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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Simpler Living: A Back to Basics Guide to Cleaning, Furnishing, Storing, Decluttering, Streamlining, Organizing, and More » User review

Simplification by filling in gaps in routine knowledge

  • Jul 24, 2010
This book is a fascinating contemporary paradox. In a world where electronic forms of information are leaving increasingly fewer niches for traditional books, and where most of our quick answers come from a search engine, this is a beautiful somewhat retro-looking coffee table reference guide that simply answers common questions of daily life. Often reminding me of scenes from books and films from the 1950's, it uses mundane advice in a way intended to help address the big question: "how do I stop just reacting to complex situations in my life, and begin to enjoy it?" Still, given the wealth of general information available to us today, why would anyone invest in a coffee table book with none of the interactivity and entertainment we've come to prize so highly?

The answer lies in the very form that the book takes. It offers the strategy: start somewhere, start anywhere, and start with small everyday things. To get the most out of this book, it invites you to look away from your phone and your computer screen for a few minutes, to stop being distracted by ads and to settle on a few relevant pages specific to a particular area you care about. It invites you to think just a little bit about the advice it is offering.

The whole point is to simplify your otherwise hectic life, and this book encourages you to start simplifying by stopping just a moment to read and think about your situation and how you might improve it in various simple ways. Like a search engine, it does not itself answer any particular question in great depth, but unlike a search engine, it actually does answer specific questions and offer specific advice on a useful variety of topics, rather than just offering links to other sources that it cannot intelligently evaluate. More importantly, unlike a search engine, the topics are organized meaningfully so that you have a lot of specific advice to improve the particular area of your life that most needs simplifying. Yet this is not a textbook or a reference book that requires deep study, it only demands a few minutes of reflection at a time to learn some new well chosen tips to address a particular area of interest, and then know that you can always come back to the book for another topic when you are ready.

This book is a welcome paradox today because it combines the best of both the traditional book format and the modern short attention span. The physical presence of this book on your coffee table or your shelf lets you feel that you have securely "bookmarked" a place for simplifying your life, its advice is always there ready when you are, unlike the ephemeral existence and location of online sources. That in itself is a welcome anchoring point toward simplifying a chaotic life. The organization of the book allows you to find the kind of advice you need, while not having to read very much to get something useful out of it.

You won't learn any deep concepts or technical expertise from this book, and as a consequence the advice is very general, relies on you to apply it intelligently, and will not always be perfect or even applicable. In general I think it succeeds however. The topics here are mundane parts of everyday life such as cleaning, organizing, storage, dealing with routine money matters, dealing with common interpersonal situations, and so on. The value of this book is that the mundane areas of life are ones that we very commonly take for granted how much we really need to know to function well. Functioning in these areas of life operates from a gap in our knowledge. The everyday situations this book addresses are too numerous for us to learn from particulars. I haven't learned how to clean each different sort of thing that could possibly get dirty, how to store everything that needs to be stored, how to choose what to throw away for each kind of thing I come across, how to deal with each kind of bill, and so on. I apply general knowledge and abilities to fill in the gaps, and the result is sometimes better than others. The gap is part of what complicates my life, the effort and attention that it takes to deal with all sorts of things that are common activities yet I'm simply not doing them very efficiently.

I think this book can help you simplify your life and enjoy it more by encouraging you to stop to think about the sorts of things that are complicating your life, and by offering specific advice in closely related topics that you would otherwise not have put the time and thought into considering. It demands only a few moments of thought at a time, yet stays ready for use, a physical reminder to leverage those moments you happen to break free of your daily chaos to look for help making your life a little less complicated. This makes it a uniquely valuable compromise for helping us simplify our complicated modern lives.

This is a useful collection of tips, tricks, and advice for everyday life that can potentially help you make routine situations easier to navigate by filling in gaps in your understanding of common situations and is a great start if you are feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of modern life. It will not help you master organizing or problem solving but it will help you deal with the little things that sap your resources from mastering the bigger issues.

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review by . February 21, 2012
This is a great book for people who want a few quick tips on how to organize various things in their life. What made this book different for me though was the way that the information was presented. I have read many self-help books but often times the author seems like a self entitled know-it-all. This however is presented in a way that makes sense and allows one to view their life from an outside perspective. I would highly recommend this to people searching for a self-help book but one that is …
review by . December 24, 2010
One of my first tests of a book is when the review copy arrives in my mail box: just how eager am I to read it? When I received my copy of Simpler Living (for the full title, see above, as it is far too long and complicated to repeat!), I winced. Hoo boy, some real heft here, with 456 pages and heavy hard covers and glossy pages filled with stock photos.     The book appears to address those of us who have busy lives and are forever on the run, trying to find a way to organize …
review by . August 31, 2010
Simpler Living is a coffee table book filled with tips on how to make life a bit less hectic. As one would expect, the book contains hints about how to declutter. However, the author's focus isn't living in a bare house with absolutely no personality. Instead, the entries focus on functionality and being organized. This perspective is probably far more realistic for people with children.      The book includes a little bit of everything. There is a wide variety of advice …
review by . September 22, 2010
. . . and in the interest of full disclosure, would like to thank the author for sending me a complimentary copy.    I have seen far too many "self-help" books which went into such exorbident detail as to render them worthless. The reader gets as far as chapter two, and gives up in despair. I have found this to be true with weight-loss books, financial planning guides, home organization books -- and even in a Natural Family Planning instruction manual (but that's another story!)    …
review by . June 21, 2010
This is a great coffee table book because there is so much content to be absorbed. It is billed as a "back to basics guide" and I think it does a great job there. Who doesn't want their life to be simpler and less hectic. Who doesn't want to cut down on stress? I know I want all of these. And so far this book seems like it can help.     This book called out to me because I had been doing some "Spring cleaning" and decided I had too much stuff. Yes, I know, its already Summer …
review by . August 07, 2010
Each chapter in this book is full of practical suggestions for organizing and streamlining your life. Although it sounds like a boring topic, this well illustrated guide actually energized me to get up and get the clutter out of my life, just a few minutes after I started reading (well, maybe half an hour). This book changed my life for the better, and even though I am a bibliophile, I can't say that about most of my treasured books.     To demonstrate how much I needed this …
review by . August 31, 2010
Simpler Living is a coffee table book filled with tips on how to make life a bit less hectic. As one would expect, the book contains hints about how to declutter. However, the author's focus isn't living in a bare house with absolutely no personality. Instead, the entries focus on functionality and being organized. This perspective is probably far more realistic for people with children.     The book includes a little bit of everything. There is a wide variety of advice from …
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About this book


The companion toBack to BasicsandHomesteading: simple, practical, proven advice to reduce the stress of modern living.Life moves too quickly these days, as technology, work, and personal commitments make it almost impossible to relax and enjoy life. Finding yourself stressed over the clutter in your kitchen or the mass of paper in front of your computer? Relax. This book will help. Filled with tips on how to uncomplicate your daily routine, eliminate stress at home and work, and more, this book will help you free up your time so you can once again enjoy doing the things you love. Author Jeff Davidson has compiled more than 1,500 ways that you can simplify your life.

Divided into sections for easy reference, this book will show you ways you can eliminate stress in your home, your personal life, and in your professional life. You will learn the six questions you should ask yourself before buying something new, the most efficient way to clean your pots and pans, the pay-ahead technique to get yourself out of debt, ways to make your commute more comfortable, and advice on hassle-free vacation planning for you and your family. This book is the guide you’ve been looking for to lead the peaceful, productive life you’ve always wanted. 1,000 color photographs
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ISBN-10: 160239976X
ISBN-13: 978-1602399761
Author: Jeff Davidson
Genre: Home & Garden
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
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