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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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That being said, I wanted to read the book. Ultimately, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best I've ever read, either. The book itself, I have to rate 4 stars, but I put the rating as 3 for a couple of reasons.
The message in the story is great, but it's reiterated several times. Not in a conclusive manner, either. The best way that I could describe it is that the author needed filler and a conclusion to every chapter or paragraph. When he wasn't able to conclude in the best way possible, he circled around the same ideas; not unlike every person writing a dreaded essay of 500 words, where they're 50 words short of completion.
The descriptiveness. It was over the top. There are other reviews that discuss it, and they aren't lying...it was almost like this:
"The gray, cloudy sky strew cold, wet, aqua droplets onto the sharpened grass below. We were surrounded by the bitter chill of the day, as we looked out at the icy scenery in front of us."
Really, what you want them to say is: we get it. You were outside on a cold day and it was rainy. Move along. The descriptions in the book...well, they speak for themselves.
Lastly, the verbiage used. Another reviewer said it appeared as though the author had a thesaurus or dictionary handy. It's apparent throughout the book in the addition of words that are just unnecessary.
Overall, the books message is worth the read. I just wish they would have trimmed the fat on it a little bit, and kept with the main story. The extras just worked against it.
I loved this book since it gives the back story of how they lived when mindlessly buying things and assuming material possessions would bring them happiness and contentment. They walk the reader through the catalysts that turned their old assumptions upside down and how they approached creating the life that would bring them the serenity they were looking for. This tome is a wonderful blend of the "why" and the "how" so no matter where you are on your journey, there is something here for you.
I have been working incorporating many of the principles explained here for about 20 years, while living in suburbia with my husband and daughter. While Joshua and Ryan were, and are, in a different place in their lives, the principles apply to both of us and can be used to live a minimalistic life however each individual defines it.
There are some nuggets of wisdom that are worth the price of the book and that I have found myself holding onto and quoting to friends as my husband and I are finally downsizing our home to 1/3 of what we live in now and are doing so joyfully:
1) On keeping things just in case we might need it some day : The 20/20 Theory: "basically, anything I jettison can be replaced for less than twenty dollars, in less than twenty minutes from my current location -- IF I discover I truly need to replace it."
2) "most organizing is nothing more than well-planned hoarding."
3) "These days I know that every dollar I spend adds immense value to my life. There is a roof over my head at night, the books or the music I purchase add unspeakable value to my life, the few clothes I own keep me warm, the experiences I share with others at a movie or a concert add value to my life and theirs, and a meal from China Garden with my best friend becomes far more meaningful than a trip to the mall ever could."
For those just exploring what minimalism means and how they can incorporate it into their lives to people who believe in the principles but need a booster shot of motivation (and to remember that they are not alone in their beliefs), this is an excellent book. I have given three copies as gifts to people who want to understand how I try to live since it's so appealing to them. I am not perfect, and I do fall back into old, traditional habits from time to time, but the ideas expressed by Joshua and Ryan are aligned with what I believe to be one of the keys to a happy, fulfilling life.
I can't recommend this book highly enough.
The authors' transformation from possession-laden, unhappy individuals to successful minimalists is heartwarming. The title asks, perhaps, what readers who are curious about minimalism want to know: what remains after letting go? Though not a minimalist myself, I find their message powerful and endearing; they've inspired me to let go of some of my possessions and, coming from an ex-hoarder, that says a lot. The authors' lifestyle isn't for everyone, but if you're feeling unhappy with your life, their suggestions might not be a bad place to start.