30 Days to a Simpler Life by Connie Cox and Cris Evatt (New York: The Penguin Group, 1998). Practical guide for organizing living spaces, including offices, wardrobes, photos, books, and magazines. Travel, financial planning, and leisure are also covered.
Addicted to Hurry: Spiritual Strategies for Slowing Down by Kirk Byron Jones ( Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2003). Thoughtful reflections by former pastor and now teacher of social ethics and pastoral ministry on how chronic speed is constantly diminishing our lives relationally, emotionally, and spiritually and what we can do to live more soulful, sane lives.
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor (San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2001). Explores the personal, social, economic, and environmental costs of overconsumption in North America. Suggests strategies for rebuilding families and communities, respecting the earth, and restoring personal health and sanity in a world suffering from excess.
American Manic: When More is not Enough by Peter Whybrow ( New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005). A persuasive detailing of the stress, overwork, and rampant dissatisfaction that saturates modern American life.
The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron ( New York: J.P. Tarcher, 10th edition, 2002). Bestselling book guides the reader through 12 weeks of reflections and exercises designed to open up the paths to creativity. You don't need to be an artist to benefit from this book. Cameron recommends a daily practice of morning pages, a free-form writing exercise, which can also serve as a spiritual practice.
Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took over America, and How We Can Take It Back by Jane Holtz Kay (Berkeley: University of California Press, Reprint 1998). Examines the growth of automobile use in America and its impact on our culture, the environment, and the economy. Kay also suggests economic, political, architectural, and personal solutions to "car glut."
The Best Things in Life Aren't Things: Celebrating What Matters Most by Joann Davis ( Boston: Beacon Press, 2003). This collection of short essays takes the reader on an inner journey to reflect on what's most important in life. The author examines America's predilection toward a lifestyle of excessive consumption and offers inspirational antidotes and alternatives.
Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society by Jeff Davidson ( Chapel Hill, NC: Breathing Space Institute, Revised 2000). Explores the complex life of the typical, working North American-too rushed and harried, overwhelmed with too many choices, working too many hours, and insufficient sleep. Suggests ways to create more breathing space by taking responsibility for how you spend your time and what you allow to be a part of your environment.
Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore (New York: Harper Perennial, Reprinted 1994). Former Catholic monk and therapist writes about the loss of soul in modern society and suggests ways to nurture the soul, cultivate depth, and develop inner peace in today's world.
Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World by Linda Breen Pierce (Carmel, CA: Gallagher Press, 2000). Features wide range of real life stories of people who have simplified their lives. Offers guidance on how to integrate lessons derived from these diversified life examples.
Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Lifeby Cecile Andrews (New York: Harper Collins, 1997). Foremost leader in the development of voluntary simplicity study circles explores themes integral to simplicity, including finding your passion, living authentically, connecting with community, and spirituality. Includes guide for forming study circle.
Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet by Jeff Campbell (New York: Dell Publishing, 1992). Discusses both the physical and psychological aspects of managing material possessions. Suggests ways to minimize the negative impact of too much clutter.
Clutter's Last Stand: It's Time to De-Junk Your Life by Don Aslett (Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1984). Discusses the stuff in our lives-why we buy it, why we hoard it well beyond its pleasurable or useful life, and how to let go of it. Also explores mental clutter, such as money (tracking it, investing it, and managing it), people, and activities that complicate your life.
The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists by Michael Brower and Warren Leon (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999) . In a well-researched and very practical guide, the Union of Concerned Scientists offer advice in reconciling your environmental conscience with your consumer needs.
Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth by John Robbins (Novato, CA: H J Kramer, 1998). Fact-filled expose on the impact of America's meat and dairy agribusiness on our health and the health and well-being of the earth and its creatures. Advocates elimination or at least a reduction of meat and animal products in the diet.
Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood by Marsha Sinetar (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, Reissued 1989). An inspirational best seller, the author contends that it is possible to do work that you enjoy while also providing for your material needs. Explores concept of right livelihood and describes various paths people have taken to experience it.
Downshifting: How to Work Less and Enjoy Life More by John D. Drake ( San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2001). Psychologist and former CEO of large human resources consulting firm discusses negative impact of excessive work hours and offers practical advice on how to downsize. Reviews options such as flextime schedules, gradual retirement plans, and requesting a lower level job within the same organization.
The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins ( Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001). Sequel to bestselling book, Diet for a New America, this book explores impacts of various diets and their attendant food manufacturing practices on personal health, the treatment of animals, and the sustainability of the earth. Reviews a broad range of subjects, including global hunger and genetic engineering.
Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster (New York: Harper, 1998). Christian-oriented book proposing a biblical basis for the principles of voluntary simplicity. Offers guidance on how to live simply in a complex world using the power of prayer and solitude.
Graceful Simplicity: Toward a Philosophy and Politics of Simple Living by Jerome M. Segal (New York: Henry Holt, 1999). Philosopher and political activist contends that the grass roots self-help approach to simple living is inadequate to effectuate lasting changes in our culture. Proposes political and social changes to our cultural and financial institutions.
The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser ( Boston: MIT Press, 2002). Psychology professor offers a scientific explanation of how our contemporary culture of consumerism and materialism affects our everyday happiness and psychological health, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and problems with intimacy.
Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé ( New York: J.P. Tarcher, 2002). Sequel to bestselling book, Diet for a Small Planet, published thirty years earlier, Frances Moore Lappé and her daughter, Anna Lappé, present arguments for a vegetarian diet in the context of personal health, the world economy, and global hunger. Includes stories from the authors' journey around the world where they discovered many examples of people using organic, food producing alternatives.
How Much is Enough?: The Consumer Society and the Future of the Earth by Alan Durning (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992). Provides a comprehensive overview of the consumer society-how we got to where we are, the damage done to the earth by the consumer class, and the striking lack of fulfillment resulting from the consumer way of life. The author argues that true fulfillment comes from the nonmaterial aspects of life, such as relationships, work, and leisure.
How to Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence by Timothy Miller, Ph.D. (New York: Avon, 1996). Clinical psychologist explores the human tendency to always want more and the lack of connection between material wealth and happiness. Offers an alternative path to happiness, based on the practices of compassion, attention, and gratitude.
Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul by Elaine St. James (New York: Hyperion, 1995). Short essays of a how-to nature focusing on the inner life of simplicity.
Lilabean: A Story of Simplicity for Grown-up Girls by K.C. White ( Elizabeth City, NC: Bean Pot Press, 2002). A delightful storybook written in verse detailing one woman's evolution from being overwhelmed with clutter and not enough time to creating a life of simplicity and joy. This book would be a great gift for a woman friend who is simplifying her life.
Living from the Center: Spirituality in an Age of Consumerism by Jay McDaniel (Chalice Press, 2001). Drawing on diverse sources, including the Christian tradition, McDaniel explores spirituality that embraces daily sustainability.
Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Self-Discovery by Marsha Sinetar (New York: Paulist Press, 1986). Presents real life stories of people who have explored their inner selves as part of the process of becoming whole. While the book does not focus specifically on voluntary simplicity, most of the people featured live simply.
The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need by Juliet B. Schor (New York: HarperCollins, 1999). Explores America's relationship with its spending patterns-why and how we spend and consume-focusing on the psychological motivations for excessive spending, including the desire to gain status relative to others. Profiles people who have downshifted as an alternative to a life heavily based on consumerism.
The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure by Juliet B. Schor (New York: BasicBooks, Reprinted 1993). Discusses the evolution of American culture of work and consumerism, the work-and-spend treadmill. Charts the loss of leisure in America and offers compelling arguments for restructuring our work to provide more time for living.
Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity by Catherine Whitmire (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2001). Using the wisdom of present-day Quakers and Quaker elders, Whitmire explores the dimensions of living a simple and spiritually enriching lifestyle, including ways to create a world free of physical and spiritual clutter.
Putting Family First: Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World by William Doherty and Barbara Carlson ( New York: Owl Books, 2002). Founders of family advocacy organization present guide to restore balance in family life. They offer tips for establishing family rituals, such as a shared family meal, to enhance communication and connection within the family.
Raising Kids with Just a Little Cash by Lisa Reid (Santa Fe, NM: Ferguson-Carol Publishers, 1996). Book packed with practical advice on how to save money when it comes to kids-on clothing, toys, entertainment, education, birthdays, food, health, travel, and holidays. It would be particularly appealing to people who enjoy creative hand-making activities.
A Reasonable Life: Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existence by Ferenc Maté ( Pflugerville, TX: Albatross Publishing, 2 nd edition, 2000). Presents a compelling, witty, radical and passionate diatribe on the state of American society, with corresponding suggestions on how to turn our world back right-side-up.
Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet: Work Time, Consumption, & Ecology by Anders Hayden ( London: Zed Books, 2000). Discusses how work time reduction can contribute to reducing persistent unemployment and environmental degradation in industrial societies. Describes a range of possibilities, including a shorter working week, early retirement and parental leave. Explores political, economic, and cultural obstacles to work time reduction.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach (New York: Warner, 1995). Bestselling book of short essays written for women. Explores themes such as harmony, gratitude, authentic creative expression, and spirituality.
The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet Luhrs (New York: Broadway Books, 1997). Comprehensive guide on various aspects of simple living, including time, money, inner simplicity, work, simple pleasures and romance, virtues, families, holidays, cooking and nutrition, health and exercise, housing, clutter, gardening and travel.
Simple Loving: A Path to Deeper, More Sustainable Relationships by Janet Luhrs ( New York: Penguin USA, 2000). Sourcebook to show readers how to apply the principles of simplicity to develop deeper, more passionate, and more loving relationships. Includes inspirational quotes, effective relationship practices, and recommended resources.
Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective by Michael Schut, editor (Denver, CO: Living the Good News, 1999). Diversified collection of essays written by experts in the simplicity movement offers excellent overview of the principles of voluntary simplicity.
Simplicity: Finding Peace by Uncluttering Your Life by Kim Thomas (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999). Discusses simplicity from a religious point of view, as a tool to enhance one's relationship to God. Reviews the benefits of simplicity as it applies to the physical world, the relational and emotional world, and the spiritual world.
Simplicity: Notes, Stories and Exercises for Developing Unimaginable Wealth by Mark A. Burch (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 1995). Explores the spiritual nature of voluntary simplicity, mindfulness, direct personal involvement in everyday living, mindfulness, direct personal involvement in everday living, ecological issues such as reducing waste and consumption, sustainable development, and greater equitable distribution of the world’s wealth and resources.
Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James (New York: Hyperion, 1994). Classic popular bestseller offering practical tips on simplifying in the areas of career, household, health, social, finance, and personal affairs.
Six Months Off: How to Plan, Negotiate, and Take the Break You Need without Burning Bridges or Going Broke by Hope Dlugozima, James Scott, and David Sharp (New York: Henry Holt, 1996). Comprehensive guide for taking a sabbatical, including advice on making a proposal to your employer, health insurance alternatives, and financing issues.
Slowing Down in a Speeded Up World by Adair Lara (Berkeley: Conari Press, 1994). Collection of essays, anecdotes, and inspirational quotes on how to bring a sense of calm and peacefulness to our hectic, modern lives.
Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things by John C. Ryan and Alan Durning (Seattle: Northwest Environment Watch, 1997). Enlightening read that traces the environmental history and impact of goods consumed by the average American.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (to be published later this year). With groundbreaking research and funny anecdotes, the Harvard psychologist explains the mistakes people make in looking forward, tricked by our imaginations – and what we can do about it.
Take Back Your Time by John de Graaf (ed.) ( San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, September, 2003). A collection of essays written by prominent writers, university professors, social and environmental activists, business leaders, and physicians on the devastating effects of, and creative solutions to, excessive work hours in North America. Also provides guidelines for organizing community events for Take Back Your Time Day, the first of which is scheduled for October 24, 2003.
Taking Time Off: Inspiring Stories of Students Who Enjoyed Successful Breaks from College and How You Can Plan Your Own by Colin Hall and Ron Lieber (New York: Noonday Press, 1996). Relates stories of college students who have taken breaks before, during, or after college to experience a broad range of alternatives, including community service, living in foreign countries, and non-traditional work experiences. Includes practical guidance on planning a break from college.
The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work by Arlie Russell Hochschild ( New York: Owl Books, Reissued 2001). Exposes negative cycle to American trend toward excessive work hours. When parents work too many hours, it creates stress at home, which in turn leads parents to spend more time at work to avoid stress at home. Discusses alternatives and solutions to this dilemma.
Timeshifting: Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life by Stephan Rechtschaffen MD (New York: Doubleday, 1997). Physician/author focuses on how we respond to a faced-paced environment by aligning our own rhythms to that pace and how we can break that reaction to restore a sense of abundant time in our lives.
To Have or To Be? by Erich Fromm (New York: Continuum, Reissued 1996). Author of The Art of Loving explores the differences between the having mode, based on our relationship to things, and the being mode, based on our relationship to other people, the earth, and ourselves.
The Value of Voluntary Simplicity by Richard Gregg (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill, 1936). Philosophical essay on the need and benefits of living more simply. Still relevant for the 21 st century. Author coined term “voluntary simplicity.”
Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich by Duane Elgin (New York: Quill, Revised 1993). Classic seminal text for the modern voluntary simplicity movement. Discusses implications of voluntary simplicity from individual and societal/global points of view.
Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau ( New York: Modern Library, 2000). Classic simplicity tome by the father of simplicity. Reveals author’s experience of living on Walden Pond for two years in the nineteenth century. Inspirational, providing a depth of meaning to the quest for simplicity.
Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn (New York: Hyperion, 1994). Explores practice of meditation in depth. Offers guidelines for cultivating practice of mindfulness.
Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life by Joe Robinson ( New York: Perigee, 2003). Founder of Work to Live Campaign criticizes American practice of excessive work hours and offers suggestions for breaking out of the burn-out trap, getting more vacation time, and working fewer hours.
Write from the Heart: Unleashing the Power of Your Creativity by Hal Zina Bennett ( Novato, CA: New World Library, 2nd edition, 2001). Explores the relationship between spirituality and creativity for writers. New edition includeshelpful exercises to expand your creative powers.
Magazines & Newsletters
Adbusters Magazine [www.adbusters.org/magazine] is published by the Adbusters Media Foundation, a Vancouver, B.C. based non-profit organization committed to force a major paradigm shift in North America and throughout the world towards a more ecologically sustainable environment. In addition to its magazine, the group sponsors anti-commercial campaigns, such as Buy Nothing Day (the day after Thanksgiving), and operates Powershift, an advocacy advertising agency.
Simple Living Oasis [www.simpleliving.com], a quarterly journal edited by Janet Luhrs, author of The Simple Living Guide, offers tips, tools, and inspiration to those who want to live simply. is a newsletter featuring tips on simple living, letters from readers who share their experiences, book reviews and more.
Alternatives for Simple Living [www.simpleliving.org]is a non-profit organization that equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly.The Center for a New American Dream [www.newdream.org] is a not-for-profit membership-based organization that helps individuals and institutions reduce and shift consumption to enhance quality of life and protect the environment.
CarSharing Network [http://www.carsharing.net/] is a rapidly growing network that allows city workers to use cars when they need it, without owning a car.
Declaration of Independence from Overconsumption by Vicki Robbins [http://www.simpleliving.net/ymoyl/fom-paper-01.asp]. This helpful site also includes other pledges, such as "Purge the Urge to Splurge: 50 Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping" and the "Enoughness Pledge."
Good Stuff? A Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Things We Buy [http://www.worldwatch.org/pubs/goodstuff/]. Pamphlet that can be downloaded for free, helps consumers make informed purchases to benefit their health and the environment.
Mindful Canada [www.mindfulcanada.com]is an on-line resource organization for Voluntary Simplicity in Canada.
Mindful Simplicity [www.mindfulsimplicity.com] is a beautifully designed web site that offers various exercises and reflections on mindfulness. The exercises guide the visitor to increase mindfulness in certain ways: to sense, recreate, relax, and center.
Putting Family First [http://www.puttingfamilyfirst.org/] is a grass-roots movement for building communities where family life is honored and celebrated. This organization helps parents work with each other, as well as with schools, churches, neighborhoods, and other community organizations, to develop policies that support family life.
Seeds of Simplicity [www.seedsofsimplicity.org] is a national, non-profit membership organization for the general public centered on voluntary simplicity. It sponsors the Simplicity Circles Project, directed by Cecile Andrews, author of Circle of Simplicity.
Shall We Buy or Rent? by Linda Breen Pierce [http://www.gallagherpress.com/pierce/buyrent.htm] is a short essay in which the well-known simplicity author explores the pros and cons of homes.
The Simple Living Network [www.simpleliving.net] is a comprehensive web site featuring simplicity-related news and events, a free newsletter including articles and columns by well-known authors, a database of simplicity study groups, and links to other simplicity-friendly web sites. You can purchase many books and other simplicity-related publications from this web site.
The Simplicity Resource Guide [www.gallagherpress.com/pierce/] is the comprehensive listing of simplicity resources compiled by author Linda Breen Pierce (Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World (Gallagher Press, 2000), and Simplicity Lessons: A 12-Step Guide to Living Simply (Gallagher Press, 2003)).
Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer by Wendell Berry [http://www.tipiglen.dircon.co.uk/berrynot.html]. Besides containing the essay that Wendell Berry originally wrote on simplicity in the face of consumer society in 1987, this website also contains letters that Harper’s received when it reprinted the essay, as well as Berry’s response to those letters.
Wisdom and Wilderness by Joseph Meeker [http://www.cop.com/info/meekart.html]. In his short essay, Meeker explores how “before we reach the point where both wisdom and wilderness cease to exist, we should think about what they are, how they relate to one another, and what the world would be like without them." (his words)
Work to Live [http://www.worktolive.info/] is the website of Joe Robinson, who offers ways that American workers can step back from work and reclaim their families and their lives.