Book Review: The Minimalist Home

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

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Multnomah/Waterbrook Press.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

No one who knows my habits of book collecting would figure me to be someone who could argue for a minimalist home, and the only thing that keeps my clutter from being worse is a simple absence of space to fill with things rather than any sort of minimalist view towards the acquisition of possessions.  At times, my dutiful collection of a massive library [1] has led to entertaining situations to wonder about the sort of possessions that we are most likely to hoard.  There are ironies in the fact that a book about decluttering and reducing possessions is likely to be a part of increasing clutter relating to the possession of books that continually increases [2] despite my own occasional and generally half-hearted efforts to arrest this increase.  Like many people, I struggle with the issue of clutter, and like many people this clutter leads to unnecessary duplication of items and the waste of significant effort in trying to find things that I am looking for, as well as the concern that exists over the preservation of my mountain of stuff.

This book of a bit more than 200 pages is divided into three parts and twelve chapters.  The author begins with a look at the reader, starting with an appeal for the reader to engage in a minimalist makeover (1) along with a discussion of the Becker method at removing clutter from one’s life (2), something that is repeated often with varying degrees of emphasis throughout the book.  The second part of the book takes a systematic look at places in one’s house where clutter can be removed, starting with the living room and family room (3), moving to bedrooms and guest rooms (4), seeking a simple and iconic look by cleaning one’s closets and “mudroom” (5), making a clean sweep of the bathrooms and laundry rooms (6), decluttering the kitchen and dining rooms by removing specialized items and taking control of surfaces (7), freeing the mind by cleaning the home office (8), unburdening oneself from past hobbies and too many toys (9), and clearing out the garage and yard (10).  After a special section for maintaining one’s minimalistic approach, the author closes with a look at the future with chapters on advising people to get a smaller house than one can afford to reduce various costs (11) and a discussion on how changing one’s lifestyle to a more minimalistic one has implications and repercussions in other aspects of our lives (12).

To be sure, the author engages in a slight bit of overselling his point.  It is natural and human for writers to think that what they are talking about is something of pivotal and even universal importance that is being ignored or neglected, and at times the author seems like an evangelist for decluttering rather than a minister for Christ who happens to urge believers to live in a more simplified manner.  Given that the author has written multiple volumes on this subject, that impression seems to be an accurate one.  Even so, the author is correct that far too many of us have far too many things and that our things own us as much as or more than we own them.  Likewise, our ability to show hospitality and generosity is often hindered by our clutter, both over our shame and concern about being judged as hoarders as well as in the fact that our acquisition of things and stuff hinders our ability to be open-hearted to those who go without.  Even if I think the author is guilty of some excess in trying to make his point, it must be conceded that the author’s advice is timely and wise and should be taken by a lot more people.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/22/a-personal-library/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/01/09/the-accidental-traveling-librarian-or-the-material-culture-of-nomads/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/02/24/the-people-of-wal-mart/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/10/book-review-the-life-changing-manga-of-tidying-up/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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