What is the opposite of a minimalist? That question has come up for me off and on as I’ve read books about doing less and owning less the past few years. After reading these books, I know I’m not quite a minimalist. But I’m not a conspicuous consumer either.
I am a moderationist. It isn’t a term I’ve seen (yet), but I think it fits. I still love reading about minimalism, doing less, and living more simply. I want to share some of my favorite books on the topic. “You are the company you keep,” keeps floating through my brain as I consider the ways reading so much about minimalism affects how I live. If you’re looking to surround yourself with positive influences in the form of a reading list, I hope you’ll add some of these to yours.
Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life by Brooke McAlary
This is a quick read. It’s all about slowing down and recognizing that many of us are doing too much and feeling too stressed to enjoy life and simple pleasures. There are tips for minimizing daily stress and finding moments to make life easier. It’s a beautiful, short book that I loved so much I immediately purchased Brooke’s other book Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World. I haven’t started it yet but I’m looking forward to it.
Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames
This is the charming and inspiring true story of how Elizabeth and Nate managed to create a meaningful and frugal lifestyle for themselves after realizing that the consumerist life wasn’t for them. If you think you’re frugal, you probably still have a lot to learn from the Frugalwoods. My only regret is that this book wasn’t around when I was in my early 20s.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Here’s one you’ve quite possibly already read or at least heard of, but it’s worth reading. Jen’s writing style is fun and relatable. She will get you thinking hard about what all those options in your closet, pantry, wallet, etc. are really doing for (and to) you. She spends 30 days on each of seven topics and shares her successes and struggles along the way.
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 by Cait Flanders
The title is long but the message is clear: you can do a lot more with a lot less. Your stuff is holding you back. Cait is raw and honest about her struggles and how she got rid of her consumer debt and realized that happiness was never going to come from a shopping trip. She challenged herself to not shop for an entire year. Kind of makes your no-spend month not seem so tough, doesn’t it?
Lightly: How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-free Life by Francine Jay
Lightly takes minimalism beyond the stuff and gets deeper into everyday life. It’s the author’s mantra. The message is all about living more lightly with your stuff, your step, your stress and your spirit. This is less of a guide with specific steps and more about getting your mindset ready for living more lightly.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
I had a few friends repeatedly recommend this to me, and I finally got around to reading it last year. It’s an excellent read for those of us who have a tendency to stretch ourselves thin, especially in the workplace and in our volunteer work. I found that much of the author’s guidance on paring down to the essential applies in every area of life. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years.
When Less Becomes More by Emily Ley
I was well into this book before I realized that the author is the founder of Simplified. This book helps readers consider patterns in their lives that aren’t serving them and ways to break those patterns. She wants readers to do less of what leaves us empty and more of what fills us up.
Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki
Amazon and Audible started recommending this book to me after I read a few other books on minimalism and I’m so glad I decided to read it. This is one of the dryer reads on my list, but it has some very sweet moments. And it’s a great read, if true minimalist living is your goal. The author details the effects of minimalism on him in his personal experience. The print version includes illustrations. I listened to the audiobook, but I think the print version is probably the way to go.
The Minimalist Way: Minimalism Strategies to Declutter Your Life and Make Room for Joy by Erica Layne
If you’re more interested in practical strategies for applying minimalism to your home, work, and personal life, this is the book to read. After reading this one, I noticed a clear change in my shopping habits. It is a lot easier for me to appreciate something but have no desire to purchase it. It’s also a lot easier for me to spend my time and energy in ways that minimize my stress. This one is a game-changer.
Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Ambitious Women by Kate Northrup
This particular book is more focused on women and mothers (especially working mothers) than any of the others I’ve included in my list. There’s a lot to unpack with this one, but it focuses quite a bit on living in tune with the cyclical nature of the feminine (yes, that cycle). I’ll be honest, I never even thought about trying to schedule my plans, projects, etc. around that. It’s so interesting to read about how life-changing it can be to stop trying to force ourselves to constantly perform at 110% and to stop valuing ourselves and each other based on productivity. The promise is that we will learn to have and be more through doing less.
Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter
Full disclosure: I haven’t finished this one as of this writing. But the book is so good, I’m recommending it anyway. If you have ever had to clean out the home of a loved one after they die or wondered what will become of all the things you’re hanging onto in boxes crammed into the back of closets or in attics and basements, this is one to read. You will be motivated to downsize and declutter before you’re even halfway through the book.