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The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living Paperback – November 3, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Janet Luhrs provides a thoughtful and practical guide to simplifying our busy lives. Luhrs stresses that living simply is not about being frugal, living on a tight budget, or a modest income. Rather, living simply is being fully aware of what you're doing and why you're doing it. Luhrs demonstrates through many real-life examples how you can redesign your life and learn to savor every moment.

From Library Journal

Editor and publisher of the Simple Living Journal, Luhrs has collated a valuable, comprehensive sourcebook of practical wisdom and inspiration for paring down life in order to live it to the fullest. Issues such as money, housing, work, health, nutrition, and travel are explored with a goal of "voluntary simplicity," favoring deliberate life choices over blind consumption and compulsion. A well-balanced combination of philosophical reflection, real-life anecdotes, practical strategies, and annotated reading lists make this a good addition for most public libraries.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553067966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553067965
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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121 of 123 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this wonderful, inspiring book, Janet Luhrs provides myriad ideas for and insight into how simplifying your life can help you shift gears or even start over from scratch. The book offers loads of practical advice about how to implement changes in your life and escape the cycle of work, consumption, debt, and stress.
The author states at the outset that the book provides a variety of options for those interested in simplifying. Some of these options--like living off the grid or on a boat--will appeal to only a small number of people. However, the great stories from real people's lives do make you think about your job, house, and possessions and how you could streamline. Most of the suggestions (e.g., improving eating and exercising habits and better managing money and time) can be implemented by anyone.
I recently read Elaine St. James's Living the Simple Life and found it wanting and often impractical--foregoing sunglasses and wearing only three colors of clothing are not helpful suggestions to me! This book also focuses solely on the changes St. James and her husband made, with little mention of the wide spectrum of alternative approaches.
Luhrs's book differs by providing a vast array of resources, in addition to using life stories to outline approaches that folks have successfully employed to create more time, less stress, and more joy in their lives.
Buy this book and take from it the inspiration to help you realize who you really are!
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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful By StalkingGhostBear on October 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
We dream of a good life, one that is not cluttered by mounting stress, by deadlines, by worries about money. We dream of a more fulfilling way to live. Unfortunately simple living is an art that one probably never truly achieves, but I think journey is far more important than the goal itself. "The Simple Living Guide" is a guide to beginning your own journey to a simpler and more fulfilling life. While the book can be read as a whole, cover to cover, it seems to read best when broken down into its individual chapters. The reader is invited to begin their process of simplification where and when they are ready leaving other area for later. I began my journey three years ago dealing with the clutter that I, and so many other Americans, gather around ourselves for no other reason than it is expected to have more than we need. Cleaning and exorcising my home of useless kitchen appliances, clothes I could no longer wear, and knick knacks pretending to be works of art was a painful process but one made easier by Ms. Luhrs book. Cleaning out my home led me to simplify my budget, and then to simplify my leisure activities, and most recently to simplify my career.
Ms. Luhrs presents us with the fact that simplifying is a process. One cannot just simplify one area of life and call it good. Every time you change and improve one area it radiates and effects every other area of your life. For example once you start simplifying your budget to save money it leads you to question how you spend your time, where you live, your quality of life, even the birthday gifts you give.
The entire book is written in a warm, personal manner, often if feels as if one is having a conversation with the author rather than reading text.
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111 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Lore on July 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Janet Luhrs brings her experience as the editor of Simple Living: The Journal of Voluntary Simplicity to the Simple Living Guide. Over 400 pages, this compendium of ideas for "less stressful, more joyful living" is heavy on the many philosophical ideas that fall under the simple living umbrella. In 14 topical chapters ranging from Money to Virtues Luhrs balances her occasionally redundant reflections with sidebars highlighting case studies, offering tips, and providing the nuts & bolts how-to's. Some of these are tremendously helpful and/or interesting. For example, in the chapter on Simple Pleasures and Romance, there is an article by Kirk S. Nevin about his family's decision to live without electricity or plumbing; and the chapter on Inner Simplicity includes a very practical article on dealing with insomnia.
Other sidebars are less helpful, more a mish-mash of 12-step generalisms, such as Luhrs' list of the 28 secrets to happiness, including "get organized," "be humble" and "learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present".
My two primary criticisms are that most of the ideas in this book are available elsewhere (see The Tightwad Gazette or Your Money or Your Life) and that some ideas aren't included. There is almost nothing here about permaculture, for example, and very little attempt at introducing serious or radical sustainability.
This book is a great primer for people who may have never encountered simple living philosophies before; however, those steeped in an already-intentional lifestyle will find little here that is new.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth VINE VOICE on August 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am in my mid-twenties and a graduate student. I have, for a very long time, wanted to save more money and live a life that is less driven by getting things done and one that is more focused on living life right now and enjoying those things that are important to me. I think a lot of time the right book comes along at the right time in our lives, and for me, this book was it. It provides lots of ideas - some about being just a little more simple and some that are about pretty drastic changes. Another reviewer is right that this is not likely a book that people who want to live very radically simple lives would find valuable. This is for folks who still want electricity, maybe a car, some nice "things," and so on. I found it very readable with lots of ideas, and also a very exciting philosophy - driving home the idea that we lose sight of the point of life - that for most people, it doesn't make sense to work a lot, to get lots of money, to get a bigger house and lots of stuff. Rather, we can be more content (and have a lighter environmental impact) by working only as much as we need to in order to meet the needs that are basic and the needs that are most important to us. Thus, if having a nice car is important, save for that and cut down on expensive clothes. It encourages you to thin of life in terms of tradeoffs. If I work 50 hours a week, I can have a big house, but much less time to live in it or be with family. Is this worth it. It also helps to counter conventional wisdom about the kind of money it takes to live a "decent" life. It challenges assumptions and offers new way to think about things. The book did not come across as preachy to me. I think you can take from it what is helpful in your life - it is like a sourcebook or reference book. Take what works for you and leave the rest. I highly recommend it.
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