Wednesday, January 11, 2017

If You're Going to Read Just One

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This started out as simply 'my most recommended books' but oh boy did that list escalate quickly.  Apparently I recommend a lot of things.  So I've narrowed it down instead by category.  As in, if you're going to read just one book on finances, or on zero waste, or whatever it is, make it this one.

If you're going to read just one book on ...

... Organizing/Decluttering, make it The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up

It's the single most hyped book about organizing and decluttering and I think for very good reason.  I certainly wasn't the first to jump on this bandwagon, but I wasn't the last either - it continues to grow and that's because it works.  I don't think there's a one size fits all system of organizing.  Everything has to be tailored to each person.  But when it comes to decluttering, that's easier.  Get rid of stuff.  Her 'does it spark joy' line of thinking and ways of folding absolutely everything might not be for everyone, but everyone can get something out of this book.  I truly believe that.

Other contenders: Unstuffed, It's All Too Much, Organizing From the Inside Out

... Minimalism, make it The Joy of Less

I put minimalism in a category all it's own, because it's not just about decluttering stuff.  Francine Jay is a really good writer when it comes to this, and this particular book of hers covers all the aspects of minimalism, from the decluttering and organizing part to the enjoying your newly simplified life part.  I think she does a great job of balancing the emotional aspects of getting rid of things and writes with a kindness and warmth that doesn't always come across in, say, Marie Kondo's books.  If you're looking to declutter and organize but doing so more with the intention of moving towards minimalism, this is a good place to start.

Other Contenders: The Year Without a Purchase, The More of Less, Simplify, Everything That Remains

... Finances, make it The Total Money Makeover

Read it before you listen to him speak, because Dave Ramsey can just be an asshole, let's call a spade a spade.  But that doesn't mean his advice is wrong.  It's not, at least not the parts about getting your butt out of debt as fast as possible, staying that way, and learning how to make better financial decisions in the future.  The swift kick in the pants this book provides isn't necessarily meant for everyone, but chances are if you're looking for a book on finances in the first place, you need this.  He gives you the exact path you need to take to get control over your finances and if you embrace it, you will see the results immediately.  Seriously.

Other contenders: Your Money or Your Life, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke, Rich Dad, Poor Dad

... Zero Waste, make it Zero Waste Home

Another one I think you should read before listening to her speak.  Bea Johnson comes off as a little snot in the videos I've seen of her on YouTube, but maybe that's just the French coming out.  She's at an insane level of living a zero waste lifestyle (which is to never send anything to a landfill.  Ever.  You still recycle, you compost, but you never throw things in the trash can.), and getting there right away, or ever, may be unrealistic for many people in the United States.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and it doesn't mean that it should put any sort of damper on what you do manage to do - every bit helps.  This book is the most thorough guide you'll find that still has all the introductions and basics of the lifestyle, so even if you don't or can't implement everything in here, trying just a few of her tips that seem the most important to you will make it worth it both in your own life and to the planet.  A more accessible zero waster is Lauren of Trash is for Tossers, but she doesn't (yet) have a book.  I wish she'd write one though.

Other contenders: Plastic Free, Garbology

... Relationships, make it Things I'd Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married

Gary Chapman is a good author in the field of marriage and your relationship with your significant other, so anything you pick up by him is going to be a winner.  He's been a marriage counselor for longer than I've been alive.  He's most well know for the 5 Love Languages but Things I'd Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married is the one I actually prefer, since I think you can get a lot of the love languages info online without needing to dive totally into the book.  It's a quick read, so it's worth your small amount of time.  It's sort of a compilation of the advice he needs to give most often to engaged couples or newlyweds, who maybe aren't so realistic because they're still in their honeymoon stage bubble.  A good way to sort of 'get ahead' of the arguments you're most likely to have in a marriage.  Not just for married/engaged couples, obviously, since I'm neither of those things.  Still helps!  I think it's just as beneficial for John and I and we only live together.  If everyone read this before getting married (and signed a pre-nup...), I'd be out of a job.  (I'm a divorce lawyer.)

Other Contenders: The Happiness Project (and Gretchen Rubin books in general), The Five Love Languages, The Meaning of Marriage, Boundaries

... Healthy Eating, make it Forks Over Knives

I like plant based diets. I have never been a meat eater so they naturally appealed to me from the start, but I like the argument for plant based diets regardless.  Forks Over Knives is currently my favorite because I think it's set up in a way that's easy to understand and implement.  It has the science and research and while I totally love The China Study, I can see how all the science in that would turn people off.  This gives you the basics on all the research it's backed by, and then, should you decide that this seems like the right plan for you, it gives you week by week steps of overhauling your previously bad eating habits.  One meal at a time.  I appreciate that kind of attention to detail.  Plus you get recipes, which is always a nice bonus.

Other Contenders: Eat to Live, Thug Kitchen, The Oh She Glows Cookbook (cookbooks totally count), The China Study

And this is where I leave you.  As if that wasn't enough to check out, it's at least 20.  Have you read anything on my list?  Anything you would add in the various categories?

If you want another post like this on less standard books like say... the one book written by a celebrity, the one biography, the one book from high school reading lists that doesn't suck, etc., let me know.  I have picks for all of those too.

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