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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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This would have functioned as a great blog entry or article, so that the really poignant parts of it could stand out. As a book, these points are lost in a lot of rambling justifications for why the author considers his challenge a challenge.
In my opinion the most important thing he touched on was WHY we hold onto certain items. He tells the story of a model train set he had held onto over the years and how getting rid of it meant closing a door on one of his identities or paths in life. I would recommend reading the book solely for that part. It sheds some light on our impulse to keep certain items and what they represent. I would love to read a book dedicated to that topic and I think the author missed the mark in his focus. The unnecessary over-explaining of a challenge that hardly requires explanation robbed the author of the chance to discuss so many bigger things.
Is it just me or does this book feel like an assignment that the author procrastinated on and then slapped together at the last moment without first establishing its purpose or organization? Reminds me of some of my college papers. Trim the fat, and this could be a much better book.
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.
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.
He counts his entire library as one thing! He also gets rid of stuff that he needs and has to replace, that was strange. This book is okay but Francine Jay's 'The Joy Of Less' is SO much better, read that first, or instead.