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The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul Paperback – December 28, 2010
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“Living simply is only an ideal until someone like Bruno gets particular. The way he got particular should make everyone think--hard, which is a very good thing.” (Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame)
“In a loving, wise, sometimes hilarious manner, Dave Bruno holds a mirror up to us and says to take a closer look at how we’re living. Reading this will lead you to a better life.” (Dean Nelson, Author of God Hides in Plain Sight and director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University)
“[Bruno’s] musings about his slow and steady purge have developed a cult following online, inspiring others [toward] clutter-free living.” (Time magazine)
From the Back Cover
An ordinary man's inspiring journey toward a simpler, more meaningful life.
In 2008, average American family man Dave Bruno decided to unhook himself from the intravenous drip of consumerism that fueled his life by winnowing all his personal possessions down to just 100 things. Little did he realize that he would be igniting a grassroots movement—soon after Dave embarked on his journey, media around the world took notice and others started to follow his lead.
A cause for pause, The 100 Thing Challenge is a response to the culture of materialism in America, one that has filled our lives with the constant and unsatisfactory desire for "more." Dave Bruno offers compelling anecdotes and practical advice to help readers live more meaningfully, simply by casting off the unnecessary "stuff" that clutters their lives. The 100 Thing Challenge is a golden opportunity to experience the positive changes that occur as you defiantly hop off the treadmill of consumerism.
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Why? Well, I read a lot of books along the minimalism/simple living/voluntary simplicity/cutting down on consumption vein, and this one isn't particularly noteworthy. Sure, the guy's a good writer, he had some good personal insights during his 100 Thing Challenge, but there's not much to take away from it that I didn't already know: tons of possessions and constant consumerism aren't necessary for a good, happy life (and at times will even block us from it), change doesn't happen until we stop talking about it and actually do it, etc. Other books are more insightful, useful, and interesting. This one is mainly fluff--good perhaps for someone just introduced to the ideas discussed within, not so much for someone who is more familiar with the topic. None of this makes is it a bad book, not at all; it's just not what I was hoping for, which is certainly not the author's fault.
Some interesting points:
What we really want, we cannot buy.
Owning stuff won't make you a master artisan or change something about your past.
American-style consumerism isn't meant to provide us with things we need, but to tempt us to buy more than we need.
When we constantly expect our things to make us happy, we will never be content.
Stuff cannot possibily live up to our expectations because it is only things.
Our obsession with stuff sometimes blinds us to how good life really is.
Having begun my own journey a few months ago, I had reached many of the same conclusions Dave Bruno reached during his challenge so none of his insights were a new and wonderous way of thinking to me, but he did put into words concepts that were only vaguely floating about my brain. Rather than the enlightened master teaching the student, I found Dave Bruno to be a kindred spirit whom I could relate to and reading his book served to reinforce my new way of thinking.
So Dave spends some time auditing his possessions, with a few asides about his forays into photography.
Then all of a sudden -
The book becomes a combo of 'corporate culture' critique (and some motivational cassette tape company) and bible study. The book is not necessarily marketed to those who consistently pray to Jesus Christ for guidance, but it probably only holds an appeal to those who do.
The central notion that we should find a personal path to reduced consumerism is excellent, but for the people who bought this book, that's preaching to the converted.
And speaking of preaching, the fact that Bruno's quest is rooted in his Christian spirituality is certainly relevant to share, but I was surprised to read him agree with a friend's observation that a single woman he ran into while camping alone was "Satan." Now, how would she feel about that?
I also found it odd, in a book that that's supposed to help us fight consumerism, advertising and enticing brands, that Bruno's "things" discussions includes item model names such as his "Apple Macbook Pro." Any book fighting consumerism should want to avoid any appearance of product placement.
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