Sunday, February 28, 2021

Books on Minimalism & Mindfulness: Part 1

I try to revisit a couple of books on minimalism every year. Rereading a book or two, or all of them, in this category will generally help me renew my purpose. I haven't reviewed a book since grad school, which I left in 2016 to advance my career in IT. Having had this blog for over a year now (despite not posting for a while after changing jobs) I feel it's time to finally actually review some of the books that helped me become the minimalist I am today.

Review 1: New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living
ISBN: 978-1-63217-132-0
Authors: Cary Telander Fortin & Kyle Louise Quilici

I'll be honest and say I don't remember when I bought this book, only that I bought it with the intention of using it to help me design my house around minimalist tendencies. Rereading it this year, it felt more suited to those new to minimalism. It's absolutely great for helping you find a jumping-off point from which you can dive into minimalism. It breaks folx down into four personality types that have their own unique hangups when it comes to decluttering and discarding items. The authors cover common points of failure at the start of minimalist journeys--from discarding too little with the "one in, one out" method, to being too reluctant to part with items when moving in with a partner and being left with too many of each item. They also hit on something I think is especially important: letting each room serve a single purpose. Of course, that's not always possible in small apartments, tiny houses, or family homes, but it's important all the same to let rooms like the kitchen be just a kitchen and the bedroom be just a bedroom. There are also tips on design and decoration for a house that can be magazine-worthy but still feel 100% like home. A minimalist's home still needs personality, and this book can help beginner- and intermediate-level minimalists figure out how to achieve a comfy and clutter-free space.

I didn't get as much out of this book on a reread as I did the first time I read it, but all the same I would highly recommend it to anyone just getting started with minimalism.

Review 2: The Year of Less: How I stopped shopping, gave away my belongings, and discovered life is worth more than anything you can buy in a store
ISBN: 978-1-4019-5351-5
Author: Cait Flanders

It's hard to pass up a book with an actual timeline of how and when habits changed. While the author's goal was not to become a minimalist, but to spend less/save more money, it's still a good read for any minimalist. Rampant consumerism is confronted on a very personal, intimate level. Cait is open and candid about where she came from, how she started, and at which points she experienced failure in following her own plan to live better. While few of the chapters cover decluttering efforts, as a reader I find it helpful to hear about a real person's experience--not just a social-media-worthy, curated snapshot of life. Addiction and breaking bad habits are central focus points for the book, which might especially help budding minimalists understand how they can sever ties with habits that are very non-minimalist. The book follows Cait as she claims her life and her time for herself, instead of living for the material things and materialistic people around her. We all have things we want to change about ourselves, and this inspiring book may well be life-changing for the right reader.

I'm glad I reread this book, as it opened my eyes again to just how many things I still have (including bad habits) even after years of minimalist practice. I recommend it to any minimalist, especially those with bad habits they know they need to break.


I'll have more book reviews coming up as I take time to re-read those still in my little library at home. If you're interested in buying one of the books I review, please consider supporting the author directly where possible, or supporting a smaller bookstore. Happy reading!

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