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Book Review: 'The Simplicity Primer'

Updated on January 19, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


The book “The Simplicity Primer” by Patrice Lewis provides 365 lessons for making life simpler. This book has many strengths but a few weaknesses. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this simple living guide?

The Simplicity Primer contains a list of short and simple ways to simplify your life.
The Simplicity Primer contains a list of short and simple ways to simplify your life. | Source

The Best Points of "The Simplicity Primer"

  • While there are several small sections on the outlook changes and revaluation of values in order to make life simpler, most of the sections are full of actionable advice. This is not a philosophy or meditation book.
  • The author is realistic in that simplicity does not require ditching all technology and living the “simple” life of back breaking labor on a farm. She lives on a homestead and works with her husband in a family craft business there, but she is realistic on this front.
  • Each section is written to be readable in a short session. That makes this thick book easily read over time.
  • The author admits simplifying requires sacrifices and prioritization. Her practical advice does not require giving up all social activities or living on $5 a day.
  • Her advice in the 9-to-5 simplicity in the work place is better than the advice in many “get along with a difficult boss”, “manage difficult co-workers” and “improve workplace productivity” books that I’ve read. That set of lessons is a must read for anyone struggling in the work place or trying to stress less about work.
  • Her advice on simplifying relationships is useful if you’re willing to be honest about your relationships. The book "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud is a good alternative if you need to determine which relationships are toxic and need to be limited, as well as how to set those boundaries.

Disadvantages of "The Simplicity Primer"

  • The book is 365 lessons on making life more livable. There is redundancy, repetition and recycling of the same concepts across multiple sections. She stretched out about 80 ideas into 365 lessons, and they are revisited throughout the book.
  • The section “It’s easy being green” spends more time giving a political rebuff of the “green movement” than on how to simplify your life and be green. While agree with the author on the hijacking of conservation by those who want to use “the planet” as a basis for limiting freedom and opportunity, it’s a few sections it is simply complaining about eco-fascism. It's tedious, and that is despite the fact that I agree with the author.
  • “Nothing New Under the Sun” section in "The Simplicity Primer" toward the end is pure philosophy. Unless you’re a fan of “Walden”, you can skip this section altogether. For fans of the philosophy of simplicity, "Walden" is a better book to read.

General Feedback on "The Simplicity Primer"

  • The financial advice is significantly influenced by Dave Ramsey’s books. If looking for actionable advice on financial simplicity and getting out of debt, rely on his books instead of the financial simplicity section of “The Simplicity Primer”. Or read Suze Orman's books to adjust your overall attitude toward money.
  • While the book touches on religious topics, it is not preachy, nor should its readership be limited to a Christian audience.


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