Books have been a key motivator and resource in my journey towards simplicity and minimalism. I did not have any mentor or friends who were on a similar journey and books on simplicity and minimalism and the authors who wrote them served as my inspiration and opened up links to ideas and like-minded people. Below are ten of my favourite books on simplicity and minimalism- the list is certainly not exhaustive as I’ve read many more good books on the subject. The editing of titles to pick out the ten has not been easy, and I had to keep reminding myself that the process of evaluating and selecting is one of the building blocks for simplifying one’s life and belongings.
- Minimalism & Simplicity Essays by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (a.k.a The Minimalists)
The Minimalists were the ones who really inspired and fired up my decision to take simple living and minimalism seriously as a lifestyle. I guess it was because I shared quite a lot in common with them: left a lucrative career (they also worked in the telecoms industry), decluttered many of my material possessions and started focusing on life’s most important aspects in order to live more meaningfully and passionately. Their two-book essay collections contain very personal, compelling and incisive short essays on why and how they embraced minimalism and what they learned along the journey. They have also written two other books on the subject- all just as inspiring. Read more about their books here.
- The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
This book by Leo, the creator behind Zen Habits- one of the world’s most popular blogs, introduced me to the idea of simple living. It consists of 6 essential productivity principles that will change your life. These principles are put into practice in short and simple chapters pertaining to goals and projects, time management, commitments, daily routines etc. This book serves as a good introduction to simplifying one’s life and taking easy practical steps to making it a success. Find out more.
- The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
I needed to find out more about minimalist living after devouring Leo’s book and The Joy of Less- a minimalist living guide was just the book for me. In it, Francine or Miss Minimalist provided loads of inspiration and ideas to embrace minimalist living. I love the way she summarized the process through STREAMLINE:
S: Start over
T: Trash, Treasure, Transfer
R: Reasons for keeping each item
E: Everything (kept/stored) in its place
A: All surfaces clear
M: Modules (for organizing and storage)
L: Limits (no. of each item owned)
I: If one comes in , one goes out
N: Narrow it down
E: Everyday maintenance
- Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin
I consider this book to be the bible of Simple Living and a brave example of non-conformist thinking. It was first published in 1981 when pursuing and living the American dream and Consumerism were key building blocks of success and the good life. It emphasized that voluntary simplicity is not about living in poverty (that is mostly involuntary!); but about living in balance- making adjustments in everyday living to bring about a positive response to the environment, consumption and personal growth. Read more about the book here.
- Your Money of Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominquez
One of the most common questions or concerns raised about pursuing a simple life and pursuing your passions (which mostly entails quitting your much-hated day job in cubical nation) is ‘ So what do we do about the money?’ Your Money or Your Life is a good follow- up to Voluntary Simplicity and it will hopefully answer our financial concerns with the 9 Steps to transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence.
- Choosing Simplicity by Linda Breen Pierce
In our journey towards simple living and minimalism, we tend to crave for the experiences and support from people on a similar quest. Choosing Simplicity is about real people from all stations and walks of life finding peace and fulfillment in a complex world. Pierce is the founder of The Pierce Simplicity Study, a three-year study of 211 people who simplified their lives and she complied their stories into this very personal and insightful book.
- Less is More by Cecile Andrews & Wanda Urbanska
This is a compelling collection by people who have been writing about simplicity for decades. Through their words, they bring to life a vision of Less: less stuff, less work, less stress, less debt. Which in turn offers a life of More: more time, more satisfaction, more freedom, more joy. This book is not just about just how simplicity brings benefits to individuals, but also to the wider community, economy and environment.
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
One finds it quite hard to write a list of books on simple living and minimalism without including Walden by Henry David Thoreau. This famous piece of work is not the easiest to read but it offers great nuggets of wisdom and observation which has inspired many to ‘go into the woods.’ Such as the following:
I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived.
Simplify, simplify, simplify!
- Timeless Simplicity by John Lane
John Lane is a painter, writer and educator is well-positioned to share his thoughts on creative living in a consumer society. He shares the advantages of living a less cluttered, stressful life in the mostly overcrowded and manic-paced consuming environments many of us find ourselves in. It is about having less and enjoying more- more time to spend with loved ones, to pursue creative projects, enjoying more time for good eating and enjoying time just to be. It is also about the bigger picture of adopting a more frugal lifestyle to sustain the viability of our planet. Thoughtful piece of work.
We can end up so busy with work, people, things and even simplifying our life that we neglect the little things that make life worth living. Simple Pleasures serves to remind us of these little unconsidered things by sharing what gives pleasure to writers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Alain de Bottom and Sebastian Faulks amongst many others. Their pleasures are not derived from ultra-sophisticated , expensive or complex situations but from the simple reality of everyday tasks (like a hot bath) nature, architecture, the view, the garden or family and friends enjoying time together.
What are the books that most inspired you on the road towards simple living and minimalism?