BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki, translated by Eriko Sugita [in Library Journal]

Think Marie Kondo (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) on steroids: fellow Japanese lifestyle (albeit reluctant) guru Fumio Sasaki shed 95 percent of his stuff.

“There’s happiness in having less,” his here’s-why-and-how primer begins. “That’s why it’s time to say good-bye to all our extra things.” Adding cultural and historical context, he cites three specific reasons for the modern rise in minimalism: information overload, technological developments, and (unexpectedly) the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake – a reminder of how quickly things disappear. He offers consistently doable suggestions on how to pare down, with reminders that there’s no single correct answer and reducing possessions is “not a goal unto itself.” As for perfect minimalists, Sasaki cites Mother Teresa (mentioned once) and Steve Jobs (who haunts the whole book).

The single weak link here is narrator Keith Szarabajka, who should have said good-bye to unnecessary accents when reading the would-be inspirational quotes scattered throughout; a call to a native Japanese speaker about pronunciation is the single lacking essential. Going aural also means missing the motivating photographs that highlight five minimalist lifestyles (including a family of four!).

Verdict: Stick with the book; for would-be minimalists, library borrowing or electronic checkouts are highly encouraging options.

Review: “Audio,” Library Journal, August 1, 2017

Readers: Adult

Published: 2015 (Japan), 2017 (United States)


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