Less is More
I got off on the wrong footing with this book. I was at the beach, my buddy needed a book, I had it in my knapsack, and was engrossed in the post mortem biography of Hunter S. Thompson, so I flipped this book his way.
He started it, and handed it back, with the comment, “Too much Thoreau for me.”
I thought that was odd. As a Thoreau fan. But I know he reads a lot, so I figured he was right.
But then my wife Tami read it, and started quoting from it, and then I had to fly to Toronto, and I needed a book, so I snatched it from Tami’s bedside pile.
The subtitle of Less is More is “embracing simplicity for a healthy planet, a caring economy and lasting happiness.” It is a collection of essays edited by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska (New Society Publishers 2009).
And it is fantastic. Forget Thoreau. Forget the hubris in the subtitle. Forget about the fact that Urbanska is a self-styled television star.
It is a series of hard-hitting essays by a diverse collection of writers that wraps its arms around everything from simplicity to climate change to economic metrics to happiness. I approached each chapter (each new writer) with skepticism and a willingness to put the book down, and I found myself delighted time after time.
I’m not a religious person, so it is easy for me to approach a chapter by Reverend Canon Sally Bingham entitled “Religion and the Earth” with my guard up, but like most of the other writers in Less is More, she won me over with terrific writing and ideas.
Religion, it seems, is one thing that has sustained for a couple of thousand years.
This is a book by contemporary philosophers, and academics, and practitioners of a new way of being, and as such it is pure delight.
Cecile Andrews chapter, The Circle of Simplicity was a highlight for me. She goes from a guest observing her shopping list of “bread and water” to the construction of community in a few short pages. It was marvelous.
I’m thinking the notion of “Less is More” came from a Browning poem, and has since been seized by architects and artists and writers of all sorts.
I’m not sure how the phrase applies to our growing library, exactly, since new arrivals are coming at a rate faster than they can be read or shelved, but this is a book that anyone would be glad to have on their shelf.