Book Review | The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard
3525 / 5Non-fiction, environment

Wow! I wish I would have read this years ago! I learned so much about all our crap! I’m already on the road to simplify and minimize, but this really got me thinking about what more I can do.

Similar books that I’m interested in:

The video that started the conversation…

Other book recommendations from the book:

Other Notes:

  • – Climate change non-profit fighting the use of fossil fuels.
  • – The Water Footprint Network is a platform for collaboration between companies, organizations and individuals to solve the world’s water crises by advancing fair and smart water use.
  • – Center for Sustainable Economy.
  • – We all rely on services provided by nature, often without realizing it or in ways we don’t fully recognize. Earth Economics identifies and quantifies those benefits to ensure they are included in the decision-making process at all levels, so communities can mitigate risk, increase resilience, and protect their natural capital wealth.

Paradigms are so pervasive and invisible that they can be easily mistaken for truth. When this happens, we limit our creativity in finding solutions to the problems we face, since our thinking is cramped and predefined by society’s dominant framework.

There are the downshifters, those who voluntarily live simply, unplugging from commercial culture, working, and buying less.

…downshifting, enough-ism, or voluntary simplicity–involves embracing a shift towards working and spending less.

Annie Leonard

Book Review | Clutterfree with Kids

Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home. by Joshua Becker
1994 / 5Non-fiction, minimalism

Clear and concise advice from Joshua as usual. Joshua is an easy to follow resource for those interested in decluttering or the lighter side of minimalism. A great resource.

I’ve posted about Joshua here before. This is the second book of his that I read in 2020. I love his stuff, it makes so much sense to me. Implementing is always the hardest part especially with kids. I recommend this book to those with kids that want to pull this off.

There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in organizing more.

Joshua Becker

Clutter is a) too much stuff in too small a place; b) anything you no longer use or love; or c) anything that leads to a feeling of disorganization.

Joshua Becker

Book Review | Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
1462 / 5Non-Fiction, Digital Minimalism

I listened to this, but didn’t get much from it. I preferred Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. It was much more detailed less cursing too 🙂

Pretty disappointed in this work. Just read Cal’s it’s much better!

Book Review | The More of Less

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Maybe the single best book on minimalism I have read. Detailed without being boring. Entertaining, but also very useful. Joshua Becker did an amazing job with this book. An added plus is that he reads his own book in the audio version. Wonderful.

You can learn much more about this book by watching this video

I’m a fan of Joshua Becker’s. I watch his youtube channel and I read his blog. If you want to learn more about minimalism Joshua is a good person to follow. You can catch up on his youtube videos, which are short and sweet as you would expect from a minimalist.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars! I listened to the audiobook version, but I want to get a copy as well for reference. Just a great resource for those wanting to explore or implement minimalism in their life. Best yet Joshua has kids and has still managed to make this happen. He speaks specifically of how to attack this challenge.

Book Review | Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness

Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness
by Gretchen Rubin

Wonderful. I really enjoyed this book. It encompasses much that has been said elsewhere and adds more to it. It also is not filled with too much other stuff or reiterating over and over. Very well done. One star removed for the final chapter “Add Beauty”. I felt that this last chapter “adds” too much when the idea is to declutter. But as with all books and learning, take away what you want and leave what you don’t. Wonderful book!

Book Recommendations:
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern

Top Ten Tips for Creating Outer Order
1. Make Your Bed
2. Follow the one minute rule: anything you can do in less than one minute do without delay
3. Have a weekly power hour: make a list of tasks you’d like to accomplish and spend one hour, once a week, tackling the items on the list
4. Make it fun to get the job done
5. Don’t let yourself fall into empty
6. Don’t put things down, put them away
7. Don’t stockpile: that is, don’t store more of an item than you can realistically use
8. Keep mementos that are small in size and few in number
9. Keep things organized, but not overly organized
10. If you can’t find something, clean up

Book Review | Dwelling: Simple Ways to Nourish Your Home, Body, and Soul

Dwelling: Simple Ways to Nourish Your Home, Body, and Soul
by Melissa Michaels

The author writes this book specifically for women, mentioning makeup and other female-only topics. The author also spends a lot of time speaking about religion and if you are not Christian you may find this off-putting.

Lowest rating for 2020 so far. I just couldn’t relate to this author and her story as she was too focused on the religion and women for a story that I think is bigger.

Book Review | The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
by Cait Flanders
The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
by Cait Flanders

My first audiobook of 2020. One woman’s journey to do with less. Less spending and less alcohol specifically. Flander’s relates her difficulties in addition to shopping and drinking and how a bargain with herself to spend less and stop drinking benefitted her life.

I’ve never had these struggles myself, but can certainly understand that they would be difficult addictions to part with once established. While I can certainly do with less (buying and possessions) I didn’t feel like this particular story really spoke to me. I’m married with children, I don’t have a drinking problem, and my wife and I discuss any purchase over $50.

I do think that many of these experiments seem to be young people who are unmarried and without children. These circumstances make it easier for them to make large changes in their life. Not saying it’s not possible for those who are married with children, it just poses more challenges. 

This was another book that only received 3 out of 5 stars. I listened to it in only 3 days, but I just couldn’t relate. Not at all a fault of the writing or the author.

Book Review | Digital Minimalism

Digital Minimalism
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

…checking your “likes” is the new smoking

Cal Newport

The quote above tells us a lot about Cal’s book. I had really been looking forward to this book. I first her about Cal Newport from The Minimalist podcast. They talk about his book often almost as much as the books they have written themselves. In Digital Minimalist by Cal Newport I learned to delete apps that I use too much. Pay attention to the app usage reports that my iPhone gives me and try to stay away from social media apps, not much to be gained there. Although I do believe there are some good uses, you can just pick up your phone every time you get bored, as the quote above suggests. “Everyone secretly fears being bored.”

Another keeper from Cal is, “…wearing a red shirt on a dating profile will lead to significantly more interest than any other color,…” I love these kinds of insights, although I have no need for that particular one, maybe it will help one of you reading this post!

…the notification symbol for Facebook was originally blue, to match the palette of the rest of the site, “but no one used it.” So they changed the color to red–an alarm color–and clicking skyrocketed.”

Cal Newport

Likes is a behavioral addiction, the drive for social approval. Many are caught up in there. Many also believe that anyone can start a popular, revenue-generating blog. I’ve never made any money on any blogs or the podcast that I ran for years. Some can but it is the minority for sure.

It all comes do to this really…

Digital Minimalism: A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

Cal Newport

The average Facebook user uses the site for 50 minutes every day!

Don’t click and don’t comment

Cal Newport

Authors mentioned in the book: Decartes, Newton, Locke, Pascal, Spinoza, Kant, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kierkgaard, and Wittgenstein.

A 2015 study found that teenagers use social media (text messaging and apps) about 9 hours a day on average.

In 90% of your daily life, the presence of a cell phone either doesn’t matter or makes things only slightly more convenient.

Cal Newport


  1. Prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption
  2. Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world
  3. Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions

The Dunbar number of 150 is a theoretical limit of the number of people that a human can successfully keep track of in their social circles. How many “friends” do you have?

Your Time = Their Money

Cal Newport

We all need to read and understand what Cal is telling us. We have fallen asleep and fallen into this new digital world, leaving the real-world behind or at the very least largely ignoring the real-world and real people. This book will hopefully, help you make some changes and wake up!

Book Review | The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life

The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life
by Joshua Becker

Excellent. While Becker goes over quite a bit I wish there was more about the benefits and more about just how to get it done. Details would be very interesting to me as I still struggle with just how much to let go of and how to get the family onboard.

Above is my review from Goodreads right after I finished The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life. Since reading this I have read more on minimalism, and they all seem to state that if we can model minimalism for our family members then eventually they will see all the benefits, and want to make the transition with us. So far, I have found this minimally successful.

Over the course of an average lifetime, because of all the clutter we live in, we will spend 3,680 hours, or 153 days, searching for misplaced items. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list.

Joshua Becker

Josh Becker is kinda famous in this minimalist world. He has a great youtube channel and has influenced others to start their own.

Joshua Becker – What is Minimalism

Minimalism is — the removing of unnecessary possessions so we can better live the life we want as a family.

Joshua Becker

In the book among many other things, he discusses the endowment effect, which is the tendency to consider an object more important than it really is simply because we own it. For example, if I have an Anaheim Ducks mug, I may want to keep it, but if I saw the same thing in a store, I wouldn’t want to buy it. If I don’t like it enough to buy it then why do I need to keep this thing?

Never organize what you can discard.

Joshua Becker

I really love this one. How often do we see something in a drawer and just move it aside or look for a way to better organize it, when we really don’t need that thing at all?

You don’t need more space. You need less stuff.

Joshua Becker

Another great point that Joshua makes it all the time we waste watching tv. He states American’s on average watch 35.5 hours of tv a week. That’s almost a full-time job! Think about what you could do with that time, other than earning an extra income.

Another great one, that American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually. Is that really necessary? I mean, I don’t think anyone really cares what I wear? As long as my clothes fit I don’t think I need any more.

In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. In 2015 that figure was 30 outfits–on for every day of the month.

Joshua Becker

Joshua also tackles the hard one, kids’ toys. He states that toddlers with fewer toys focused better and played more creatively.

Another favorite of mine is the garage. Joshua says, for a quarter of Americans the garage is so cluttered that we can’t even fit our cars in them.

How much did you spend on the holidays this year? Joshua estimates that the American family spends about $1,000 for the winter holidays on gifts. How many of those gifts are then donated or simply thrown away?

He just keeps going, I love all these bits of data he throws in to prove his point and I want to read more of his work. I subscribe to his youtube channel and will continue to follow his work. 4 stars for this book. A must read, if you haven’t gotten to it yet.

Book Review | The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta seems to be recommended reading by every other minimalist. I finally got to it and I’ve got to say his book is minimalist at only 105 pages.

All good stuff in here and it’s a great primer for starting out or just seeing what this minimalist thing is all about. Not to mention a good quick read. Nothing crazy in here either which I really liked.

Some of Leo’s favorite blogs: