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Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786880003
ISBN-10: 0786880007
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A guide for our time."―Vanity Fair

About the Author

Elaine St. James, former real estate businesswoman, is the author of the national bestsellers Simplify Your Life and Inner Simplicity. She lives a quiet, simple life in Santa Barbara, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1 edition (May 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786880007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786880003
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There's a few recent naysayers who reviewed this book and were very negative, but remember, a lot of people are very defensive about any suggestions that go against the grain of how they've lived their entire lives. Also, a lot of people are consumed with keeping up with the Jones'.
This book is not about being a hermit, being cheap, or giving away all your possessions. It's about keeping those things that contribute positively to your life and discarding the rest. Getting to the essence of things if you will.
Most people wear 20% or less of their wardrobe. Why not then give the other 80% to friends and charities and enjoy a clutter free closet where you can easily find what you are looking for?
If you find yourself stressed out going to 10 holiday parties, then try going to only 2 and see how you feel.
I came across this book in 1994, and have gradually employed a lot of the ideas. I've found a few things that I tried that weren't for me, but overall it's been a huge positive in my life. It's great not being choked with possessions and clutter. It's freed up so much time to do volunteer work, exercise more, enjoy the outdoors more, and just to drink my coffee slow in the morning.
This book is fantastic for those who wish their lives to focus on doing and contributing and experiencing, rather than buying, consuming, storing, moving, weeding-through, tripping-over, collecting, and trying to impress.
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Format: Paperback
I guess this book falls into the category of "never take parenting advice from someone who never had children". I bought this book because I LOVED "Simplify your life" by this author. I found it very helpful. This book, however, was mostly confounding and fairly depressing. While St. James *did* seek out advice from her friends who had children, these friends apparently take a very 'hands off' approach to their kids.
The book opens with a scenario in which a mother has forgotten to pick up her child and the child is stranded somewhere late in the evening while she tries to figure out a way to get someone else to go pick him up now that she's home and needs to make dinner. This did not bode well for the rest of the book [for those of us who don't routinely completely forget about our children and leave them alone in public places late at night....]
Much of the advice in this book falls into the category of "simplify your life with children by paying someone else to deal with the little brats". There is much about how parents should put their children in day care all day [and don't EVER let your child think they have the ability to cause you to delay your departure because of their pathetic tears, etc, etc, etc] and then get a sitter to care for the children in the evenings so mom can have "Me" time and parents can have "Us" time. Apparently, if you schedule 2 hours of "quality time" on Sunday afternoon with your kids, that's really all they need.
There was also a big push to teach the kids "self sufficiency" - as in, your 5 year old really can get his own breakfast so he doesn't "bother" you.
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Format: Paperback
You'll enjoy this book if you are just getting started in the process of simplifying your life, or if you're looking for a little extra inspiration. However, the book is too limited to use an an overall guide.
To understand why, remember that this is really a collection of ideas that St. James and her husband have already put into place in their lives. They were hard core yuppie materialists in the 80's and decided to simplify their lives to have more time for each other. The author's recommendations reflect this orientation. "Get rid of your boat" is obviously not going to apply for everyone. Some of the suggestions to limit your time with others also probably assume that you've already found a life partner; single folks should keep this in mind as they read.
The format of this book also makes for a strange alternation between huge, life-changing choices (move to where you can be close to your workplace), and weirdly specific recommendations (stop using nail polish). I found this to be a little odd, but if you are just looking for ideas, it probably won't bother you. I also found the suggestion to "change your expecations", which turned out to mean, "avoid doing difficult things" to be defeatist and unhelpful.
There are some great ideas in this book in every section. Some of the suggestions are challenging, but could yield great results. Each one, although not helpful to EVERYONE, will probably be helpful to SOMEONE. For these reasons, I'm giving it three stars. The book could be very useful as a way to provoke thought about what is really necessary in your life. Just don't look to it as an all purpose guide, and keep in mind the backgrounds of the authors as you read.
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By A Customer on February 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Elaine St James does not have children of her own, but she has co-written this book with Vera Coles-mother of three. Despite Coles' parent perspective, much of the writing seems out-of-touch with the daily lives of most parents. But much more frightening, the authors have not done their child development homework, and many of their suggestions could be harmful to children.
St James begins with a description of your typical harried day, which includes having to "rescue your two-year-old from the baby-sitter." Any mother whose typical day includes "rescuing" her two-year-old from child care needs more than to simplify her life. She needs to drop everything and find some better child care! But St James, with no experience in trying to find adequate and affordable child care, doesn't appreciate the magnitude of this problem, and is simply trying to be funny. (Also, most child-care professionals resent being called "babysitters," a term she uses throughout the book, because it does not reflect the care and education caregivers work hard to provide.)
On page 7, St. James attempts to deal with the universal problem of separating from your child. As she does repeatedly, St. James approaches this problem with only the parents' needs in mind. Her focus is on streamlining the adult's morning routine, without any mention of the child's needs. She suggests that you (mommy) let daddy take the child during the first few weeks because the child is probably more used to saying good-bye to daddy. The stereotypes in this statement annoyed me, but worse than annoying was her suggestion that you enlist "another adult" to take the child. Separation from parents is one of the most difficult problems children face in child care.
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