Author: Fumio Sasaki, Eriko Sugita
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: Helpful tips presented with recognition that minimalism won’t look the same for everyone made this a helpful, accessible, though sometimes repetitive, guide.
I’m moving across the country in about a week and moving always makes me want to get rid of everyone I own, so this book on Japanese minimalism was the right book at the right time for me. Although it had a few flaws, it was a calming, easy read full of helpful tips. The first half, in particular, worked for me. The second half was a little less helpful and made some grandiose claims, but there’s enough good here that I still enjoyed the book overall.
The author begins by sharing the story of his own life before and after adopting minimalist practices. He shares pictures of his own apartment, before and after, that make me what he did feel more achievable. He also shares pictures of several friend’s apartments or travel bags, showing the many different ways people interpret minimalist practices to fit their own needs. Throughout, the author presents his own approach humbly. I appreciated his acknowledgement that minimalism won’t be the same for everyone. Instead, the practice is supposed to allow everyone to determine what they consider essential.
The first half of the book also included a helpful list of tips. While they weren’t all useful or applicable for me, I made notes of about half of them that I thought would provide me with practical help and mental rules for what I might want to get rid of. For me, this was the heart of the book. It’s the part I’m most likely to refer to again and actually make use of. The whole book, but particularly this section, was written in small, easily processed segments. Since my brain has had any easier time processing short-form writing lately, this was perfect for me. I also found something about the author’s tone calm and soothing. This was a great read for a busy, stressed out time in my life.
The last of the half of the book didn’t work as well for me. Although the author had earlier been very clear that minimalism won’t be the same for everyone, he makes some very broad claims about how he thinks it will impact people’s lives in this second half. Apparently if you become a minimalist, you’re likely to see benefits that range from losing weight to a better relationship with your spouse. I don’t know about you, but if I adopted the author’s very spare approach to minimalism, it would not reduce conflict within my marriage! The author did cite some interesting research on happiness, which I enjoyed, but nothing that validated the claims he was making.
I would recommend this book if you want to reduce the amount of stuff you own. I found it a soothing, comfortable read even during a stressful month. It also included a lot of helpful tips and clearly offers the reader permission to take what works for them and leave the rest. The second half of the book was barely worth reading for me, fleshing out the author’s story that we’d already heard with grandiose claims. It might work better for others, as it does expand on his philosophy, but personally, I’d happily re-read the first half and skip the rest. I liked it enough that I am very much looking forward to reading the author’s next book, Hello, Habits, to be released in early January, just as I’m trying to settle into a new routine after moving. Hopefully it will improve upon the flaws of the first book, while keeping the strengths. It certainly seems likely to also line up really well with where I am in life!