My first brush with minimalism occurred during a backpacking misadventure in Western Europe—when finances and travel restrictions limited me to fitting two weeks worth of items into a tiny school backpack. I remember wearing the same outfit day after day and finding a strange sort of freedom in the continuity, liberated from the excess of choices as well as the heavy weight of a suitcase brimming with items.
Ever since, I’ve become obsessed with minimalism—devouring books on the topic and making it a goal to decrease my carbon and physical footprint. Though there are so many inspirational and helpful books out there, five in particular stand out in my minimalism education. For those looking to simplify their lives, these five books are valuable tools for how to embrace the art of less.
How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas, Anne Berest & Audrey Diwan
*Must-Read for the Fashion Minimalist
In How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are, co-authors Berest, Diwan, de Maigret, and Mas divulge the art of Parisian chic: fewer clothes of higher quality. The masters of the capsule wardrobe, these four brilliant Parisian women provide tricks and tidbits for developing a well-curated wardrobe with just a few staple pieces and intentional accessorizing.
While How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are discusses more than just fashion (ranging from humorous discussions on men and love to classic Parisian culture), their style section is a must-read for those looking to pare down their wardrobe and finally find the back of their closet.
7: A Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
*For the Experimentalist
Seven challenges. Seven months.
In 7: A Mutiny Against Excess, social experimentalist and spiritual author, Jen Hatmaker, embarks on a challenge to reduce the clutter in her life—tackling seven different areas of excess in seven months: clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress.
Written in a down-to-earth, quippy tone of voice, Hatmaker takes the reader on a hilarious and motivational journey—inspiring readers to start their own seven-month challenge to minimize the surplus in their lives and focus on sufficiency instead.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
*For the De-clutterer
Can there even be an article on minimalist books without featuring the Queen of Minimalism herself?
With over 11 million copies sold in 40 different countries, Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is quite possibly the most well-read and iconic book on minimalism written in the 21st century. In it, Marie Kondo introduces the KonMarie method—the act of determining which items to keep or throw out based on the simple question: Does this item spark joy?
Don’t let the slim size of this book deceive you, Marie Kondo packs a punch in a concise fashion with advice on how to simplify, declutter, and reignite joy in life.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
For the Mental Minimalist
While not a book on minimalism in the traditional sense, I would argue that The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is one of the best-written books for how to gain mental simplicity and clarity.
Drawing from examples in the worlds of marketing, sports, and laboratories, Duhigg not only presents a compelling case for how habits affect the way we live our lives, but also how to harness those habits toward self-improvement. The Power of Habit is a can’t-miss book for those seeking the ultimate blueprint to minimize mental clutter and take control of the life they’re longing to live.
101 Ways to Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg
*For the Eco-Enthusiast
As a lover of listicles, Kathryn Kellogg’s informative and sustainability-focused book, 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, is an important, final addition to this minimalism round up.
From DIY cleaning hacks to grocery shopping tips, Kellogg’s book is chock full of tiny ways to make a tremendous difference. Beyond curating a fun list of ideas, Kellogg also delves into the defense of zero-waste and why recycling just won’t cut it in today’s climate. With well laid-out charts and a convincing argument, by the end of the book you’ll never think of your trash the same way again.
Minimalism at its core is a lifelong practice of curating what matters and letting go of what doesn’t. Whether you’re looking to simplify your life, protect the environment, or save money for the things that matter most—these minimalist books can help provide physical, mental, and emotional clarity for a pared down way of life.
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; Penguin Random House; Marie Kondo