Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review- Living With Less: An Unexpected Key To Happiness

     I recently had the privilege of reading Joshua Becker's newly released ebook, Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness. In the book, Becker skillfully weaves the heart of living a life of minimalism with personal stories and a Christian perspective . When information regarding an upcoming ebook was announced on his blog page, Becoming Minimalist, I was eager to obtain a copy. The quality of content of his posts have easily lead the blog to become become one of my favorite sites to read and follow. The ebook did not disappoint in the least. In fact, it was one of those rare books that resonated within me to such an extent that I had to periodically put it down at times to simply exclaim, "wow." Of course, I then readily dove back in with glee. 
     The author's predominant audience is youth, as is clearly displayed in the lower lefthand corner of the front cover. Though he does speak at times from this perspective, the influence is so subtle that the appeal, I believe, extends far beyond this age grouping. I personally throughly enjoyed the work and didn't feel as though I was reading material geared for a younger audience. I applaud the author for reaching out to this particular group, however, as this perspective on life and living is likely one that has not been demonstrated or taught to them. 
      The informal tone of the book communicates a concise yet well developed approach to the various aspects of minimalism. His writing is such that his desire for connection with and conveyance to his audience can be sensed with familiarity. Moreover, it is evident that he is passionate for minimalism and ministry as the two subjects are interconnected throughout the work. In fact, he spends and entire chapter in discussion of salvation leading to a life devoted to Christ. Other connections to the gospel are found within a majority of the chapters. His approach to ministry within this subject matter is different, however, from other faith-based financial or materialism works in that he doesn’t offer concrete or step-wise suggestions for betterment. This style is consistent with the rest of the book in that the book is not a step by step guide to practical ways to become a minimalist, but rather a guide to the principals and heart for the lifestyle. I’m particularly fond of when Becker says,
          I have come to believe and understand that minimalism – the intentional promotion of 
         the things I most value and the removal of everything that distracts me from it – is a
         message that appeals to the heart and resonates with the soul… (p. 48). But for this 
         pursuit to become a reality in anybody’s life (yours or mine), we must be convinced that 
         this lifestyle is worth our effort. … if our heart is not fully convinced, we will struggle with
         the same old pattern of life that defines so many of the people around us” (p. 52).
 while discussing how connection with the heart is vital to the choice to live differently.

    My criticism of the book is that it seems to assume materialism is in the form of desiring "bigger houses, faster cars, trendier clothes, fancier technology." Yet, I would be more apt to believe the desire lies more in the accumulation of stuff in general regardless of the quality. One can be overwhelmed with consumerism by an excess of mediocre stuff without ever striving in pursuing nicer items. The author does mention the ability to have fewer nicer items instead of many poorer quality items as a benefit of minimalism. However, there remains a bit of a weakness in establishing the two sides of consumerism or materialism, which would be having bigger and better possessions or simply more and more of them. If the reader feels as though he/she doesn't fit the assumption of having or wanting a big house, fast car, trendy clothes, latest technology ectera, then the message of minimalism may become inapplicable and ineffective. However, it is one I feel is worthwhile in sharing and teaching to others. 

   The weak point of the book, in my opinion, is really small in comparison to the work as a whole. I found the content and organization of the book to be of excellent quality. Despite I having been previously exposed and personally believing in the principles of minimalism prior to my reading the book, I was still moved and inspired by it.   I would highly recommend this book. It is an encouragment to individuals already believing in minimalism as well as a great start for individuals without former exposure. 

Further Information & Ways To Purchase:
Author Joshua Becker's website: Becoming Minimalist

Printed Book Version:

eBook Version:

*Note: 1) An e-book version of this book was given to me free of charge for review prior to publication in exchange for my review to be published on Reviving Homemaking. Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of the author, book, or publisher. As such, Reviving Homemaking does not receive any compensation in any form beyond a free copy of the book. The opinions shared are entirely my own and have not been influenced or solicited in any particular direction in any manner. 

     2) Some links included within the post contain an affiliate link to Reviving Homemaking is an affiliate of, and as such receives compensation for each purchase made through the links. 

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