One of the most common questions I’m asked is what books I recommend to help people jump start their minimalist journey. I usually reply that there is a lot of great free web content and discussion groups on Facebook, but inevitably people want a book (or two or three) to get them going. In addition, sometimes it’s nice to read things the good old-fashioned way, that is, on paper instead of off a screen. On account of the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time in front of screens, so I really enjoy my time with a book in my hands. If you aren’t interested in buying books, the ones listed below should be available in local libraries (although they are popular, so there may be a waiting list).
So, if you want a few books to give you a dose inspiration, but also tried and true strategies to move you toward your minimalist goals then here are the ones I always recommend:
Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle
This book is a great mix of motivation and techniques. Boyle shares her personal story and strategies in a way that is humble, practical and inspiring. What I really like about Boyle is that, for her, minimalism is centred in sustainable living, so her strategies are mindful of how to discard things in a responsible way, where to source good quality ethical items (with lots of resources and references). It doesn’t hurt that the book is also beautiful and has gorgeous photography. This book will help anyone, but for sure it is great for parents and small space dwellers, especially. Buy the book here.
You’ve probably heard of this book and seen it in every book store and magazine shop around. It’s an international best seller and has been translated into dozens of languages. Overall, I like the book. For a book about organization it is written in a very compelling way, Kondo tells about her own organization struggles, shares life stories and examples from clients, which makes the book quite enjoyable to read. The book is motivating in the sense that Kondo really relays the benefits of having less and keeping our lives simplified in terms of material things. My main criticism of the book is that Kondo does not address how to discard things you no longer wish to keep in an environmentally-friendly way. She refers to the use of garbage bags quite often. Let’s hope she meant to imply that these garbage bags (filled with household and personal items) should be donated to charity organizations and shelters, or responsibly delivered to recycling facilities, because it would really be a shame if de-cluttering homes led to a massive growth in landfill. Buy the book here.
This follow up book to Life-Changing Magic (above) helps people understand what Kondo meant by her concept ‘sparks joy’, that is, how to figure out what gives us joy and how to apply this to de-cluttering. While I didn’t personally struggle with Kondo’s concept of ‘spark joy’ in her first book, it is a common complaint that people didn’t really know how to figure out what their own ‘spark joy’ felt like or was. The book also elaborates on techniques for discarding and organizing, focusing on different areas of the house and categories of things. The illustrations are both useful and beautiful. Buy the book here.
Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists
There are parts of this book that really made me roll my eyes, but at the end of the day the book is quite inspiring and is a worthwhile read. The book charts the journey from the high-powered corporate lives of two friends, marked by conspicuous consumption and crippling debt, to lives where the two chose to start over and pursue simplicity. The book effectively makes the case for why minimalism and simple living is a smart, healthy lifestyle choice. If you need motivation or want to motivate someone else this is a good book for that purpose (as a side note, if you are looking for a book that might motivate the male folk in your life, this is a good one). Buy the book here.
Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking, Discover New Habits by Joshua Becker
This is the book for people asking: How minimalism is possible with kids in the mix? Becker is a minimalism guru (with children) and has a gift for relaying the why and the how of minimalism in inspiring and understandable terms. The book offers strategies for de-cluttering with kids, by helping motivate kids and make them excited about minimalism. At its core, though, the book is about reframing our lives so that stuff is not at the centre; so that consumerism is not our tied to our identity. In doing so, family life is re-centred on experience and connection making it easy for everyone to buy into a life with less stuff. Buy the book here.
Another book for parents or parents-to-be, this book is not about de-cluttering things, so much as simplifying life by minimizing schedules, stuff, exposure to media and “adult” ideas, to help children and families thrive. This is really a book about simple, minimal lifestyle, from a holistic perspective, and will certainly inspire and motivate you to keep less stuff around, but the book takes a broader view than simply de-cluttering the home of material things; it is about the overall power of less. The book has been very popular, has a cult status in some parenting circles and has led to communities of interest worldwide. In my interviews with inspiring parents and minimalists, again and again they cite this book as influential in their life. Buy the book here.
If you are looking to minimize the amount of garbage you produce this book is for you. It is my go-to resource (I still refer to on a weekly basis), to solve zero waste challenges. The book makes a compelling case for us to consider seriously reducing the amount of garbage we make, but also provides practical tips on how to do so, covering all aspects of life and work in a way that is not intimidating. Buy the book here.
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