Book Review – Everything that remains

 

Author – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

There are some books that you read where you would not want them to end. ‘Everything that remains’ is one that made me feel so. The book is more a memoir by the author, Joshua, on how he chanced about the concept of minimalism and the impact that it had on his life. We are given the opportunity to be an invisible bug on Joshua’s shoulder and live through various moments in his life.

 

Although Joshua would like to become a writer, he is stuck in his full-time job as director of operations at a retail chain in the US. With daily stand-up meetings and aggressive goals to achieve, he is forever busy and under constant stress. He has no friends outside of work & no time to build his social network. His last exercise was sometime during college and he is quite a few pounds overweight. However, the hefty paycheck during the end of month makes all his sacrifices seem worthwhile.

 

Or does it?

 

He does not love his job but stays on as he is good at it. Being the youngest director in the history of the company, he is constantly pushing himself to over-deliver. He is on the fast track in life and there are higher positions to achieve.

 

And of course, there are bills to pay. He is a firm favorite for all credit card companies, a collector of books, home decors, suits, party wear shirts, summer shirts, winter clothes, x-mas sales, Easter sales, valentines day sales, home loans, car loans etc etc. In fact, his bills total more than his earnings.

 

But alas, the hike in salary that he will get during his next title change will offset the difference!

 

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Joshua is in a meeting when he gets a call from his mother. As expected, he puts his mobile on silent. It is only in the evening that he hears her voicemail and gets to know that she is dying of cancer.

 

A few months and few visits later, Joshua’s mom dies. In the same month, his marriage of five years ends. This double tragedy completely rocks his life. He realizes that he has messed up life’s priorities. Is working hard and rising up the corporate ladder the most important priority in life? Is it your life’s purpose to amass a ton of stuff and possessions to display to the world to gain their appreciations and acceptance into their society?

 

The quest for answers leads Joshua to something life changing – Minimalism.

 

Read the book to learn about how he went about becoming a minimalist and how he managed to sustain a life without a five-figure income,with only a tenth of his possessions, meet great and interesting people , write and publish books & fall in love. As you read on, you might even question some of your choices in life, work and beyond.

 

 

 

PS: If you want the ebook for free, below is how you get it.

Everything That Remains and Minimalism—available as a free PDF for our audience. If you want to read either (or both), simply go to our Gumroad page, enter $0 in the price box, and download the book(s) of your choice. 

If you’d prefer to purchase a book, both titles are available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats here.

The Joy of Less – A book review

As a reader of this blog, I am sure you already know that I am smitten by the minimalism bug. For those of you who do not know yet what minimalism is, it is the concept of owning less things through intentional living in a manner that we only indulge in those that add value to our lives.

Ever since my tryst with minimalism, I have taken some measures to simplify my life:

  1. I reduced the number of shirts I use, frankly because I hated ironing them. I now have a white shirt and a black one for formal occasions and one shirt that I use for more social occasions. I have switched to wearing T shirts to work. Trust me, they are far more comfortable.
  2. I am giving away some devices that have just been sitting at home, unused. Hope they find better use than they did at my place.
  3. I packed up unused items provided by my house owner and stored them away in a far away place. My kitchen now has a bit more space for the regularly used items to dock themselves.
  4. I have setup a blocker in my browser that limits my social networking time to 10 minutes during a work hours. Though my productivity has not improved, I am writing more often as my mind is less cluttered by news feeds of others’ activities.
  5. I have also spent considerable time unsubscribing from various emails, disabled pop-ups from various news/sports apps and even whatsapp. Though “phantom vibrations”  were felt from time to time, the withdrawal is now complete and I don’t feel the urge to check my mobile every 10 minutes.
  6. With the free time I got, I am now able to devote more attention to things I love – Solving those 1000 pieces puzzles and actually reading a few books

Now that I could see more benefits of living an intentional life, I wanted to take the next steps in minimalism. This was when I came across “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay being mentioned quite often as one of the best books on living a minimalist life.

I found the tone of the book to be pretty light and breezy to read. It felt more like the author was talking to me rather than writing to me. This helps to make things fun and also keep my mind open to the ideas being suggested.

The book starts off with some philosophy about minimalism and why one should embrace it. For someone that was already sold on the concept, this served as positive reinforcement to the benefits of minimalism.

 

Next was a framework to minimize your stuff. This laid some basis on how to go about decluttering things from your house and also ensuring that things stay the same way post the process. I liked the way Francine brought to our attention, some of the methods through which stuff accumulates without our knowledge.

The concept of having circles to describe the placement of things around oneself makes a lot of sense. The inner circle would be those that one uses daily, the second circle would be those that we use often but not on a daily basis and the outer circle would be those that can be kept away for longer periods of time but still cannot be completely removed.

And the rest, you have permission to let go!

But wait, Francine gives you suggestions about what to do with these excess. There are many ways to dispose off them which can ensure that they find better homes or owners and also do not damage the environment with our excessive dumping.

Overall I feel that this book is a good read for those who want exposure to minimalism and are looking for ways to declutter their homes. Though the book speaks about issues we face, going from room, once can choose to pick the sections that concern them.

One aspect that I feel was completely neglected was applying minimalism to people’s digital exploits. The book was very focused on decluttering physical  objects that there was, pardon the irony, less room to discuss meta-physical decluttering.

To follow Francine Jay please visit – http://www.missminimalist.com/

Feel free to comment 🙂

Book review – Doing good better – William MacAskill

Hailing from a conservative Indian family where we are taught to extract maximum value out of every penny or item, I found “Doing good better” to be extremely appealing. I have had reservations against donating money, the greatest one being that I did not have much to spare and hence would not give it for those causes with minimal impact. So I had to educate myself which program was the best and this book helped me gain clarity.

It has been five years since I graduated from my Masters program and I have missed graphs and statistics. I have always had a fascination towards topics where popular assumptions are broken down through logic, reasoning and most importantly, numbers. For those of you who love reading such a genre of articles, this book will appeal to your intellect.

The book provides a great starting point to evaluate various organizations and causes to gauge their effectiveness and impact. But that expectation is a given considering the title is “Doing good better”. Having said that, I am now aware of a few causes that do real good; capable of asking valid questions & qualifiers before parting with my money for any causes. Moreover, I am well aware of how much I can be influenced and drawn towards certain causes and well publicized events where the impact of my donation would not really make much difference in the overall scheme of things. My latest blog on “Why I won’t donate to the Manchester bombing” is based on some of the concepts outlined in this book. So, in essence, this book has more than “met expectations” and delivered to promise of educating me of how to do good, better.

I also found some sections of the book irrelevant for me and would happily skip those if I reread the book. For example, I am already too deep into my career to consider a path more aligned with effective altruism. Also, I do not for one bit find it practical for me to evaluate between a PHD or a computer science degree, keeping altruism as the end goal. As the saying goes, we Indians become engineers first before figuring out what we want to become in our lives.

In summary, read this book if you :

  1. Are remotely interested in doing good to the world
  2. Like the use of logical & data driven arguments to overcome popular assumptions
  3. Are convinced the one individual cannot make a significant difference to the world
  4. Want to choose between eating chicken/beef or ham, keeping in mind the environment/animals themselves