Friday, January 22, 2010

This is not a stunt!

I've been struggling to find my energy and motivation to get up and get things done around here lately, mainly in the garden, but also around the house. I'd really like to organize and simplify, since physically ordered things in my environment seem to have a direct impact on reducing my mental clutter.

In my search for motivation & energy, I've upped my vitamin D intake, bought some fresh flowers for the house and have taken to reading more books on the subject of simplifying, taking control and otherwise sorting out one's life. Unfortunately, more and more of these books that lure me in with their supposed tales and tips of a streamlined and fulfilling life are really just "stunt books".

Two of the best known of these stunt books are Julie & Julia, and my beloved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In A,V,M, the author challenges her family to adhere to a relatively strict set of rules for living a low impact lifestyle for a set period of time - one year. Though I really do love that book and found it highly motivating at this time last year, in the wake of its success, a landslide of less than stellar copycats have hit the market and I just keep on falling for 'em, only to be disappointed by how shallow and insincere that most of them turn out to be.

The latest such book touted "live better with less!". Naturally, I had to check it out. Yeah... no.

The author chose one item/service/habit to give up for one month at a time for a year. Some of her sacrifices included giving up reading the New York Times for a month, not eating chocolate, not swearing, etc. Another title follows a woman's "experiment" to live her life per the doctrine of Oprah. While there's nothing wrong with experimenting with changes in one's lifestyle and habits, I find these sorts of choices being represented as meaningful or worse still as "sacrifice" to be downright offensive. If you want to try something new in your life, go for it! If it works out, great! If not, well, it was worth trying. However, not every half-baked crack at being a vegan, buying a farm or giving up coffee deserves a book deal. It completely devalues the actual sacrifice and hard work of good folks trying to improve their lives and change the world for the sake of bettering it, not for just landing themselves a fat paycheck.


  1. I so know what you mean. When I heard about the Oprah woman I thought this has gone too far! There are people actually doing real things and going unnoticed while these stunt people are making money for nothing. Crazy!

  2. I agree, Chelle. Not only is it a lame stunt but it's derivative, unimaginative, and generally less interesting than a root canal. I've read several myself but have given them up for fiction.

  3. I agree. We've been working towards living simpler for years, and some days we do really really well. Other days? Well, not so good. Has anyone else noticed that most of the live simply books want you to go out and buy all the fancy stuff to keep your lives simplified?

  4. Seriously! I've fallen for those too. When will I learn?