Inspiring reads (for a wet Sunday!)

On my journey to learn more about minimalism and slow living I’ve started to collect a few books that offer hints, tips and guidance. Yes I know this works against the minimalist mantra of having few possessions (especially books) but I like to think that those I keep are valuable to me. I certainly dip into them a lot and find their contents to be very inspirational:

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

I do have a slight crush on this French women who lives with her family in the US, has a beautiful clutter and waste free house and dresses wonderfully using a very small wardrobe. Her book is full of practical tips on how to eliminate waste in your house. For example she goes shopping with bags and glass jars and doesn’t accept any packaging (not even for her meat and fish which goes straight into the jars). For further information take a peak at her website here or watch this fascinating youtube video:


The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

This was the first book on minimalism that I bought (well actually it was the second as I returned the first). It’s written by Francine Jay, aka  Miss Minimalist  and is both a  good introduction to minimalism and a practical guide to decluttering your home and your life.  I often use it when tackling one of my rooms in my never ending quest to reduce stuff.

Timless Simplicity by John Lane.

This beautifully illustrated book was published nearly fifteen years ago. It fits in with the minimalist ethos but talks more about stepping away from a busy, consumer lifestyle and has more of a spiritual dimension to it. It has passages devoted to the simple pleasures of food and eating, the garden, homemaking and just being present in the everyday which I find inspirational to read.

Less is More by Brian Draper.

I picked this up last week in a charity shop. Like the above book it talks more about spirituality and of being present: appreciating the sights, sounds and things going on around you rather than being busy planning the future.

Books by Amanda Blake Soule

Amanda’s Soulemama blog is very popular. She lives a gentle, self sufficient life homeschooling her family in the US. Her blog has beautiful images and words (especially the Friday image posts) and her books are full of handy crafting projects to do with the family. She doesn’t pursue a minimalist lifestyle but she seems to endorse a slow living lifestyle, away from the fast paced consumer driven world.

The Green Parent Magazine

I can’t tell you how much I love this magazine. I started reading it in 2005 when it was very new and (despite my best intentions not to hoard) I have kept every copy since. It is is created in Sussex by a small family unit and speaks to everyone (parent or not) who wants to pursue a gentler lifestyle. I have to confess I have written a few articles for the magazine in the past but don’t let that put you off….

There are also other books which I have read (but not kept), borrowed from the library (or have on order):

 The Power of Less – Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta runs Zen Habits, an extremely popular blog about minimalist living. This book was the first one that I bought on the subject but it didn’t quite fit in with what I needed at the time. It seems to be more about creating a better work-life balance, which wasn’t so relevant to me then. His blog is definitely worth a read, though.

Tom Hodgkinson – How to be an Idle Parent; How to be Idle

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of The Idler magazine, an annual (now online) publication that extolls the virtues of doing nothing, or doing it slowly and taking pleasure in what you do. I borrowed the ‘The Idle Parent’ from the library and loved its laid-back, hands-off approach to parenting.I came across ‘How to be Idle’ in a charity shop but as I had already purchased ‘Less is more’ I decided to order it from the local library and read it at leisure.

The Minimalists – Everything that remains

I was luck enough to catch The Minimalists on their UK book tour last year. I am currently trying to order this from the local library. When you borrow a book from a UK public library the author(s) receives a small fee which is worth bearing in mind when buying/borrowing books.

I’m sure you may have other suggestions to add to this small reading list – I would love to hear them. Happy reading!

January book find and Zero Waste books?

The other weekend we went for a lovely walk to a small riverside hamlet near to where we live. The village has only 40 occupants and a tiny church. The beautiful Cotswold stone cottages made me think how our village must have looked at one point but, because of various factors, ours has now grown to a population size of 2,000.

Yet even in this tiny hamlet we came across a source of second-hand goodies. Inside the church was a well-stocked bookshelf. The sale of these books raised funds for the building. My husband and I both picked out books we had wanted to read for a while (depsite my best intentions to slim down our bookshelves!).


I bought this book by Patrick Leigh Fermor. ‘A Time of Gifts’ is the first of a series of three books he wrote about his amazing travels across a pre-war Europe. We plan to travel by train to Italy and Germany later this year and his description of the German towns along the Rhine are very evocative.

Last week I also decided what to spend my Waterstone’s book voucher on. I had been having problems with this as I am trying to reduce our books (see here). However on a trip to Bath I spotted a book I had wanted for ages. I may have mentioned I have a little girl crush on Bea Johnson, the woman behind Zero Waste Home. She lives in California and, along with her family, aspires to live a rubbish free life. Anyway looking very lonely on the bookshelf in Waterstones was this single copy of Bea’s book:


Yes, I realise there is something ironic about buying a book on Zero Waste (especially when I am trying to Reduce, which is one of Bea’s ‘Five Rs’). But I have already read it cover to cover and it has given me loads of ideas and inspiration.

As for the Patrick Leigh Fermor book I picked up, I plan to pass this on/donate when I’ve finished. I’m also slowly building a pile of books to lend out or read once and then pass on.