16 Best Books on Minimalism and Simplifying for 2020

16 Best Books on Minimalism and Simplifying for 2020

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Looking for the best books on minimalism?

You may have heard that minimalism changes life for the better, especially these days, when many of us are obsessed with consumerism and the drive to have more (earn more, spend more, achieve more, etc.).

Perhaps you’re already worn out from the aimlessness of it all, and simply want a life filled with meaning and purpose, but are at a loss as to where to start.

Today’s post features the best minimalist books to help you start simplifying your life.

Perhaps you’re wondering:

  • What exactly is minimalism?
  • How will minimalism affect my relationships?
  • What will I gain from becoming a minimalist?
  • Is minimalism the way to go for my family?
  • How can my kids manage without their toys?

The books featured today provide the answers to these questions (and more) about minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle.

Let’s get started!

What You Will Learn

Best Books on Minimalism and Simplifying

1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

This book teaches you how to make the right choices when it comes to spending your time, effort, and other resources. Through the practice of essentialism, Greg McKeown believes that each of us can make a positive contribution to create a richer and more meaningful life. (Read our review of Essentialism here.)

Essentialism is choosing only what really matters.

These are some of the takeaway statements from the book:

  • If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
  • We can’t have it or do it all.
  • Don’t be tricked by the trivial.

The book is a must-read for those who may be feeling stretched thin with all the demands of work and personal life—especially those in leadership or managerial positions.

2. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store, by Cait Flanders

We live in an age of mass consumerism. The jobs we work endless hours at help us earn more so we can spend more. But there comes a time when we wonder what lies beyond this seemingly senseless cycle of earning and spending.

This book is a perfect guide for starting to cut back on consumerism.

In her book, millennial blogger Cait Flanders shares her experience of imposing a shopping ban on herself for a period of 12 months.

The book details this year-long journey towards a richer and more meaningful life. Flanders’ experiences will help you focus on what you truly value. Hopefully, you will find your own path full of purpose, too.

3. Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Do you ever wonder how minimalists live their lives? This book showcases how two guys live as minimalists in the midst of a world obsessed with consumerism.

First published in 2016, this book by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus isn’t a how-to for going minimalist. Instead, it showcases what it really means to embrace a life of minimalism.

Readers are introduced to the “Five Values” that define what minimalism is for the authors. Interestingly, these values do not discuss how to get rid of stuff. Rather, they teach you how you can live meaningfully.

These values aim to refocus your attention on things that truly matter. For the authors, this means:

  • Being the healthiest version of you
  • Assessing the quality of all your relationships
  • Identifying your true passions
  • Striving to constantly learn new things
  • Making a concrete, positive contribution in the name of personal growth.

4. The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, by Joshua Becker

By now, you probably realize that having more stuff does not necessarily make us happier. In fact, the clutter can cause us to become more agitated. Our possessions distract us from working on achieving what truly matters in our lives.

This book gives you a chance to make room for the things you really want in life.

Specifically, the book is your guide for:

  • Recognizing the benefits of owning less material possessions
  • Understanding how your possessions are preventing you from reaching your dreams
  • Realizing that minimalism isn’t just about having an uncluttered house, but also a fuller life
  • Experiencing a more generous way of living

If you need a book to walk you through the process of living a minimalist life, this one from Joshua Becker does the job very well.

5. The Joy of Less, a Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, by Francine Jay

Perhaps one of the most important lessons that the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has taught the world is that we have gone overboard without consumerism and it’s time to slow down and focus on living simply yet meaningfully.

If you’re searching for a guide on how to transition from a highly materialistic lifestyle to an uncluttered simple way of life, this book from Francine Jay might be the right choice.

The book will guide you on how to categorize every item you own, helping you develop a sense of detachment from your personal belongings.

You’ll be guided to STREAMLINE, a system of de-cluttering conceptualized by the author, which stands for:

S – Start over
T – Trash, treasure, or transfer
R – Reason for each item
E – Everything in its place
A – All surfaces clear
M – Modules
L – Limits
I – If one comes in, one goes out
N – Narrow down
E – Everyday maintenance

A takeaway from the book that you can apply in your life right now is to act as if you’re permanently moving overseas. This counsel may help prevent you from accumulating clutter and, hopefully, keep your home tidy for a longer period of time.

6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo

Are you overwhelmed by the clutter in your home?

Perhaps you’ve already tried many techniques for de-cluttering, organizing, and storing your stuff, but none of them have shown permanent results in your fight against clutter.

Marie Kondo gives you a new perspective on tidying up. She believes that in order to be successful at it, one has “to tidy everything, all at once.”

Kondo’s technique guarantees that there will be no rebounds. This is because once readers arrange their homes according to Kondo’s technique, they are surrounded only by the things they love. When it comes to deciding what personal possessions to discard or keep, one simply has to answer the question, “Does it spark joy?”

If you are looking for a guide on organizing with intention, Kondo’s book is for you.

7. Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism, by Fumio Sasaki

If you are continually stressed out and have fallen into the habit of comparing yourself with others, you might be interested to know that author Fumio Sasaki felt that way too—until he decided to make a drastic move that changed his life for the better.

Sasaki decided to say goodbye to stuff he didn’t need. He went from being a “messy maximalist” to a minimalist. While doing so, he gained a lot of insight into what makes for a fulfilling life.

In this book, he shares his experience of living with less, or what he calls the “new Japanese minimalism.” His credits his minimalist life with helping him keep a tidy apartment, avoid compulsive shopping habits, and even lose weight.

8. A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind, by Shoukei Matsumoto

In case you weren’t aware, cleaning well is one of the cardinal skills that Buddhist monks must possess. In this book, Buddhist monk Shoukei Matsumo provides essential tips for cleaning and tidying up your house as Zen monks would do.

Matsumo’s cleaning tips include:

  • Airing the house by opening the windows to let fresh air in
  • Avoiding procrastination
  • Cleaning at the right time of the day
  • Wearing the appropriate attire when you’re cleaning

Matsumo’s aim goes beyond sharing cleaning and tidying tips. He believes that the act of tidying up also helps people achieve a more peaceful state of mind and contemplate the self.

9. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Updated and Revised), by Jen Hatmaker

This book tells the story of one family’s attempt to go against the culture of overindulgence and excessive consumerism.

In the book, Jen Hatmaker shares how she, her husband, and her children spent seven months determining areas of their lives where they were prone to excesses, and then making a conscious effort to fight against these excesses in:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Material possessions
  • Technology
  • Money
  • Waste
  • Stress

Hatmaker describes her family’s experience as a “spiritual journey” that taught them the value of simplicity and generosity in creating a richer life.

10. The Minimalist Mindset: The Practical Path to Making Your Passions a Priority and to Retaking Your Freedom, by Danny Dover

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to the minimalist lifestyle, this book written by Danny Dover is worth a read.

It isn’t a book about de-cluttering, nor is it about the philosophical aspects of minimalism. Instead, this book shares the habits you need to implement in your life so you can prioritize the things you truly love and enjoy real personal freedom.

Dover describes minimalism as “the constant art of editing your life.” Within the pages of the book, you’ll find tips on how to:

  • Attain more wealth by automating your finances
  • Spend more time with the people who matter most to you, while still getting to do the activities you love
  • Work remotely
  • Take control of your life

11. Cami Kangaroo Has Too Much Stuff!, by Stacy C. Bauer (author) and Rebecca Sinclair (illustrator)

If you’re a parent of school-age children, you can most likely relate to the perpetual mess of kids’ rooms and the mountains of stuff they seem to leave all over the house.

This book is a wonderful way to introduce the idea of organizing and owning less to children. The engaging narrative and attractive illustrations help bring the message home to children aged 4 to 8.

Stacy Bauer wrote the story based on the state of her own daughter’s bedroom.

In the story, the young kangaroo named Cami loves to collect stuff. However, she does not know how to organize her personal treasures, and has difficulty finding things because of the clutter. How will she find the toy she needs to return to her cousin when she can’t find it under all the mess?

The book has been called “Marie Kondo for kids.” It is one of the best books for helping children develop a minimalist mindset.

12. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, by Shauna Niequist

Is life too hectic right now? Have you been forced into committing to something that’s against your personal principles, all in the name of pleasing others?

This book is an invitation to examine your true priorities. What would life be like if you were striving to be more present instead of being perfect?

Niequist’s message is presented in a collection of essays that tell of her journey of leaving a frantic way of life to arrive at a life lived with mindfulness.

The author hopes that readers will be able to arrive at a life she envisions for everyone—one filled with grace, moments of rest, simplicity, and true connections.

13. It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life With Less Stuff, by Peter Walsh

In this book, author Peter Walsh shows you how to take control of clutter in order to get more out of life. He introduces a system that helps you achieve what you’ve envisioned your life to be.

This book explains the underlying reasons why we’re prone to clutter, and the reason for getting rid of it. Furthermore, it provides tips on how you can go about de-cluttering and organizing your personal space.

For some readers, this book gives them permission to finally toss mementos that have been lying around in their homes for years, accumulating dust and occupying space that could have been used more meaningfully.

14. The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less, by Tonya Dalton

This book is the antidote to society’s preoccupation with and fear of missing out (FOMO). Tonya Dalton’s writing style keeps readers engaged as they restructure their lives so that they have more time for the things they love to do, while still remaining highly productive.

The book is divided into four main sections, namely:

  • Pursue Discovery
  • Find Clarity
  • Create Simplicity
  • Achieve Harmony

By following Dalton’s suggestions on how to live a guilt-free, abundant life, you’ll discover that there can be joy in missing out.

15. When Less Becomes More: Making Space for Slow, Simple, and Good, by Emily Ley

Busy moms, here is a book written especially for you. On any given day, if you are a mother with kids (especially if you’re a single mom), there are so many things that demand your attention. Life can get overwhelming at times. Fortunately, Emily Ley’s book has the answers you are looking for.

Some insights you’ll find in the book include:

  • Less noise, more calm
  • Less chasing, more cherishing
  • Less rush, more rhythm
  • Less distraction, more connection

Emily Ley shares helpful tips that fill your personal well to prevent you from constantly running on empty. The book provides insight into what you need in order to build a life that upholds your personal core values and brings you joy.

16. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

Raising a family today has become more challenging, considering we live in a culture of accumulating too much stuff and being distracted by gadgets and the media.

If you need something to guide your family in your journey towards a simpler life, this book is for you.

It provides a detailed description of the process of transitioning to minimalism. Some of the lessons covered in the book include:

  • Streamlining your home by getting rid of causes for sensory overload (e.g., toys, lighting, and sound)
  • Establishing rhythms and rituals
  • Scaling back on media
  • Establishing calm intervals in the family’s daily activities

This book is an inspiration for families looking for ways to support their children as they grow up, and who want to achieve family harmony.

Final Words

A life of minimalism shifts the focus from materialism to what is truly important: strengthening our relationships with people we care about and spending time doing the activities we love.

Most of the best books on minimalism featured today show us how to apply minimalism in our lives. Others provide the benchmarks to see if you’re on the right track on your own journey as a minimalist.

We hope you find a book that suits your needs from the ones featured in this post.

Need more resources for minimalism, de-cluttering, and achieving a happier life? You might be interested in visiting the following posts:

best books on minimalism | what is the best book on minimalism | books on minimalism for beginners
16 Best Books on Minimalism and Simplifying for 2020