The Simple Life edited by Larry Roth was very useful book to borrow from my local library, because it provides a series of essays by various people on their thoughts on simplicity, frugality and living well.
It in a single book manages to teach someone a rather difficult concept at first that there really is no one right way to live. You see when you say words like simplicity and frugality then then to mean different things to different people. I might consider washing a freezer bag for reuse frugal while someone else thinks that is cheap and won’t dream of doing it. The book provides a good cross section of people’s views on those concepts. By the end of the book you start to really get that you can pick and choose the ideas you like from the writers to come up with your own viewpoint.
Now I have to admit I had yet to hear of many of the writers in this volume but there are a few familiar names like Amy Dacyczyn (The Tightwad Gazette) and Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin (Your Money or Your Life).
Yet the one essay that really touch a cord with me was by Edith Flowers Kilgo who wrote on downsizing. She realized at one point in her life she had hit the very definition of successful: a nice home, good career and lots of things yet she wasn’t happy. So by downsizing her life to a more simple and frugal one she now loves what she does each day and can actually enjoy it.
Now granted there are a few good tips in this book, but I rather liked the different stories everyone’s lives and how they came to determine what works for them. Lifestyles are truly not one size fits all. You need to find what works for you. Case in point, when my wife read it she liked some different essays than me. Yet I had to agree with her common point: you need a goal to do it. Otherwise cutting back won’t have any focus and it is easy to stop doing it.
I won’t recommend this as required reading but rather a supplement one if you are looking to find out what is important in your life and to see how others have made some very different choices to find their own happiness.