I first heard about Joshua Becker while reading Cozy Minimalist Home. In it, Myquillin Smith talks about Becker’s first (very popular) book, The More of Less, and how it inspired her to look at her house and her possessions in a new, more minimalist, light. I’ve never read The More of Less, but when I saw that Becker was coming out with a new book, I jumped on the chance to read it.
The Minimalist Home is a helpful and motivational read, though it’s not perfect. The book is divided into twelve sections. The first two sections give an overview of minimalism, as well as advice on how to eliminate items from your house (have goals for your home’s spaces, start cleaning out the easy spaces first, involve the whole family, have fun with the process, etc.).
In our overcrowded homes today, most possessions are not truly “belongings.” They are only distracting us from the things that do belong.Joshua Becker
The next eight sections go room-by-room through a typical house, covering common problems and solutions in the living room, family room, master and other bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, the laundry area, kitchen, dining room, office, storage spaces, and the garage. Becker lists questions to ask yourself as you’re deciding what to keep, what to donate, and what to toss. He also gives helpful benchmarks for knowing when you’ve decluttered enough (e.g., Is my living room now a calming space? Are my kids sleeping better in their bedrooms? Do my clothes hang freely in the closet?) The last two sections give a plan for keeping the house clean and minimized (e.g., recognize triggers for over-buying, manage gift-giving, etc.)
Have the courage to build your life around what is really most important to you.Joshua Becker
For the most part, I enjoyed reading Becker’s advice. Some positive aspects of this book:
- He is insightful and even made some points about minimalism that I hadn’t thought of before. (I love when someone can tell me something I don’t already know, especially on a subject I am very familiar with.)
- I don’t have a craft room, but I like how he encourages hobby-enthusiasts to get rid of their “fantasy selves.” Donate the extra fishing poles, gym equipment, craft supplies, etc., to someone who will actually use them. “Be who you are, not who you wished to be.”
- I also appreciate that he talks about living a minimalist digital life, giving tips for tidying up the computer desktop, digital files, phone apps, etc. Not everyone talks about this, but it’s important.
I do have a couple small gripes with this book, though. Becker can be long-winded and repetitive, taking way too long to make a point that’s already understood. The book is also a little heavy on the self-promotion. I get that Becker wants to make his book tweetable and build a brand, but I grew tired of the #hashtagthis! suggestions and the repeated mention of his accomplishments (I REPEAT, I HAVE INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS!).
The biggest drawback for me, though, is how serious the book can be. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a quick read and I like the overall message. But Becker tends to use intense change as the motivation to minimize. He repeatedly gives examples of how people’s lives are transformed from minimizing. Look at this lady: she cleaned out her house! Then became a missionary to poor countries!! Then adopted an orphan from Guatemala!!! Now she’s fulfilled and happy!!!! I agree that minimalism has the power to transform, but I also think it’s okay to go into the process with lower expectations and smaller, more realistic goals. I’m not looking to adopt a refugee from Syria. I just need to be able to find my keys, you know?
Still, I enjoyed this book. It gives clear step-by-step advice that makes minimizing feel doable. I didn’t always love the seriousness of Becker’s anecdotes, but I did appreciate his message. This is an important and helpful guide to eliminating the excess in our lives so we can live more fully.
Big thank you to Joshua Becker, WaterBrook, and Net Galley for the ARC!