I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, so my book recommendations for the next few months will likely reflect that. But never fear: I’ll have some more fiction to pass along soon.
As we start getting into the thick of the holiday season, I thought Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus—known as the Minimalists throughout their books, podcasts, social media, and more—would be a great book pick for this month.
The holidays seem to get more commercialized every year, especially Christmas. Each December, we burden ourselves, our loved ones, and even the people we barely know with stuff and more stuff. And often, it’s not even stuff any of us want. We just feel obligated to give everyone something.
While I’m by no means a hardcore minimalist, I’ve found some great insights and wisdom in this book and hope you can find value in it, too.
Who are the Minimalists?
The Minimalists consists of Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, who have been teaching people how to live fuller, more meaningful lives with less stuff.
The essence of their message is about deciding what’s really important in our lives and letting go of all of the excess that distracts us from living up to our values and having the lives we truly want.
What I Like about the Book
First of all, I have to mention my appreciation for the message about taking an honest look at our lives and learning to let go of the things we think we need but that are actually holding us back from true happiness. How much of our money, time, and even physical and mental space do we sacrifice to what advertisers and culture tell us we have to have to be happy?
Do I really need that giant flat-screen TV? How much of my living room or bedroom does it take up? What else could I have done with the money I spent on it? Am I fulfilled or actually depressed after sitting in front of it for hours, binging the latest Netflix series? Who or what am I ignoring in order to watch it? What could I accomplish if it weren’t sucking up my time, energy, and attention? How much more meaningful could my life and relationships be without it?
And that’s only one example. Compared to a lot of Americans, I don’t actually have that much stuff, but since reading the book, I’ve been looking around at my life and realizing just how much of my stuff I don’t actually care about but just keep around in case I might someday need or want it. I’m also realizing how much more freely I breathe with more simplicity and space in my home.
And that’s the main value of the book. No one can dictate what your life should look like, but something that makes you think and reevaluate your life and choices can be a valuable resource.
The second thing I like about the book is its simplicity. It’s a pretty fast read at less than 150 pages, and the writing is relatable and straightforward.
What’s Not to Like
Like I said, it’s a fairly slim volume, so it’s not an exhaustive how-to for changing your life. It’s more of an introduction to a new way of thinking about and structuring your life. It’s a great starting point, but if you’re looking for something more in depth, they have more content in other books, podcasts, social media, and even documentaries. And there are other people writing and talking about this subject.
Also, Millburn does most of the writing, and he’s quite fond of vocabulary. At first, I was a bit put off by his use of “fifty-cent” words. It can come across as arrogant or like he’s trying to prove how smart he is. However, after listening to some of their podcasts and consuming more of their content, I’ve come to the conclusion that he just likes learning and using new words. And that can actually be a plus for readers. By reading new words, we learn new words.
Where to Find the Book
You can find the book most places good books are sold. I got the copy I read through interlibrary loan. They have all of their books listed on their website with links for purchasing through Amazon.
You can also access their other content through their website.
Millburn, Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus. Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life. Missoula, Montana: Asymmetrical Press, 2016.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.