Saturday, May 31, 2014

Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus

The Minimalists
Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn

Last month, Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus made a stop here at an independent bookstore on their 100-city book tour. These two fellows, who were quite entertaining, write the blog 
The Minimalists. 

Everything That Remains is Joshua's tale of how he came to realize that his high-powered job, all his high-powered material stuff, and his high-powered life were not how he wanted to be powered. 

So he quit his job, moved to a smaller apartment which necessitated his giving away and/or selling the majority of his stuff, worked on getting rid of debt, and started a blog with his best friend, Ryan.

OK. There is a little more to it than that and this book is part memoir, part inspiration, and part laugh-out-loud funny. I have an autographed copy (which strikes me as going against the practice of minimalism as it is yet one more possession, but oh, well).

Anyway, these guys - both are barely 30 years old - seem to be having a ball and, based on the 50 or so people who attended the signing, have inspired others to take a clearer look at their own lives.

I enjoyed meeting these fellows and enjoyed reading the story of their discovery of a life without stuff. Although I am not exactly an extreme minimalist in that I do own more than one coffee cup and one spoon, I do tend toward the uncluttered life (except, apparently, when it comes to books). 

Joshua writes that he got rid of 2000 books and kept ten - all books about writing. Although that may be something to think about, I am not ready to go that far...yet.


  1. I think I could enjoy a minimalist life if I had started earlier. Now I have attachments to too many 'things'. But now I try to get rid of things before I get attached to them: books get read and passed on, as do magazines and clothing.

    1. Hi, Joan. I know what you mean. By now I have curated my possessions down to pretty much everything that has some meaning for me. This means not too much more can come over the threshold as it would mean getting rid of something - the old one-thing-in one-thing-out rule.

      I have just spent time clearing surfaces (I like that open, uncluttered feeling) and sure enough, I was able to create a nice small pile of expendables to take to the charity shop. Every little bit helps.

      I like the fact that these two guys - The Minimalists - realized early in life that they are not defined by their possessions. They are having a blast meeting people, traveling, writing, and thinking and not spending time dusting or maintaining their stuff!

  2. Kat commented:

    We can never go so far as to give away our books! At least not the ones that fit in our bookcases.:)

    I very much enjoyed this post.

    1. Kat, for some reason Blogger rejected your comment so I cut and pasted it in here. Weird.

      Anyway, yes, I do believe the books will remain! I recently re-purposed a shelf or two that formerly held 'stuff' and they now hold books. Well, at least the books are off the chair seats now!

  3. Interest chaps, looking at their extensive tour schedule I can see why they don't have possessions to speak of, they never go home!! As a certified "home-body" I need to be surrounded by the things that mean a lot to me. I classify the "other" things as expendable and with that I agree... get rid of them The problem I have is that the more items I discard/donate the more that nice clean empty space is filled.....with more books!!!!

    1. Tullik, that is what nice, clean, empty space is for: to fill with our lovely books.

      I am glad these guys are having fun and inspiring others. Consumerism abounds!

  4. Coincidentally, I just discovered their blog! I had finished reading a book about living more simply and the author had listed their blog as a resource. I explored it a bit, and put it in my feed reader for the future.

    I am certainly not a minimalist, though I do aspire to live more simply and have "getting rid of excess stuff" as one of my major goals for 2014. I see how having less (and doing less) can be a much less stressful way of life and I continue to work toards that goal. I'm even trying to collect fewer books, but I'm failing miserably. The best thing I say about that is that I pass on the ones I don't want to keep for my personal library. The personal library that keeps on growing, and growing...

    1. Kathy, before I discovered book blogs, I spent a lot of time reading unclutter-minimalize-simplify blogs. I think that time did help prepare space for the onslaught of books once I started to write about my own literary adventures.

      Keeping life and home simple is an ongoing challenge. One day I want to own only enough possessions that will fit in one box, and the next, I am swooning over some book or souvenir and know for sure that if I love it, I am going to keep it. I guess I will just need a Really Big Box.