A Simpler Life by The School of Life
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Out: January 6, 2022 (May be later in your market)
This book is hard to rate because for the person who is entirely new to the subject, it will offer some interesting food for thought and point one in the direction of useful resources. However, if you’ve been giving the topic some thought and have read works like Kamo no Chōmei’s “The Ten Foot Square Hut,” you’re likely to find it a disappointing regurgitation of the thoughts of others mixed with banal truisms. So, I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who’s begun simplifying their lives, but for someone who needs an entry point that isn’t as intimidating as hardcore works such as that of Chōmei it might be of use.
My biggest problem with this book was that it seemed to suggest that because simplifying means more simplicity that all readers would be converging toward the same life. In other words, that there isn’t space for a diversity of approaches to simplicity. In one of the great ironies of the book, it advocates for reading less and having at most a dozen books on one’s shelf. The irony isn’t the suggestion of fewer books, but that in a world in which no one had more than a dozen books on their shelves, this book would not exist on any of them. And the kinds of books this book suggests are essentially self-help titles. [To be fair, I almost never read self-help books because they mostly (and certainly in this case) leave me feeling like I would having come from a fortuneteller – i.e. feeling lighter in the wallet, but no wiser in the mind.]
This isn’t a bad book, but I think most readers can do better.
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