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Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists Paperback – January 1, 2014
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About the Author
The Minimalists--Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus--are bestselling authors and international speakers who write and speak about living a meaningful life with less stuff. Their books include Essential: Essays by The Minimalists, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, As a Decade Fades: A Novel, and Everything That Remains: A Memoir. They have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun,Village Voice, LA Weekly, and many other outlets. Visit the authors online at TheMinimalists.com.
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The book (toward the end) does contain some valuable ideas on reducing consumerism during the Christmas season. Getting to that point, however, requires enduring a long, wordy story about the author's dysfuntional childhood, followed by his corporate success. He then shares that he downsized his life, but there are far more pages of mere rambling than there are of interesting dialog about his simplicity journey. I can't recall how many times I thought, "Oh, please, get to the point!"
By the way, the co-author, whose life we learn just a little about, is the better writer of the two. But virtually everything he says (except for the helpful holiday ideas) is relegated to the end of the book, in tiny font. So the reader must employ two bookmarks and flip to the end of the book a total of 108 times, where the second author's input is added as endnotes. Not a comfortable or convenient format.
The worst part, however, is Mr. Millburn's writing. He's clearly an intelligent and witty guy, but his ego is overpowering. He has an admirable ability to speak his truth. If he would only express himself from that place of openness and honesty, rather than trying to impress his audience. Trying to impress is never impressive. His continual barrage of ridiculously enormous words and odd metaphors makes the reading of this book tedious. He must have spent a heap of time poring over a thesaurus. He's also a bit loose with crude and foul language. He could stand to incorporate some of the minimalism he lives into his writing style. Cleaner. Tidier. Less excess. And the beginning of page 127 to almost the bottom of page 129 is one continuous run-on sentence. One sentence literally takes up nearly three full pages of this book. No joke. What's most disturbing about that? This man teaches (pricey) on-line WRITING courses. Yikes!
I give him two stars. Yes, he did progress from the corporate world to the path of minimalism, and for that I applaud him. He deserves accolades, also, for his healthy, compassionate diet. Beyond that...? If this book really calls to you, then by all means, check it out. From the minimalism books I've read, however, this is one I'd be least likely to recommend.
By Norma J. Sassone "Norma J" (Olympia WA)
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This review is from: Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists (Paperback)
I recently happened upon the Minimalists mentioned in a Houzz chat, while reading the trials and tribulations many have in downsizing when they retire or clearing out half a century of stuff left by parents who have died. I have struggled with this with my Mom who is very sentimental about many of her things. I am a baby boomer who never fell for all the materialistic life, have always paid cash for EVERYTHING (no credit card debt cars for cash), have saved, bought second hand, and culled out tons of stuff from my abode on a regular basis, so Millburn's ideas are really nothing new to many of us who never fell for the consumer addiction (and there ARE many of us out here). Though I have lived life simply, I somehow never have felt the need to flaunt it to others, travel the world talking about it, or start a blog. Maybe it is because my family taught us to value togetherness, the simple things in life, growing our own food, going for walks, traveling on the cheap, and pretty much detesting the wealthy and ostentatious, even though we lived a comfortable middle class life. Thus, we simply lived that life and never thought about.
That said,I really liked what Millburn has to say about his journey and its ultimate destination, but it bothers me just a bit that he and his friend Ryan have parlayed this into a way to make money by blogging and publishing, though I suppose all those of their generation might need to hear it since they have been incessantly bombarded with corporate, materialistic, consumerism since birth.
As for writing style, well, let me tell you, this retired English/writing teacher feels that Millburn still has a long journey to reach the heights of writing style and effectiveness. His narrative is well constructed and his voice rings true, but, oohh, some of those descriptions (especially of women he meets and places he goes) just jangled my ear. They were not exactly cliched, just sounded kind of "green." Again, I am finding a certain naive arrogance in someone teaching a writing course, when he has only been a writer for a few years.
Despite all that, the book is an interesting read, and could be a motivation to simplify ones life - but, really, I recommend On Walden Pond. Henry David Thoreau was the original minimalist.