Tag Archives: book club

Book Report: December and January

Reading by the fire
I had been doing a book club on the blog where we would read a book about minimalism or living small and then I’d report on it. I fell out of the habit because I got stuck on a book I just simply could not get through. And life is too short to read boring books, am I right?!?

I’d like to get back in the book club habit, but first I thought it might be interesting to take a break and talk about the books I read in December and January. These books have no theme, really. It was just what interested me. And sometimes that’s what I need. Continue reading

September’s Book Club Pick

The not so big life

September’s book club pick is The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka. Sarah is an architect and is best know for her “Not So Big house” books. I’ve had this book sitting beside my bed forever and this will force me to read it! Read it with me and we’ll discuss on September 1st. Let’s get to readin’!


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A Small Life Book Club: August’s Pick


August’s pick for the book club is Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life.* It’s by the guys who write TheMinimalist.com so I’m pretty excited about it. I think it’ll be a lighter read than the last book. 🙂 God willing, we’ll be discussing it in just a couple weeks on August 3rd. So download your copy today!


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A Small Life Book Club: Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much


As always, I “read” this book via audiobook. That may have colored my review. A good book doesn’t make a good audiobook! In this case, I did enjoy the reader’s voice. It wasn’t distracting, but it wasn’t Oscar-worthy either. It was very NPR-neutral, if that makes sense.

I found Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much* a few years ago while perusing a book store on vacation, but I just got a chance to listen to it. And although the psychology of scarcity was fascinating, I had a hard time finishing this one. If I’m being honest, I’ve had a hard time getting motivated by anything lately. I don’t think it was just the book, but I did keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the authors to make some conclusions. The conclusions or ways to outsmart scarcity didn’t come until the bitter end– literally the last 10 minutes of the book. That was incredibly irritating, but I did learn a few things.

The authors, both academics, had a very academic way of approaching scarcity, but explained the psychology in terms easy enough for the lay-man to understand. Basically, the premise is this: We all have a limited amount of “bandwidth” or the ability to make decisions. People who are poor, dieters and people who are busy all have limited bandwidth. Limited bandwidth is bad because it causes people to “tunnel.” When people tunnel, they can’t see all of the options available to them. They then make poor decisions. The poor decisions aren’t necessarily their fault, but instead, a problem of bandwidth. So how do we give dieters, busy people and poor people more bandwidth? Well, dieters can be put on an easier diet– like the Atkins diet that only counts carbs instead of counting calories. Busy people need to take a “sabbath.” One day a week to do no work. And poor people, well, that one is harder. Different things will work for different situations. For example, instead of being given S.N.A.P. benefits at once a month, the benefits could be broken up weekly.

Although this book took me a long time to get through, knowing the psychology behind scarcity will help me to make some positive changes in my life. I tend to be an all-or-nothing gal and I know that if I give myself “slack” in my budget, in my time, and in my life, I’ll be much more successful. I know that I need to have a day (or days!) during the week to do nothing. Right now I don’t have that and it wears on me. I also need to give myself a little slack in my budget. When I feel deprived, I end up spending more.

Overall, I think Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much* was fascinating, but could be skimmed instead of read in it’s entirety.

Have you ever read this book? What did you think about it? Got any suggestions for the next book club book? I’d love to hear them in the comments!


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A Small Life Book Club: Essentialism


I’m a little late too the Book Club game this month. I apologize if you were waiting for the riveting discussion that I’m sure will ensue 🙂 I just had a lot going on and I know not all of it was essential. Ha-ha.

Anyway, this month I listened to the audiobook version of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less*. The author, Greg McKeown, has a lovely voice and if anything, listening to the audiobook favorably influenced my opinion of the book. That hasn’t always been the case when I listened to audiobooks in the past. See: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this book. Most people chase everything instead of chasing the right things. The right things are the things in your life and career that will make the most impact. Unfortunately most of the tasks that we do are unimportant. It’s answering email. It’s picking up the dry cleaning. It’s filling out that form for the 5th time because someone lost it again…

I know on an everyday basis that most of the work tasks and many of the life tasks that I do are nonessential. I know that checking my email 394834923293 times a day doesn’t contribute to my productivity. I know that doing the dishes isn’t going to contribute to my big life goals. I also know that if I don’t do it, no one else will. Which leads me to my biggest problem with the book. I think that the principles are very difficult to apply to government, service or “worker-bee” jobs. It would be easy to say “no” to pursuing menial tasks if I was higher up the food chain. Unfortunately, much of my job is filling out forms and filling up the printer’s paper tray. Even if I did advocate for essentialism, I don’t think I would ever see an institutional change. It’s sad, but true.

I also think that as a person with a limited income, essentialism is difficult to apply to my personal life. Yes, I want to work on writing a book, but I can’t afford to pay someone to do my laundry, clean my house and cook my meals. That has to be done on an every day basis by me.

Although some of the principles of the book are going to be extremely difficult to implement, since reading this book, I have begun to question the nonessential things I can control. Do I really need a Facebook? No. And as soon as I download all of my pictures, I plan to get rid of it. I also reinstalled Rescue Time to keep me off of distracting sites. And I’ve taken off my email’s sound alert, so I don’t run to my email each time I hear the new mail ping. These little things have been extremely helpful, but I’ve yet to free up large chunks of time for essential projects.

Have you read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less*? What did you think? How have you limited nonessential things in your life to make space for the important stuff? Let me know in the comments!


P.S. July’s pick will be Scarcity: Why having too little means so much*. Feel free to leave suggestions for future books in the comments!

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A Small Life Book Club: April’s Pick


Thanks for joining along for March’s book club discussion. It was fun! I appreciate everyone’s insight and I’m looking forward to doing it again. For April, I’ve picked The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential… in Business and in Life.* I love Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits. That may be obvious; I link to it almost every week! I’m excited to learn how limiting clutter can help you accomplish goals. We’ll be discussing this one on May 1st. That’s plenty of time to check it out from your local library, buy it from your local bookstore or order it from Amazon using my affiliate link above.

Let’s get to reading!