“For all intents and purposes, this is a book of advice. The thoughts, experiments, strategies and recommendations herein are our advice to you. Whatever stage of life you’re in right now, this book can help improve the most important things in your life…”
I can’t help but mention that the first thing that struck me about this book is that the cover is in COLOR! If you’re familiar with Joshua and Ryan’s work you know that black and white photos are prevalent on their website. Seeming to pick on them about the use of color isn’t intended for you to view as criticism but instead to make it intentionally clear to you that this is no ordinary product from the curators of theminimalists.com. They are breaking new ground here.
If -like me- you’ve followed along on Ryan and Joshua’s personal journey on their blog for the last year you will have gleaned a few details about their personal lives along the way. But the first chapter of this book lays bare all the personal details you could wish to know about these two men. You will read about their pasts in unflinching descriptions that certainly solidify the notion that they are walking the walk, not just talking the talk. The opening chapter had me saying “Wow” out loud a couple times as well as internally a few more than that.
This is not a book that will teach you how to be a minimalist. There’s no advice here on how to consolidate your DVD collection or how many pairs of black socks you need to own. There are plenty of step-by-step books on the market that will get you from cluttered to clean. Rather, this book seems to me like it’s an advanced class in living as a minimalist, instead of being one. If you’ve already passed Minimalism 101 and have successfully detached yourself from your extraneous stuff this is your graduate course in how to live your life meaningfully and pursue the life you truly want to have.
The book’s chapters are set up in a manner where you can treat each section as a lesson of it’s own. As Joshua and Ryan state in the text, you could certainly read through this book in a couple days but it’s recommended to read a chapter a day for a week in order to help you better absorb and reflect on the subject matter.
Subjects covered in the book are Health, Relationships, Passions, Growth and Contribution. Inside each chapter is advice about how to improve your life in that particular area. The advice is gentle but firm and personal stories from the two authors are interspersed with soul searching questions all geared toward helping you improve your life. The book is not meant to be a one time read, the resources within will be great to revisit on occasion to keep yourself on track towards a meaningful life.
This new book is not the same as their previously published book Minimalism: Essential Essays. There’s a bit of overlap in subject matter between the 2 titles, but both stand on their own as separate books. I would consider them companion volumes, each helpful and insightful.
The only real criticism I have about the book is the title. Calling the book Minimalism: Living a Meaningful Life isn’t as accurate a title as something like “Living a Meaningful Life.” There are a few elements of minimalist living within the book, but it’s just not a major part of the book’s broader mission for the reader.
My personal recommendation is to buy this book to help you make the most of your life, but keep this book to use as reference material as you reflect on growth and changes you make in your life.