Book Review: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta (Hyperion 2009)
True to its name, the Power of Less is short. 170 pages. The non-fiction work follows the traditional how-to book formula to employ numbered lists of steps. That’s where the commonalities with traditional how-to books end. In an amongst the tried-and-true lists are the author’s musings about his website and its members, his own struggles, and how to use the internet to keep your life simple. Did that last bit sound counter-intuitive? It isn’t. Mr. Babauta doesn’t pull punches about internet addiction and distraction, but as he is directing you toward websites, he is telling you how to rein in your unproductive internet use. He uses the concept of Haiku to demonstrate this in the very early pages of the book. (Too bad he didn’t use Twitter’s 140 character limit! Same idea, though, and one that Mr. Babauta is taking seriously.)
This tiny tome definitely isn’t for back-to-nature types. Although the Buddhist concept of mindfulness pervades the theme of the book, Mr. Babauta promotes the beauty of internet tools on almost every page. For the most part, it works. After reading the book, I can see how “teh.interwebz” can add some Zen to your life. A few times, though, I felt a little over-pitched on the author’s own website. He is obviously very proud of his online community, but multiple mentions of a website went against the single-tasking posits of the book: Why keep mentioning a website at the same time you are telling me to stay off the internet and concentrate on one thing at a time? Also, he never mentions the beauty of hiring a personal organizer. I hired a professional a few years ago to prepare a room for my soon-to-be-born son and I’ll never try to tackle a big clean out/organizing project on my own again. Professional organizers are THAT worth it.
Those have to be my only complaints about The Power of Less.* All in all, this is a good little book with some great logic in it, as well as links and suggestions on how to use today’s tools to make your life better. A short book that combines technology advancements with wisdom of the ages is just the kind of focus that we muti-taskers need to help us calm the chaos that surrounds us online and off.
Take a look through it next time you are at the library or the bookstore. If you take away one helpful hint (which you are very likely to do), it’ll be worth it.
*I linked to half.com because as many of you know, my husband worked for them in the very early startup days. I know a lot of people but suprisingly, I actually don’t know the author Leo Babauta and hadn’t heard of him until I ran across The Power of Less. I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way for anything in this post. I am never paid in any way for any post on PurpleCar.net. PurpleCar is purely my work and my opinions. I’ll always be honest with you — well, as much as I’m honest with myself, anyway. I know I’m usually rougher in my book reviews, but I actually did like this book. Go figure.