Book Review | The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard
PagesRatingGenre
3525 / 5Non-fiction, environment

Wow! I wish I would have read this years ago! I learned so much about all our crap! I’m already on the road to simplify and minimize, but this really got me thinking about what more I can do.

Similar books that I’m interested in:

The video that started the conversation…

Other book recommendations from the book:

Other Notes:

  • 350.org – Climate change non-profit fighting the use of fossil fuels.
  • waterfootprint.org – The Water Footprint Network is a platform for collaboration between companies, organizations and individuals to solve the world’s water crises by advancing fair and smart water use.
  • sustainable-economy.org – Center for Sustainable Economy.
  • eartheconomics.org – We all rely on services provided by nature, often without realizing it or in ways we don’t fully recognize. Earth Economics identifies and quantifies those benefits to ensure they are included in the decision-making process at all levels, so communities can mitigate risk, increase resilience, and protect their natural capital wealth.

Paradigms are so pervasive and invisible that they can be easily mistaken for truth. When this happens, we limit our creativity in finding solutions to the problems we face, since our thinking is cramped and predefined by society’s dominant framework.

There are the downshifters, those who voluntarily live simply, unplugging from commercial culture, working, and buying less.

…downshifting, enough-ism, or voluntary simplicity–involves embracing a shift towards working and spending less.

Annie Leonard

2020 Books in Review

I had high hopes for 2020 as far as reading went. But 2020 had other plans for all of us. My wife and I welcomed a new baby girl into our lives and the world gave us a global pandemic. You would think I would have more time on my hands with a global pandemic, but preparing and having a third little girl did divert my time slightly. While I planned to read many more books in 2020 I only made it through 36 books this year. Less than the 55 I was able to read in 2019.

Although I read less I think I did better with reading diversity. In 2019 I read only 23% female authors’ books, while in 2020 I managed 40%, still less than half, and something I can still improve upon, but better. 89% of the books I read were non-fiction. I believe fiction is important to read, but my favorite genre is definitely non-fiction, I really feel like reading those books is time well spent. Back to diversity; I also look at the nationality of the writers I read. In 2020, I read 77% from United States writers. I did manage to read 3 Canadians, but that’s still the North American continent.

As far as how I liked the books, my average score was 4, the lowest was 2, and the highest was 5. I’ll make sure to link to all the 5-star books below. My favorite binding or way of reading was Kindle (48.6%). This makes sense when you see how many books I read about minimalism this year and last. Next was audiobooks, 31.4%. I’m sure I would have read even more audiobooks in 2020 if my commute would have lasted past March.

I read 6,524 pages digital and real this year. I listened to 6,170 minutes (102.8 hours, 4.3 days) of audiobooks. I enjoyed listening to books on walks while riding an indoor bike and sometimes laying on the ground waiting for a child of mine to fall asleep.

Topics or why I read the books I did this year. 9 books were related to minimalism, 5 were general education, 4 on the environment and cycling (4 each). This is a big one. I saved $310.09 by using the library in 2020.

One thing that was different this year is that each book got a blog post, something I have not been very good at doing in the past. I hope to get better at this.

5 Star books I read in 2020:

If you can only read one of these books read, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger.

Book Review | How to Be an Antiracist

How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi
PagesRatingGenre
3054 / 5Non-fiction, Race

This year changed a lot of things. A major one of those things was the Black Lives Matter movement. It brought to the forefront hundreds of years of oppression. I’m no expert on this movement and as a privileged, white, heterosexual, male, I can’t begin to understand the struggle of African-Americans in this country. Having said that, not trying is failing. Reading a book doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make a huge difference. I’m trying to learn and see things from another person’s eyes.

Ibram’s book does that. I encourage you to listen to this 6 minute NPR story about this book:

Book Review | A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
A Rose for Emily
by William Faulkner
PagesRatingGenre
364 / 5Fiction, short story, classic

Emily is a member of a family in the antebellum Southern aristocracy; after the Civil War, the family has fallen on hard times.

A very short story that you can read online here. A bit of history and a somewhat sad story. Very well-written and an enjoyable read. Only 4 stars as I wish it was longer. Looks like the whole movie is available on youtube:

Book Review | Ninety Percent of Everything

Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George
PagesRatingGenre
3043 / 5Non-fiction, Economics, Travel

Rose George writes a very extensive (verbose) description of the shipping industry as it is today. In order to accomplish this she actually gets on a ship and sails with the crew of a cargo ship through their normal route, including pirate infested waters. I read the book more for the economics of shipping. I wanted to understand how we got to this place where it is insanely cheap to ship via cargo ships and cargo containers. She covers this and so much more.

The extra is where she loses me. At times she dives into the history of shipping, then she passes to the legality of it, then the a short biography of the current captain of the ship she is on, then the shipping company Maersk, then it reads as a travel book, then she covers a short history of harbor towns. You can see what I am getting at here. It’s just too much. She managed to pack in 3 or 4 book subjects into one book. While the title speaks to me, the economy of shipping, there is so much more in this book. For this reason, it gets only 3 stars.

Book Review | The Truths We Hold

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris
PagesRatingGenre
3364 / 5Non-fiction, autobiography, politics

Good biography from Harris. Obviously focusing on her professional career the most. People who want to know her stance on things may benefit from reading this. Boiled down to fairness for all and climate change is important. Not bad, but you have to wonder how much of this was her telling us exactly what we want to hear.

I’m really glad that I read this before she became America’s first female, first Black, and first South Asian vice president-elect. That’s a lot of first and she has a lot to be proud of already. I’m looking forward to seeing what she and Biden can do.

Book Review | Origin

Origin by Dan Brown
Origin by Dan Brown
PagesRatingGenre
4564 / 5Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Excellent Robert Langdon story again. Maybe not as strong as the first 4 books, but totally worth reading if you haven’t yet. If you have read or seen any of the books, such as the Da Vinci Code, you already know what to expect from this book. This is a great book and lots of fun to read.

It was nice to take a break from all the non-fiction I read. This is one of only 4 fiction books I read the entire year. So, that right there should tell you something. “I don’t read fiction much, but when I do they are good picks.” LOL.

Book Review | Clutterfree with Kids

Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home. by Joshua Becker
PagesRatingGenre
1994 / 5Non-fiction, minimalism

Clear and concise advice from Joshua as usual. Joshua is an easy to follow resource for those interested in decluttering or the lighter side of minimalism. A great resource.

I’ve posted about Joshua here before. This is the second book of his that I read in 2020. I love his stuff, it makes so much sense to me. Implementing is always the hardest part especially with kids. I recommend this book to those with kids that want to pull this off.

There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in organizing more.

Joshua Becker

Clutter is a) too much stuff in too small a place; b) anything you no longer use or love; or c) anything that leads to a feeling of disorganization.

Joshua Becker

Book Review | Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
PagesRatingGenre
1462 / 5Non-Fiction, Digital Minimalism

I listened to this, but didn’t get much from it. I preferred Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. It was much more detailed less cursing too 🙂

Pretty disappointed in this work. Just read Cal’s it’s much better!

Book Review | How Not to Die

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
PagesRatingGenre
5765 / 5Non-fiction, health

Absolutely excellent. I read this on Kindle and highlighted it everywhere. I don’t like to buy books because they take up a lot of room. My preference is to own a few physical books. This one is worth buying in hardback and keeping. Very clear easy to follow advice on what to eat and how much of it. Also, like how Dr. Greger included information on exercise and how much. Everything is backed up with studies and not those paid my big dairy, or others with agendas. Great to keep for reference and re-read often to remind me about what I should be incorporating into my diet more.

People who once ate vegetarian diets but then started to eat meat at least once a week experienced a 146 percent increase in odds of heart disease, 152 percent increase in stroke a 166 percent increase in diabetes, and a 231 percent increase in odds for weight gain.

Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger speaks on the lack of nutrition found in many of the items that we have been taught are good for us. Lean meat, eggs, dairy, etc.

I think everyone should read this book! It may just be my favorite book of 2020.