Monday, November 3, 2008

Book Simplicity


I was all set to do a post about books that encourage and/or inspire simplicity until I realized that aimee over at Cage Free Family sort of beat me to it. Here is select list of some of the stuff people suggested on her blog:

*Real Food, Nina Planak

*How Far to Follow? The Martyrs of Atlas, Bernardo Olivera

*Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

*Like Water For Chocolate

*Fifth Sacred Thing, Starhawk

*The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

*Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon

*Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig

*The Passion, Jeanette Winterson

*Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson

*Gilead, Marilyn Robinson

*The Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon

What about you, my dear reader? What books have comforted you during dark times; nourished your love for nature, family, and friends; guided you as you took that next step on your own personal journey?

I know that, at least for me, it is all about The Alchemist.


Craigers said...

Funny you should ask this question at this time. My selection for the month of November on my blog is "The Blue Bear : A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild" by Lynn Schooler. It's a true story about unlikely friendship and some great adventures in Alaska.

Anonymous said...

A Womans Walden by Ruth Spinnager. I just love this book,I've had for years and never tire of reading it.

bill h said...

Excellent question. I suppose if I had to pick one, The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality

by Henri J. M. Nouwen It's short and a very nice description of contemplative life. He introduced me to Merton.

Anonymous said...

The Long Winter by Laura Ingells Wilder.

Sharon J said...

The only one of those I've read is Little Women and that was donkey's years ago. I have read lots of other books though but right now I can't think which of them inspired me :)

Anonymous said...

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman and the Monkeywrench Gang by Edward Abbey are two favorites that spring to mind. :-)

Anonymous said...

"A Still Forest Pool" by Ajahn Chah

Even simpler, you can read it free online:

"Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect any praise or reward. If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom. Your struggles with the world will have come to an end."

Carrot said...

"Little Women"? Seriously? Sexism, colonialism and the frontier life! You should read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It's pretty mind-blowing. It's kind of like The Alchemist only weightier and with more words. :)

seekingsimplicity said...

Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews and The Simple Living Guide (I don't know the author of that one).

Jenelle said...

As a librarian I love answering questions like these. If you are looking for older books you will find Henry David Thoreau's book called Walden of interest. He was a friend of the Alcott's. Ralph Waldo Emerson also had a number of essays. A more contemporary author that comes to mind is Barbara Kingsolver - start with her most recent work, Animal Vegetable, Mineral. A cautionary tale can be found in a book called Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I would give you more, but those are the first that come to mind.

Marissa said...

The Alchemist is a good one, but I have to give my e-hat tip to The Fountainhead. Even though Roark is a bit robotic at times, he's sort of the ultimate symbol of seeking truth in a big cess-pool of falsehoods. And he builds sweet skyscrapers.

Elizabeth Halt said...

at the moment, I am loving "If the Buddha Got Stuck", but I have too many favorites to list. I think the only one on that list I've read is Little Women, though I never saw it as related to simplicity at all. Interesting .. I do have the Zen .. book but have never gotten around to reading it yet.

stranger in a strange van said...

how about "the culture of make believe" by derrick jensen. and "participating in nature" by thomas elpel. both very valuable in different ways.

Kandice said...

Not a book, but a poem by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Anonymous said...

This is a movie, not a book, but the Japanese film, Ikiru, is a truly inspiring story about achieving your personal goals, no matter what. It's a movie that manages to deliver a lot of messages--about following your dreams, dealing with bureaucratic BS and political grandstanding, to name just a few--for a seemingly simple movie about a frustrated civil service worker. I highly recommend it.

Olivia said...

"The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. While spiritually-based (if that's your thing), it really made me reevaluate my priorities in life. I originally checked this out from the library, but I want to purchase this to reread and mark up for myself.

Jack said...

This is all great stuff. I'm going to have to book the next five years to finish all of these up...

Me said...

I need to read more apparently.... I like to mix my books up a bit and I can take any book and pull excellent points from it...

My favorite is still The Celestine Prophecy... a lot of mumbo jumbo but the key part I hold dear is that there is no such thing as coincidence... everyone you meet has a purpose in your life, a reason or a lesson, something we can take for ourselves.

Another favorite (cause I'm a mommy) is "Love You Forever"...

I'll even tell ya this... I recently just finished Chelsea Handler's "Are You There Vodka? It's me Chelsea"... nothing about simplicity in this book but laughing out loud is great medicine as well...

Sometimes books about simplicity can inspire me but only for short periods of time and I try to break it down to facts (I have a horrible habit of this) I end up doubting or doing what I said before... only taking away what I needed from the book...

Sorry, no in depth reading advice coming from me... just my ramblings :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe no one's mentioned the Nearings! The Good Life and Continuing the Good Life. I second Ishmael, and especially it's sequels.

Nina said...

Little late here but.....

I would have to say the books that have inspired me most have been alternative parenting books (such as Dumbing us Down, etc..) Not just because I have children but because I was parented- I was programed to think the way I do now. You know, the idea that you must succeed to be worth something- that we are defined by what we do, instead of who we are and that theres a set way to get 'there'. These books lead me to think about why I do what I do. Do I do it for external validation or internal? When you challenge all the norms of how you were raised it is life changing. Almost like the Matrix or something, lol.

thanks for the book rec btw. I picked up 'The Alchemist' the other day ;-)

Nicola said...

from my childhood: the laura ingells wilder series.

a recent read: eat pray love by elizabeth gilbert (i think that is her last name!)

and i agree with the henry david thoreau suggestions.

Anonymous said...

So many books, so little space to leave a comment:

First You Have to Row a Little Boat - Richard Bode

Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff

A River Runs Through It - Norman McLean - the description of fly fishing alone will make you weep.

Book that lets me know the world is a scary place worthy of my effort to seek redemption -

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families - Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch.

I read the Rwanda book and could not read 50 pages without shedding tears. It is valuable for the catharsis and understanding how cruel the world can be. We can no longer turn our heads to these awful crimes against humanity.

Anonymous said...

Promise you won't laugh?

Once when I had way too much on my mind, I read a book called "The Coming Plague". Absolutely nothing inspirational about it at all. It's more like a biology text that explains just HOW a viral doomsday could come. But it gave me something outside of myself to think about. And the book was fascinating too.

Anonymous said...


Narcissus and Goldmund

Anonymous said...

While I enjoyed The Passion and Like Water for Chocolate, I see no indication that they are pro-simplicity, except that The Passion is somewhat short, and Like Water for Chocolate contains some implausible-sounding recipes.

david said...

I agree with Anonymous -

Two of Hermann Heese's masterworks:

Narcissus and Goldmund



You can read both in a week; they provide food for thought for quite a bit longer.

Chari said...

The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be commenting so long after the fact. I'm just getting around to reading the older posts!

I would say:
Trader by Charles DeLint;
Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler;
The Alternative : Communal life in New America by William Hedgepeth (that's the hippie in me coming out.)
The Seven Storey Mountainby Thomas Merton (and that's the monk/hermit in me!)

Well, back to reading!

Anonymous said...

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

It's online here: