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Editorial Reviews

Review

Wabi-sabi is about appreciating the simple and letting go of the superficial – the perfect antidote for a society in recovery from a decades-long consumerist binge. In 2004 The Wabi-Sabi House helped popularize this ancient Japanese philosophy in North America. Simply Imperfect is a fully revised and updated edition of The Wabi-Sabi House, aimed at moving past our belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of stuff to finding beauty in austerity, serenity and authenticity.

Far more than home décor, wabi-sabi is a state of mind: living modestly in the moment, stripping away the unnecessary, finding satisfaction in everyday things. Simply Imperfect recounts wabi-sabi's rich history, tracing it from its Zen Buddhist roots through to the present day. This beautifully-illustrated book reveals ways to introduce wabi-sabi into your homesuch as:

  • Clearing clutter and blocking noise
  • Integrating salvaged and recycled materials
  • Making and growing things yourself (or supporting local artisans who do)
  • Taking time and space for self-reflection.

Wabi-sabi is everything that today's sleek, plastic, technology-saturated culture isn't. Simply Imperfect asks readers to see that mass-produced perfection is seductive but boring. This gentle book is for anyone who is overwhelmed by consumerism or whose focus hasshifted from getting more to getting by.

About the Author

Robyn Griggs Lawrence is editor in chief of Natural Home magazine (www.NaturalHomeMagazine.com) and a prolific writer and speaker on topics ranging from green building and ecological design to organic gardening. A passionate expert on developing living spaces that are light on the land, Lawrence has been described as “one of the best-informed advocates of natural living in America”. She has been instrumental in introducing the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi to a Western audience.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; Apparent First Edition edition (May 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As the editor-in-chief of Natural Home magazine from 1999 until 2010, ROBYN GRIGGS LAWRENCE introduced mainstream readers to green homes and lifestyles. A fierce and longtime proponent of healthy, natural living, Lawrence has been an editor with Mother Earth News, Organic Spa, Mountain Living and The Herb Companion magazines and has run successful blogs on Huffington Post, Care2.com and Motherearthnews.com.

A member of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems Board of Directors and an advisory board member for the Healthy House Institute, Lawrence has been featured in USA Today, on CNN and in top-tier newspapers, magazines and TV programs worldwide. The Conservation Research Institute describes her as "one of the best-informed advocates of natural living in America."

Lawrence's 2004 book, The Wabi-Sabi House, which introduced Americans to the 15th-century Japanese philosophy of simplicity, serenity and authenticity, received critical acclaim in Time magazine and The New York Times. A revised and updated edition was released in paperback as Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House. Lawrence co-authored 7 Steps to a Safe, Nurturing Nursery, an e-book, with integrative health expert Dr. Frank Lipman, M.D.

Lawrence, a longtime yogi and yoga teacher, lives in Boulder, Colorado. Learn more at www.robyngriggslawrence.com

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By JJ on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently learned about this book by reading Robyn Lawrence's online column: Wabi-Sabi Wednesdays in Mother Earth News. I loved the column and bought the book. If you're interested in buying this book, and want to learn more about the content, I recommend you check out her column for some excerpts.

The book starts off with an exploration and discovery of wabi-sabi in existing environments, then it moves into the history and philosophy of the wabi-sabi, the aesthetics, and the cultivation of a wabi-sabi lifestyle. One chapter, about 1/2 way through, is dedicated to reducing clutter and creating space for wabi-sabi. I found this section to be a great reminder that many of us have a difficult time with ideas like wabi-sabi because we have too much to do, we're too distracted, and we live in a cluttered world.

Ironically, I found the layout of the book to distract from the content. The main text is frequently interrupted with anecdotes, images, examples, and lists that often span more than one page and repeatedly disrupt the flow of the chapter. These disruptions become longer and more frequent as you move into the body of the book. Eventually, it feels like the anecdotes are competing with the main text, causing the reader to feel like they are being constantly interrupted by the kid with all the answers.

This is a good DIY book for creative people looking for ideas and inspiration, but not a book I'd recommend for an introspective study of wabi-sabi.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Allyson Speake on December 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
After reading (and saving) an article in my Mother Earth News magazine for many months, both myself and my mother ordered this book for ourselves and as a gift for a good friend. We were so looking forward to reading more about Wabi Sabi and looking at the simple photography throughout the book. We were very disappointed that all of the photos in this book were black-and-white (which made it difficult to see the detail of rust, use, and love.) I believe it would have been much more effective had the book had colored photos throughout.
It is a good read, but don't expect beautiful colored photos like the one on the cover!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Harmony on December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book cover to cover on an airplane ride from colorado to california. The philosophy and approach to living in balance was a breath of fresh air. It takes the approach of thoughtful living rather than wasteful living. In a society that has for years been about NEW and disposable this book reminds us that OLD and weathered with experience is something to be treasured and can't be bought.

Yes, as one of the other reviewers notes the photos are in black and white (well more of a sepia tint) which for me worked. It forced me to really look at the photos.... to slow down and experience them since they aren't as visually stimulating on the surface but if you look closely they are truly beautiful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Earth Witch on December 28, 2013
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I've studied Wabi-Sabi on a serious level and I find it ironic that a book about Wabi-Sabi gives you shopping and home decorating advice. Granted, it's a tough concept to really grasp, but when it gets boiled down to picking out the proper knick-knacks and flooring you sort of the lose the point. On a more positive note, I think Ms. Lawrence might inspire some her readers to take it to the next level and discover the philosophy is much deeper than nicely repaired tea bowls and rusty artifacts to hang on the wall. I would suggest the reader think of this book as Wabi-Sabi 1.0 and take it from there, if so inspired.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan M. Fireside on October 6, 2011
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I absolutely loved this book. It really explains the idea and philosophy of wabi-sabi. This isn't a photo book. It's more about understanding what makes a home (and life) a particular way. By the end I wished this coffee lover would start drinking tea. The beauty and ritual of serving it seems so lovely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail Gates on September 4, 2014
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As a middle-aged woman, I'm fighting the notion I have to be as perfect as possible. Our American culture airbrushes away any blemish, wrinkle, or curve a woman earns as she lives her life. This book was a great reminder that imperfection has a beauty all its own. I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By joan lorenz on April 28, 2013
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I found this book on the communal "reading while you visit' book shelf at Rancho Margot, Costa Rica and leafed through it - reading some parts - savoring others. I just knew I had to have it: and one for my dad who has always been wabi sabi - and one for my friend Anne - and one for my Tai Chi master brother-in-law. Great book. Just had to have it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jerrelyn n. brain on April 16, 2013
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this book was my introduction to wabi sabi... and it's perfect... easy reading, entertaining, and most of all, informative... i just love this book... i've taken my time to read this to get the most out of it... it's help guide me to a simplier life, and i appreciate that... anyone wanting to know more about this subject, get this book...
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