I recently (yesterday) finished reading Minimalism: live a meaningful life by Joshua Fields-Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, a pair of dudes with a positive outlook on life and an enviable bromance.
My journey with this book began on January 21 of this year, when Caitlin and I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I remember the date because, in an ironic twist, watching a documentary about shedding non-essentials compelled me to purchase three books. My Amazon order history, haunting as ever, cheerfully reminds me that I ordered those books five months ago today, and I have now read exactly one of them. No matter, onward with the review!
I read this book in three spurts, clearing about half of the book in one sitting (a couple of months ago), much of the remainder a bit later, and the last couple of short chapters yesterday. While many books would feel disjointed at such an approach, this one is modular enough that it didn't really throw me off too much.
While the book is ostensibly about minimalism, it doesn't talk at length about getting rid of all your stuff and moving into a tiny house (as one might expect). Instead it focuses on what, to the authors, constitutes a meaningful life. They break it down into five areas: Health, Relationships, Passions, Growth, and Contribution. After reviewing these areas, their importance, and the things that can keep us from focusing on them, the book circles back to the theme of minimalism by encouraging us to let go of the things in our lives that do not add value (either to our own lives or the lives of those around us).
It seems I've been reading a fair bit on meaningfulness over the past few years, between this book, Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and Don Miller's Storyline curriculum (which has been transformative in my life), and here's where I land with this book: I don't agree with everything Joshua and Ryan put forth, and I am super okay with that. Like the documentary, there's something about the book that nudges me forward into action, that stirs up the complacent areas of my soul, and helps me move ahead with things I would otherwise have let slide. (And, if you recall, that's what this website is all about!)
So: has the book added value to my life? Absolutely. I'm not going to call every passage gospel truth, because it's definitely not, but for every passage where I thought, "well I don't know if I agree with that exactly..." there were four or five where I thought, "this is an important perspective that will help my life improve." Between the book and its documentary, I have gotten rid of objects that don't add value to my life (lots of clothes I was keeping for no reason, among many other things), have organized many of the objects that do add value to my life (my video game collection, which is gearing up to see Let's Play Friday relaunch later this year), and have obtained a fresh perspective on things that matter vs. things that don't.
In a fit of inconsequential subversion, I'd like to award this book 8,750 out of 10,000 stars. Recommended.