There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little. – Jackie French Koller
Minimalism is a lifestyle movement which is rapidly gaining momentum in the western societies.
The trend towards a ‘less is more’ approach to living is largely driven by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.
Known as The Minimalists, they were the subjects of a hit documentary and they’ve been featured by media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the BBC, and NPR.
Their followers have joined them in letting go of ‘stuff’ and creating simpler, yet more fulfilling lives.
But Millburn and Nicodemus are certainly not the only minimalists sharing their practices through the written word.
In this article, you’ll find the lowdown on the best books about minimalism and decluttering — to inspire and motivate you as you reimagine your perspective on life and consumerism.
But what is minimalism?
It’s a lifestyle choice based on the principle that filling our immediate environment with objects and possessions that we don’t really need (or even want) makes us trapped, tied down by spending and debt, and creates an unshakeable sense of unhappiness and discontent.
Instead, minimalists build the foundations for freedom by only buying and owning things they truly need, or items that bring them genuine joy.
There are no strict rules which govern those who decide to embrace a minimalist way of life.
It’s all about personal choice — liberated from the pressures of rampant consumerism, you find that you don’t have to be swayed by the advertisements and social expectations which tell you to buy that new smart phone, or fill your apartment with those home furnishings, or take out a loan so that you can afford that new car.
If you truly want those things — if they bring you joy — you can still have them as a minimalist.
But the choice is yours. You are free.
Dedicated minimalists report benefits including:
- A heightened sense of contentment and peace
- More free time
- The inspiration, funds, and time to pursue their passions
- The experience of freedom and the world being wide open
- Greater creativity
- Less material waste
- A more open and positive outlook
- Feeling calm and comfortable at home, without the overwhelming experience of clutter and mess
Minimalism creates the space for happiness, and allows you to reach for your true purpose and potential.
Read on to discover 7 books which will solidify your understanding of this the minimalist movement, and inspire you to shed the excess — starting now.
1. Less: Minimalism, For Real
Rose Lounsbury is a professional organizer who supports clients in decluttering their homes and lives.
In this book, she offers practical solutions for simplifying your life.
It’s realistic — she understands the demands that most of us face and she wants to make sure that minimalism is a liberating experience, rather than another pressure to add to your world.
Her steps to minimalism are straightforward and doable, and she scatters inspiration throughout the pages in the form of stories about her own — and her clients’ — experience of living with less.
2. The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life
The joy of less is key to the minimalist movement, and Francine Jay explores why it is that having fewer material possessions creates more joy.
Her passionate writing about the benefits of minimalism is coupled with a light touch as she speaks candidly about the almost comedic burden of having too much.
But this is a practical book, too: it includes a refined ten step method for reducing clutter, and a room-by-room exploration of the average house with specific techniques for approaching each one.
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Japan has long been known for its culture of slick, minimalist design — and that’s no coincidence.
The Japanese approach to lifestyle and belongings is inextricably tied with spirituality, and this New York Times bestselling book by professional cleaning consultant Marie Kondo draws on her culture’s rich history of minimalism.
She promises that if you organize your home properly you will never have to do it again, and shares her category-by-category system which will change your living environment forever.
4. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
You may have come across the term Zero-Waste; and if you weren’t sure what it means exactly, this title is for you.
It’s an entertaining and inspiring read — weaving together the personal story of the author with a practical, step-by-step guide to reducing your landfill waste and minimizing your carbon footprint.
Bea Johnson transformed her life by reducing her family’s waste to just one liter per year.
And here, she shows you how you can do it too.
5. ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World
If you’re drawn to a more minimalist way of life but you can’t find the motivation to get started, this book might be the push you need.
It speaks frankly about the negative effects of cluttered homes and disorganized lives — both on a personal level, and from a global environmental perspective.
To up the inspiration the author includes a number of examples of minimalism in action, sharing the stories of people who have changed their lives for the better and begun to contribute more positively to the planet.
You’ll find tough love in these pages; but it’s balanced by practical strategies to streamline your possessions, get in control of your life, and play your part in saving the world.
6. Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists
For an exploration of the theory of minimalism which lays down the realities of the average consumer lifestyle with refreshing honesty, and delves into the uplifting facts which support this as a life-affirming practice, look no further than The Minimalists.
Here, Millburn and Nicodemus share intimate details of their personal history — from grief and love, to finances and careers.
They explain how they found minimalism, and how it changed their lives.
And their stories are imbued with evidence of their deep friendship and of the indisputable value of their new minimalist lives.
7. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
This book is a lifeline for those who feel overworked, burnt out, and constantly at the mercy of other people’s demands.
This is minimalism for your to-do list: less about getting rid of physical clutter, and more about streamlining your skills and your working life so that you can do less, but do better.
It’s about doing the right things, instead of doing all the things.
An empowering read with the potential to change your life.
A minimalist lifestyle doesn’t need to be — and in fact, shouldn’t be — an added pressure in your life.
There should be no guilt involved. You are allowed to own things and want things.
At the core of the concept is the intention to create more space and freedom in your life so that you feel better, and there’s no one right way to do it.
The way minimalism works for you on a practical level will be personal, and unique to your character and circumstances.
It’s about getting beyond the stuff in order to spend more time doing what you want to do; building meaningful connections with others and with yourself; and putting your energy into things that are truly important to you.
These minimalism books are packed with useful advice, tips, and real life stories — as well as conceptual discussions and theoretical explorations.
You will find inspiration and motivation to declutter your own life; whether you take it one step at a time, or dive straight into a new life as a minimalist.
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