Book name: Timeless Simplicity
Author: John Lane
Publisher: Green Books
Format: ebook, print, audiobook
Genre: Self help
Publication Date: 2001
This Monday's muse is a work of nonfiction helpfully subtitled 'Creative Living In A Consumer Society'.
I've had rather a soft spot for John Lane's slim volume since I bought Timeless Simplicity. Two decades on, I'm no nearer to achieving the core aim: to live more simply by acquiring fewer possessions.
In fact, embarrassingly, I've acquired an awful lot more of them, something I attempt to excuse on the basis that almost all of them are books. No amount of cajoling or nagging can ever seem to reduce that number, nor should it.
There's an irony in an object (which naturally has to be purchased) that is designed to persuade you to...purchase fewer items. The simple white cover and low-key pen and ink illustrations of John Lane's Timeless Simplicity help, I guess, with the willing fiction that somehow this purchase has a nobler quality to it than the rest.
The addition of carefully selected quotes scattered through the text adds to the aura of calmness, the meditative tone from John Lane, suggesting that buying this item indicates peculiarly perceptive wisdom on your part. He also reassures you that many noble souls have trod this path already.
Naturally, Thoreau is here. No one knows better the value of books in a simple life. And Emerson, too, plus thinkers like Ruskin and William Blake.
And the early chapters of Timeless Simplicity lean heavily on the religious tenets of a simple, supported by quotes from the Bible and eastern texts. Ancient wisdom always helps you steel your resolve to try something tricky or hard.
Timeless Simplicity has considerable charm, perhaps most of all if you have no intention of acting upon it (guilty pleasure).
Like some of the most mouthwatering cookbooks, the best enjoyment is to flick through the pages, get the general gist, savour the illustrations and inwardly murmur, 'I could do this, if I try. But who has the time?'
I can't think of a better manner to half-ass your way through a lifestyle makeover.
It adds to the pleasure that the final few pages are adverts for John Lane's other (actually very similar) books, a reminder that man cannot live by the royalties of just one publication alone.
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