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Self Help Roundup Review: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***," by Mark Manson / "Th

This is not my usual go to type of book(s). In fact, over many decades I may have read just a few self help style books and they were either posturing or pandering. Tidbits of wisdom had to be carefully excised between pages and pages of vapid sermons. These were no different, but maybe I am, now that I'm quite a bit older. Let me explain.

These each have their own separate drumbeats and I get it. "Subtle Art" really is quite different from the other two books and is not concerned with becoming a minimalist or simplifying your life with regard to goods and possessions. It uses the F word about a thousand times throughout the book for effect, for humor, for shock. I'm sure it helped sell a lot of books with its air of cavalier disrespect. A more well written book could have communicated the same ideas with better clarity and more insightful anecdotes. But he DID have a point at times. For example, we tend measure ourselves and care about things based on our "metrics". That is the things we decide to care about and make important. If your personal metrics are skewed, biased, misinformed or just downright stupid you are no doubt going to care a lot about things you shouldn't even bother with, or in Manson's terms, "not give a f*** about". That just strikes me as being so logical that it's hard to refute. And that's what we all do. We care about stuff that we shouldn't. I do it. You do it. If I only take that from this book, it was worth the read.

"The More of Less" by Becker rolls around regularly into a Christian born again kind of attitude toward less. It's sensible, flat prose and occasional "mission" sermonizing distracts from a reasonable approach to this topic. Less stuff is less distracting. Less stuff is more satisfying. Less stuff is obviously simpler. There are plans and directions on how to do this. I feel quite certain that many readers would find this instructive and helpful. I found it a bit preachy. Of these three books, if you have to discard one before reading, this is it.

"Tidying Up" is an entirely different story. If you are feeling inundated by your "stuff", if the things that you own have turned slowly into a heavy weight to bear through life, then this is the book you want to read. Take it slowly and only adopt the pieces of this book to heart that you can actually live with because it will challenge you on many fronts. Start with clothes, move to books, finally keepsakes and mementoes. This will not be easy for many people but it is an amazingly interesting perspective on the items that we surround ourselves with in order to feel good, but really just saturate our lives with distraction. Do our items give us joy, how many shirts or shoes do we need, can we part with the items that have outlasted their purpose or style? These are all questions Kondo poses. Suggestions for organizing for easy access, style and use are offered. If you are interested in this topic, "Tidying Up" is the book to challenge yourself. I began with a quickly proffered sense of being older with a later explanation to come. Here it is. Through the last 30 or 40 years I have taken great pleasure in accumulating "things". I fashioned myself a bit of a "collector". Books, clothes, shoes, records, CD's, VHS tapes, DVD's, t-shirts, comic books, baseball caps, Christmas Tree shops, holiday ornaments, Halloween masks and decorations, the list could go on. But now as I approach the slowly descending arc of this lifetime parabola I sense that the worth of these items, to me personally, are less than what they were, and, more importantly, of little or no value to anyone else. Beginning to move these items out of my possession and back into the world is gratifying. And I've only just begun.

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