A Small Life Book Club: Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life


This month I read Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life. I “read” this book via audiobook. That may have colored my review. In this case, I enjoyed the reader’s voice. It was authoritative, yet personal– like a good chat with a long-time friend.

The first part of this book shared Josh and Ryan’s journey to minimalism. While I found that part relatable and quasi-interesting, I enjoyed the second part of the book much more. The second part of the book describes the five dimensions of living a meaningful life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

I must admit, I have an easy time with the “stuff” aspect of minimalism. I love throwing stuff away. And I love a clean, sparse space. The “stuff” that I hold onto is mostly mental stuff. I get really caught up in the day-to-day junk that doesn’t add value to my life. This book helped me to reflect on what’s truly important and a little more difficult– the mental part of minimalism.

I did enjoy this book. It was a quick, worthwhile read, but I did have a few bones to pick. I think an issue with much of minimalism writing is that it is written by people who once made a great deal of money. The authors do admit they were once in debt, but they also had six figure incomes. Once you start exchanging unimportant large expenses for smaller ones, like a mortgage on a large house for rent in an inexpensive apartment, you’ll be able to cut expenses incredibly quickly. With a six figure income, you’ll get out of debt quickly and you’ll be able to save quickly. For most people, it’s not so easy. I wanted strategies for sustaining minimalism. What do I do when minimalism gets really hard? It often does. How do I contribute to my health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution when I have little time for myself? Not everyone can quit their full-time jobs. I want to hear from those single moms who found minimalism!

Maybe I need to write the answer. Maybe “Minimalism for busy people” will be my next book? 🙂

Have you read Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life? What strategies do you have for sustaining your minimalist lifestyle? Let me know in the comments.


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10 thoughts on “A Small Life Book Club: Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life

  1. Robyn

    Melanie Have you read “New Slow City” by William Powers I am 42% into the book and he is addressing some of what you question.
    From personal history I would say that once you make the decision to do something its easy because the decision has been made and thats your priority and nothing will get in the way.

    1. melanie Post author

      I haven’t! I will put that on my to-read list. It’s funny because the last book I read called Scarcity addresses the fact that it is so hard to change your life when you have a scarcity of time and/or money. It alluded to some helpful ways to give yourself more time/manage your money, but true, sustainable change is so difficult.

  2. Morgan

    I agree! My husband and I live on one income while I stay home with our young kids (6,4 and 2). He has a good, secure job with great benefits and a pension, but we live pay cheque to pay cheque right now. I try to budget, but would love some inspiration that addresses paying off debt and saving when people don’t make six figures!

  3. Melissa

    Hi Melanie, thanks for your comments about the Minimalists. I think they (and others like them) believe that we’ll be more motivated when we see those who’ve given up their 6 figure salaries to simplify but I agree with you. Is it really hard to become a minimalist when you’re just giving up all your stuff and traveling with three shirts? I still want to see a woman (with a kid or two, and maybe a dog) travel the world with her backpack and skinny jeans!! We seem to carry more baggage and I don’t just mean the Samsonite kind. Keep writing for those of us who have to deal with the messiness of bills to pay, mouths to feed, and very real commitments to balance.

    1. melanie Post author

      Melissa, you’re welcome! And I don’t know how motivating it is to see someone who had a 6 figure salary. I just find it depressing. If I wanted to give up my job, it would take me 10 years (versus their two years) to save just for that. And yeah, in some ways I do think it’s just easier for men. I’ve definitely seen some women that travel the world alone (see: but I agree that we usually need more stuff. Bras take up a ton of room in a backpack. LOL.

  4. Brandi

    My husband and I are both teachers. We are about to sell our “big house” buy some property and renovate an airstream that I am buying from my sister. I know people think we are crazy leaving a 2600 sq feet for 200 sq feet, and we might be- but we have such big dreams! We have 2 teenagers that will be leaving home soon, and we promised them that if we sold the house, we would travel the world every break we get. There will be sacrifices, but they will be worth it. This is all started when we lived in Italy last summer. We learned that there is so much more to life than all these empty rooms we do not use. So why do we pay for them. Our ‘big” house has always caused us “big” problems, and I feel relief to be selling! Where there is a will there is a way! I will be using your blog as a basis of support and a resource in the months to come. Keep blogging :)!

    And here is a “normal” person, with a lower paying job and two kids doing the minimal life!

  5. JWR

    My wife and I, along with our four children, try to live a minimal lifestyle. I believe it looks different for everyone. I enjoyed the book along with their blog. We sold our 2600 sf house to live in a 1500 sf ranch. We also found it cathartic to “thin”. Thats what we call going through our stuff and donating, selling, or throwing it away. Our kids still have toys, but they are not surrounded by it. I like the idea that you keep the things that bring value to your life. We still have stuff, but it is meaningful stuff. I work full time and my wife works part time. Our life is too busy to have excess stuff to worry about. We focus on experiences. We recently bought a 1975 Airstream to remodel because we like to travel, camp, and explore. I understand your point about minimizing your thoughts. I haven’t mastered that, but I am getting better. The less stuff around has helped me focus on my thoughts and how I deal with them. I used to surround myself with distractions to avoid anxiety, doubt, and stress. Now, I find that I think clearer and can handle that easier without the distractions. I enjoy your blog and learning about your journey. I see the similarities in my own journey. Good luck and enjoy…

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