Earlier today I reviewed Duane Elgin’s Voluntary Simplicity. I was not impressed. I had hoped it would provide more actionable suggestions and less philosophy.

Fortunately, I’ve found the sort of book I wanted, and it’s available for free on the web. John December has published a hypertext ebook entitled Live Simple: Radical Tactics to Reduce the Clutter, Complexity, and Costs of Your Life. This book isn’t about ideas — it’s about real things you can do today:

I outlined this book out of my desire to set down what would describe a simple life. I didn’t want to write a book about the philosophy of simplicity, or a personal memoir, but a collection of specific things — particular tactics people could use to simplify their lives.

Live Simple is presented in a clean, easy-to-navigate format. The hypertext format allows December to present a variety of tips, tactics, and real-life case studies without detracting from the core text. The book is divided into several broad sections:

  • Rule your stuff, where December urges: don’t keep what you don’t need, know what you have, take care of what you keep.
  • Optimize Your Place: love your city, live close to what matters, have the right home.
  • Hone your routine: establish sustainable habits and be prepared.
  • Live your dream: state your dream, support your dream, and unleash your dream.
  • Tap into resources: develop networks, use internet information and communication, chart your progress, access resources.

I like Live Simple so much that I e-mailed the author to ask if he’d be willing to introduce his book to Get Rich Slowly readers. I was pleased to learn that he’s visited GRS before, and supports its philosophy. He wrote:

By way of an introduction, I’d like to stress some points that may help your readers understand my take on simplicity:

  • Saving and investing money has been a big part of my simplicity process because my dream is to live independently. I therefore do many things to reduce costs in my life such as not having a car and living a very modest material life. This saves me time and money, so that I can focus on my work that keeps me independent.
  • I know that choices for simplicity vary by person. I don’t have the final or definitive word on simplicity, so I hope you’ll see my work as a set of ideas submitted for your consideration.
  • I see simplicity in terms of incremental, modular changes. I call these “tactics” — things that you can consider doing in steps, see practical results, and then consider expanding or using other tactics.
  • I admit that my simplicity work tends to suggest living in a city. I know many simplicity books are about the “simple life” of the country. I think this is fine for some folks. But I’ve found that living close to goods, services, recreation, other people for communication and interaction, cultural events, and walkable urban and natural settings, the city is the choice for me.
  • I also admit I am a bit extreme: I do not have a car and I do not have a television. (I do watch video on my computer.) I live in a studio apartment. I find that by eliminating the distractions and costs of house and car maintenance and the time cost of watching all those television programs everyone seems to talk incessantly about, I have an enormous savings of time and energy for other things.
  • I enjoy hearing from readers — your questions, suggestions, or tactics you use to live a more simple life.

You probably won’t read Live Simple in a single session — though I’ll be some of you will try — but I encourage you to bookmark it for future reference. Live Simple is everything I’d hoped Voluntary Simplicity would be, but wasn’t.

Note: This book is available in three formats: a free hypertext version, a $4 PDF version, and a $14 print version. I apologize for any confusion.

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