—by Dee Williams, a pioneer in sustainable living and the proud owner of a very tiny house

After a heart condition felled Dee Williams in the grocery store ten years ago, she initially threw herself headfirst back into her old life, which included a pricey three-bedroom house, overtime hours to cover homeowner bills, and a general lack of free time. In the midst of contemplating her future, a new sense of clarity took hold. What was all this stuff for? Mortgage payments and the time-suck of homeownership felt like a waste, and no one has the money or desire to pack it in and live on an island without family, friends, or health insurance.

Discovering the sustainability movement and building her own house was just the beginning of building a new life. Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her ten minutes to clean the entire house. It’s allowed her to slow down, scale back, spend more time with family and friends—and given her the freedom to head out for adventure, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch. Without escaping to the wilds or going off the grid, Williams achieved a happy balance of the normal and the radical and created a new model for simple, practical living.

Part how-to and part why-to, The Big Tiny is not just a memoir of that “aha” moment posttrauma but an utterly seductive meditation on what it means to build the good life and the right life, every day.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Visitors to [Dee Williams’] property may be forgiven for thinking someone had taken up residence in a beautifully built pine-and-cedar toolshed out back….[An] affecting memoir…she writes in The Big Tiny of finding a centeredness and peace in her little house, of being less fearful, more alive. Some of the best passages are when she describes the sensory experience of being inside: smelling raw cedar and knotty pine; listening to the weather.”

    New York Times

  • “Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings has been hailed as a tiny house pioneer, having lived large in her very small home since 2004. In The Big Tiny, she explains why she did it, how she built the house from scratch, and what it’s like living inside her eighty-four-square-foot dream mansion. Editor's recommendation.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “[N]o one makes the idea of living in a home the size of an area rug more appealing than Dee Williams…Williams’ inspiring memoir will resonate with anyone on a quest to downsize, de-stress, let go, or feel at home…an endearing, funny writer…[The Big Tiny] is a book as intimate and draw-you-in-close as Williams’ little abode. She reveals her fear and fearlessness, allowing readers to feel like visitors across her tiny table, knees touching, her dog by your side.”


  • “Heather Henderson is the perfect narrator for this memoir of starting over and staying small…Henderson narrates this story, which is part life story and part how-to, in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner, much in the way Williams describes herself. The sections, which alternate between the past and present, flow together easily, and the narration truly draws the listener into the story.”


  • “Williams explains that she was driven by a need to build a home and to be at home ‘in the world and in my body’…Here Williams has built an engaging and inspiring how-to/memoir that goes beyond the DIY perspective.”


  • “His was 150 square feet and hers was 84, but Henry David Thoreau and newcomer Williams find significant common ground in their little abodes. Though Thoreau didn’t spend a lot of time regaling us about living in his cabin by Walden, and Williams spends a great deal of time describing living in hers, they shared the same desire: to pare down their lives. ‘I imagined,’ she writes, ‘I'd learn something about myself by stripping down to the basics—by living with two dinner plates, three spoons, two pairs of pants, a dress, and my wool skivvies’…She chronicles how she found ancient planks of wood to use as siding, learned how to use her eyes and intuition when building, joined the ‘flannel shirt club’ and became an all-around do-it-yourself builder…A lightweight curiosity that will find sympathy with readers frustrated with the conventional rat race.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “In The Big Tiny, Dee Williams creates a portrait of humanity through her own compelling experience. That she has written about home and life with such humor and vulnerability, and in her own unique vernacular, makes her story all the more universal.”

    Jay Shafer, author of The Small House Book

  • “Dee Williams aims for happiness 85 percent of the time, but I think you’ll be 100 percent happy with the wisdom she shares in this beautiful book.”

    Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup

  • The Big Tiny is irresistible. Dee Williams is as much fun on the page as she is in person. Comic, silly, and soulful, she takes us on her journey to simplify her life and along the way tunes in to our own inner desire to pare down to our nearly naked selves.”

    Jim Lynch, author of The Highest Tide

  • The Big Tiny is a beautifully written narrative, one that goes beyond happiness and living simply. The power of Dee’s words will touch your heart, make you laugh, cry, and change your life.”

    Tammy Strobel, author of You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)

  • A Barnes & Noble Editor’s Recommendation
  • An Audible.com Bestseller
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About the Author

Dee Williams is a teacher and sustainability advocate. She is the co-owner of Portland Alternative Dwellings (www.padtinyhouses.com), where she leads workshops focused on tiny houses, green building, and community design. Her story has been featured on Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News, and on NPR, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, and CBC. She has also been profiled or featured in hundreds of online blogs and articles, and in print media including Time, the New York Times, and Der Spiegel. Williams lives in Olympia, Washington, with an overly ambitious Australian shepherd, in the shadow of the house of dear friends.