What I’m Reading: You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel
Impressions: Tammy Strobel is the quintessential Portlander- she lives in a tiny house (no, seriously tiny!), bikes everywhere, and has a very down-to-earth minimalistic lifestyle. She hero-worships Leo Babauta and lives without a TV. I didn’t love this book at the beginning. It seemed like a regurgitation of Your Money or Your Life, but updated for the blogging generation. Then it seemed like a push for the tiny house movement. I can’t see me, my husband and my dog ever being comfortable in 84 square feet, sorry.
Then, about halfway through the book I started reading things I haven’t already seen in ten other places. Strobel talks about the arguments she had with her husband Logan as they were simplifying their life and paying off debt; she admits that they often had to push each other to take a particular next step, and I appreciated that candor.
She also talked about community in a way that I haven’t read before; in so many cases with minimalists I’m left wondering, “But what do they do? No TV, no shopping? What do they DO?” Strobel discussed her transition from a somewhat shy individual who self-medicated with shopping, working-for-possessions and commuting 90 minutes per day, to a person who pushed herself to get out in a new city and volunteer, join clubs, and be active. This sounds so obvious and simple, yet I have never really been convinced of the importance of community before reading this book. It’s so easy for me to be a lazy homebody and tell myself that “I get overwhelmed easily.”
In the end, I do think Strobel glossed over a lot things. She says her husband claims his daily 30-minute bike ride to work to be the best part of his day. She says she never misses her car, and loves owning so few possessions. But c’mon. Biking with groceries through Portland year-round? Can’t be roses all the time. And I’m somewhat doubtful as to how much communication in her marriage has been improved because they live on top of each other. And what if you get joy and peace from cooking a good meal for you and your loved ones? Can’t do that in a tiny house. And she didn’t mention the holidays.
Oh well. Glad I read it, but not life-changing.