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Over the last couple of days, I’ve been diving into some great Sterling Jaquith books. I’m excited to share my reviews of both books in this post.
Not of This World: A Catholic Guide to Minimalism
Ben has been talking to me about minimalism for a while. We’ve had some interesting conversations, but there was one observation he made multiple times. It seemed like in an attempt to limit their possessions, people became even more preoccupied with their possessions because they were striving to live with so little. As Catholics who desire to have a family someday, this didn’t seem practical. Then, I learned about Sterling Jaquith’s Catholic perspective on minimalism. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the book, Not of This World, in exchange for the review (all views are my own).
In this three-part book, Jaquith details the reasons to pursue minimalism, steps towards living a minimalist lifestyle, and how to address the more complicated aspects of minimalism. Overall, I thought the book was an excellent resource providing a unique perspective on a popular topic. I loved the connections between minimalism and Catholicism. What I really appreciated was her emphasis that it wasn’t some guideline like you can only have five shirts; it is all about being intentional about how you live. I believe that she proposed very realistic expectations and met people where they’re at. She didn’t pretend to have it all together and admitted areas she struggled. This gentle approach made minimalism seem much more attainable than some of the more popular versions we see promoted. Lastly, I appreciate that she took the time to address unique situations like poverty or homeschooling. She did a very nice job making this book applicable to any Christian considering the minimalist lifestyle.
That being said, I have two criticisms of this book. The aspect I found annoying was the multiple recommendations to just Google something. I totally understand that she couldn’t possibly address every scenario in her book, but I would’ve preferred to just see an appendix with some search terms or nothing at all than to keep reading “Google it.” Another thing that bothered me was the typos in this book. I totally understand that mistakes happen, and I’d be willing to bet that there are multiple typos in this review, but I feel like a book should be held to higher standards. Usually, I can just skim past typos, but there were a few points where I actually had to stop and re-read the sentence to understand.
However, I still think this is a fantastic resource. It’s both relatable and realistic while having a clearly Christian influence. Every Christian who wants to live a more intentional life should use this book as a starting point.
This book unexpectedly showed up in the mail alongside Not of This World. Praise God, because this is a book I definitely needed to read. “Be Merry is a practical book about how we can avoid the feelings of anxiety and depression during the holidays.”
Though this book is short and simple, it provides excellent insights into handling the stresses of the holidays. Jaquith presents an honest take on the challenges of the holiday seasons while providing very realistic tips for handling them. I loved the balance of the spiritual guidance and the more tangible steps we can take in our lives. Jaquith’s humility makes this book incredibly relatable. There was one point where I called my husband over and had him read a section that sounded like it had come out of my own mouth. The exercises sprinkled throughout the book were great, and the song lyrics at the beginning of each chapter were a phenomenal addition. Something else I really appreciated about the book was her distinction between clinical depression and struggling with feelings of depression. As someone who has been treated for anxiety and depressive episodes, I am sometimes apprehensive about resources that claim they will help me manage these illnesses when they actually just conflate them with feeling stressed. This is not the case with this book; Jaquith distinguishes between the two different situations and recognizes that though her strategies are helpful, a person who is clinically depressed won’t benefit from them until they address the more prominent mental illness. Lastly, this book provided advice that was perfect for a variety of life stages. If you’re a single person, married without kids, or a mother of five, you will find advice in this book that you can use.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with stress during the holidays.
You can read my other book reviews here.