Melissa’s Mini Round-Up: Books About Simplicity

The Good LifeIncreasingly, the world is turning to the solace of simplicity as a respite from the daily bombardments of life in 2013. Silent retreats and spa resorts are the holiday of choice for uber busy yuppies who spend their life juggling phones, tablets, laptops and iPods. I have been researching, for the past year or so, how to create a life of quiet contentment within this world.

I am a strange creature, I am part introvert, part extrovert—I thrive on adrenalin and people-action, but then I need to go to my room, close the door and listen to Mozart—seriously. While I crave the peace fostered by these lifestyles, I also:

  • Feel strongly about reducing my eco-footprint
  • Care about being kind to the earth and to the animals (let the chicken frolic if you’re going to steal her eggs)
  • Can’t avoid the fact that all the research and books I have read about overcoming chronic pain and fatigue point to a simple, vegetarian diet

A few of my April reads were about simplicity, so I thought I would provide a list of recent reads that have been guiding me in my creation of an alternative life.

Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective, by  Ed. Michael Schut

This book contains extracts of writing about simplicity of time, money, consumption, economics, food, theology and community. Respected academics and writers who advocate simplicity as a way of life contributed the chapters.

There is also a chapter on the history of simplicity. The concept of simplicity is nothing new, from Walden (Thoreau) to this compilation in the late 1990s to now, it has been pursued by a variety of cultures and religions.


Enough: Finding More by Living with Less, by Will Davis Jr.

This is another book advocating a lifestyle of generosity rather than individualistic consumerism. I enjoyed the argument Davis put forward and seeing the evidence referred to from the bible readings provided. However, I was disappointed it did not provide more about actually living with less, it felt (at times) more like a call to give more money to your church, than a manifesto of living with less.

The Good Life: Your Guide to a Greener and More Fulfilling Life, by Francesca Price

A great, visually packed guide of living the good life in New Zealand. Journalist, Price, outlines the research supporting the organic lifestyle – and it is considerable. She also provides recommendations for what to purchase and where, being wary of price. I was shocked to find that it now takes eight store-bought oranges to provide the same level of nutrients as one orange from our grandparents’ era. I don’t have even a hint of the “green thumb”; however, I was inspired to purchase three potted herb plants as a start toward growing some of my own food.

Finding Sanctuary

Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life, by Christopher Jamison

Jamison is a monk who hosted the television series “The Monastery”. In this book, he provides insights for Christian living, with practical suggestions for daily practice. He translates St Benedicts’s Rule for monastic living (written 1500 years ago) so that we can utilise this wisdom to live content, peaceful lives outside the monastery. I find that I lean toward the lay-monastic way, probably because I am an Anglican from way back, we like our systems.

No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan

The long title: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process. A great read about the year Beavan went “no impact”, highly recommended to get you inspired to live off the grid.

Be More with Less and Simple Ways to be More with less by Courtney Carver

A great website and book for living simply, especially for health reasons—Carver shares how living simply helps her face a chronic illness.

The Kind Life and The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet, by Alicia Silverstone

A book and website promoting vegan living as a kinder way of life—for our bodies and the environment. This is easy to read and not too preachy while still giving you the research to back up the point.

Is your curiosity peaked? Check out some of these resources and let me know if they inspired you to try to reduce your lifestyle to a more manageable, simple one. Do you recommend any other websites or books in this area? I’m always looking for more reading materials.


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