Thursday, March 27, 2008

Living Simply

Monica recently loaned me a book she'd enjoyed called Living Simply by Joanne Heim.

I am glad I read it, but I don't plan to add this title to my collection. While conversing with a friend who had also read the book, I agreed with some of her reactions. This friend mentioned she had looked for more of an "earthy" tone to the book: "I love the writer's ideas of family and hospitality and being intentional about all you do, but I also think living simply involves frugality, resourcefulness, and environmental responsibilty." I heartily agree with that statement. Of course we all have different definitions of simplicity, and I think my definition probably varies some from that of the author's. I'm not saying my understanding of simplicity is right and someone else's is wrong, and I don't disagree with Heim's definition as stated in the book ("a simple life is centered on people rather than things," "a simple life is focused rather than scattered"), I just feel there were elements of simple living which were absent from the book (such as those listed above).

As with Frugal Luxuries, there were sections and quotes from the book that I enjoyed. Like Monica, I appreciated Heim's references to Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables as models of simplicity. I have often wondered how Ma would have entertained a bustling toddler, especially in a one-room house!

I nodded along with this paragraph: "I wonder why the word homemaker sounds so funny to my ears in this day and age. Because when I stop to think about it, making a home is a really cool thing. In fact, the word encompasses much of what I do as a wife and mother. Our home provides my family a place of refuge and safety, a place for rest and relaxation. Our home is a setting in which we make memories and create our life together."

I appreciated the chapter on the importance of the Sabbath, and Heim's insights about how to incorporate rest on that day and set it apart as a covenant with God. "How do we take Sabbath in a world that never stops? When life moves on around us without slowing down for a rest, it's hard to imagine stepping back and resting as God desires."

Towards the end of the book, Heim acknowledges that "there's no perfect recipe for living simply. What is simple and works for my family may not work for yours. There's no one-size-fits-all simple life. The point is to choose wisely--to know what you're choosing for your family, and why." Heim of course shared what works for her family, and it's fun to read her stories and examples. I appreciate her thoughts on simplicity, even though simple living looks different for me.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? Any suggestions for other books on this subject? By the way, you can read Monica's review here--she loved this one and thus offers a different perspective from mine.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your impressions of this book, which I would also like to read. It is correct, of course, that simple living means different things to each person. I think of Thoreau's observation about "living deliberately" -- thinking about what is important to us and how we want to live!

You asked for suggestions of other books on simple living -- I have two books that I would be glad to share with you if you want: A Place Called Simplicity by Claire Cloninger and The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. Other books I have read include Nothing's Too Small to Make a Difference and Simple Living by Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering and 30 Days to a Simpler Life by Cris Evatt and Connie Cox, as well as some of Elaine St. James' books on living simply.

Thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom

Amy said...

I just finished a book called, "Simple Prosperity" by David Wann and it truly was a life-changing book for me. It is a bit dry in the beginning, but I think it is worth plowing through to learn about sustainable living and and how to lead a simple, but fruitful life.

Thank you for your book review too- I need to work on a few reviews of my own (particularly about that book I just suggested)!!

Megan D. Crow said...

I read the book a while the 'beginning' stages of us turning to a simpler/greener life.

I must say, I wasn't impressed either. I can't remember exactly - because it was over 1 year (or 2?) ago - but I didn't find much of it very motivating. The sabbath chapter was a good reminder.

I checked it out from the library, so I was glad I hadn't spent my money on it. I have several simple living books on my self that I've purchased - but haven't had time to read. I am think they'll be a little better.

Katie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these books Carrie. I've been looking into similar reads, but hadn't picked up these titles. I am finishing the one by Sleeth that you did a series on and am almost finished. (Lots of interruptions.) :-) One book I received as a gift when we first got married was "The Tightwad Gazette"...I've seen it mentioned on several blogs (maybe even yours!). I like lots of things that has to offer about being resourceful and frugal as well.

I have a few books I'm going to try to post about soon. I love your reviews! They're very helpful!

Ewokgirl said...

I haven't read that one.

I highly recommend The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. I've read it several times, as it has become a favorite.

thehomespunheart said...

Carrie - thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I did like the book - but I also agree with some of the things you shared. I find that when i review a book - I always want to share all of the positive things about it. I think I took all the positive things I liked and rolled them into overall liking the book!

I appreciate your perspective!