Book Review · Hot Tea Reads · Self Help · thoughts

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

81Vm2dmzI4L._AC_UL436_Happy New Year Everyone!

Just in time for all of our New Year Resolutions, I just finished the latest offering by Joshua Becker, the Minimalist guru from the blog Becoming Minimalist.  The Minimalist Home is Becker’s 4th book and continues his life’s work to inspire minimalism in the face of today’s rabid over-consumption.  This is by far Becker’s best writing. In the same way his blog posts have developed from personal musings to beautiful inspirations, The Minimalist Home is cleaner, stronger and more genuine than his previous works.  

Utilizing the floor plan of his flagship course, Uncluttered, Becker takes readers room-by-room in a whole house decluttering process.  Unlike other decluttering or minimalist books, Becker focuses on the WHY. Inspirational stories line each chapter, citing minimalism for positive changes in finances, mental well being, relationships and decreasing stress.  Becker also stresses against the idea that minimalists own absolutely nothing or live in snooty modern art-deco apartments full of white square furniture. His brand of minimalism feels authentic and attainable, a returning to our roots of sorts, rather than a total life overhaul.  

Readers who’ve taken Becker’s Uncluttered course may find the material rehashed in The Minimalist Home, albeit in a cleaner, stronger format.  Regardless, the material is a great refresher and this minimalist wannabe (and former Uncluttered participant) found great inspiration in The Minimalist Home.  My particular favorite and most needed chapters were those focused on the garage/yard and arts/crafts, categories not covered thoroughly in the Uncluttered Course.

One of the surprising take-aways in The Minimalist Home was the gentleness in which Becker approaches saying goodbye and letting go of our idealized selves.  Many of us purchase, keep or collect things because of who we want(ed) to be, rather than who we are. By letting go of these idealized self purchases, we can make room for our true selves to grow, bring light or happiness into other people’s lives or just make room to breathe without the imposed expectations (or perceived failures) looming over us in every nook and cranny.  

Becker also gently approaches the various stages in life that require different decluttering processes; new babies, multiple kids, empty nesting.  It’s this gentle approach of moderation and understanding as well as his standard “less doesn’t mean none” that I believe makes Becker’s message palatable to the masses.  He’s not asking you to give up everything and live uncomfortable and unhappily out of a backpack for the sake of minimalism. He’s asking you to take a look at your current self and who you’d like to be and then removing any physical barriers, literally, that impede you from being your best self.

All in all, this book is a quick and enjoyable read.  Ironically, the only part of The Minimalist Home that I did not enjoy was the “tweetable” boxed sections.  For an author and a book that focuses on developing an Iconic Style rather than falling prey to Fast Fashion, the tweet boxes feel a little out of place and will, in my opinion, date the book.  

I highly recommend The Minimalist Home, particularly for folks looking to create a calm peaceful home environment for themselves, their spouses, their children, their guests or even their pets.  I’ve followed the author’s blog for years now and have dutifully read each of his books and taken his course. His message resounds strongly in my soul and I have made many many big changes to my own consumption habits (including a mindful reduction in plastic consumption and mindful gift giving) because of his writing.

Happy New Year, Happy Reading and Cheers!

-R

 

Hot Chocolate Reads · Hot Tea Reads · library

Love letter to the library

Libraries have always been my favorite places.  They’re always cozy, warm, welcoming, and quiet.  You can’t help but feel smarter when you walk into a library.  There’s just something inspiring about those huge wooden book cases packed neatly with rows and rows of books and the quiet calm voices people only use at the library, the smell of old musty paper and the sun shining into the room in big strips.  Entering a library is like coming home after a long walk in the snow.

One of my first vivid childhood memories is a trip to the library.  I was about five years old and excited beyond words by all of the books.  I wanted them all.  After stacking a precarious pile on the counter, the librarian gently explained the ten book limit on children’s checkouts and helped me narrow down my selection.  It was so disappointing, but she did give me my own library card and let me sign the back by myself while explaining I could come back to the library anytime.  That library card became my ticket to freedom and I spent my entire childhood trying to read through the entire library.  In high school, the library become a den of calm and quiet in my overactive adolescence.  I remember seeking out the farthest corner on the top floor, laying on the floor between two giant book cases, positioned like sentinels, as I fell into a world of mystery, romance, religion, and intrigue.  At 17, I designed my first tattoo while seated Indian style on the floor in my favorite row, merging a compilation of designs found in a book on ancient written languages.  In college, the library became a quiet witness to my struggles with certain courses, the late night study sessions and the occasional naps and breakdowns between the pages of textbooks.  The library was the first to know I was in love, the first to know I’d failed an exam, the first time I’d experienced a poetry reading or stopped to really look at a painting as something more than just a pretty picture.

After moving 1200 miles away from home, the library became the first destination I could drive to without referencing handwritten directions.  With my first baby, when I knew nothing and felt deeply terrifyingly alone, the library was there like an old mother hen, welcoming us with the silly songs and stories every week at story hour.  The library, and its endless supply of books, is an old friend in an apron and floured hands, pulling cookies from the oven.

This then, is my love letter to the library and all of the wonderful books within.