books | edit

Books are timeless. Here is a list of the ones that left a mark on me.

Other books I like, but haven't wrote an article about:

Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki

Here is a list of 55 tips to help you say goodbye to objects according to this book.
  1. Get rid of the idea that you can't get rid of your things.
  2. Getting rid of something takes skill.
  3. When you do this, you win more than you lose.
  4. Ask yourself why you can't get rid of your things.
  5. Minimizing is difficult, but not impossible.
  6. There are limits to the capacity of your mind, your energy and your time.
  7. Get rid of something now.
  8. There isn't a single item that you will regret getting rid of.
  9. Start with the obvious unnecessary things.
  10. Minimize what you have duplicate.
  11. Get rid of anything you haven't used for over a year.
  12. Get rid of it if you own it just for looks.
  13. Differentiate the things you want from the things you need.
  14. Take pictures of items that are difficult to get rid of.
  15. Memories are easier to recall when they are digital.
  16. Our objects are like roommates, except that we pay the rent.
  17. Organizing is not minimizing.
  18. Tackle the niq (storage) before the pest (disorder).
  19. Leave your unused spaces empty.
  20. Abandon the idea of ​​"someday".
  21. Say goodbye to who you've been.
  22. Get rid of things you have already forgotten.
  23. Don't try to be creative when trying to get rid of things.
  24. Give up the idea of ​​getting your money back.
  25. There is no need to accumulate.
  26. Feeling joy will help you focus.
  27. Online shopping sites are an easy way to dispose of your items.
  28. Use these sites to say a final goodbye to your items.
  29. Use a pick-up service to dispose of your items.
  30. Don't get hung up on the prices you paid initially.
  31. Imagine stores as your personal warehouses.
  32. The city is our personal space.
  33. Get rid of all the items that you cannot talk about with passion.
  34. If you lost it, would you buy it again?
  35. If you cannot remember how many gifts you gave, don't worry about the gifts you received.
  36. Try to imagine what the deceased would have wanted.
  37. Throwing away keepsakes is not the same as throwing away memories.
  38. Our biggest articles set off chain reactions.
  39. Our houses are not museums; they don't need collections.
  40. Be social; be a borrower.
  41. Praise what can be praised.
  42. Social media can increase your motivation to minimize.
  43. How about starting from scratch?
  44. Say "see you later" before you say goodbye.
  45. Throw away anything that creates visual noise.
  46. ​​An object enters, an object leaves.
  47. Avoid the Concorde fallacy.
  48. Be quick to admit mistakes. They help you grow.
  49. Think of the purchase as a rental.
  50. Don't buy it because it's cheap. Don't take it because it's free.
  51. If it's not an "oh, yes!", It's a "no".
  52. The things we really need will always find their way back to us.
  53. Retain gratitude.
  54. Throwing things away can be a waste of time. But the guilt that keeps you from minimizing is the real waste.
  55. The things we say goodbye are things we will remember forever.

In the end, fewer physical objects do not mean less satisfaction. Less comfort is not necessarily bad, it forces us to re-imagine our needs and our long-term vision.

The Art of Simple Living by Shunmyo Masuno

A truly great, simple book that I want to find a physical copy to pass to my children. It reminds me of the values ​​I want to breathe, sweat, inspire. Here are a few points I want to remember.

Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers and Dennis Meadows

If there is a single book that changed my entire vision forever, this is the one. In fact, it's the only physical book I had for years. Even after 40 years, it is still relevant. A must read.

Small is beautiful by Ernest Friedrich Schumacher

The original expression small is beautiful comes from Leopold Kohr, an economist and philosopher who died in 1994, who advocated the return to life in small communities, this idea that works for me for a long time. Having taught in Toronto, he popularized an ideology of a human-sized world, that is to say that the major problems that the latter is experiencing should make him change his behavior, by supporting ecological theories, of sustainable decrease. For Kohr, every time something goes wrong, something is too big.

The Innovation Delusion by Lee Vinsel

In my last read about the duality between maintenance and innovation-speak, I was trying to develop my inner sense to pare down on my needs, my expectations and my requirements in life. How? Focusing on maintenance is accepting a steady state, a statu quo on things that revolve in your life. All I want right now is a quiet life, without the drama of a psycho-socially-connected life and having time to enjoy what is really important for me. Maintenance should allow that because we stop to pursuit a dreamy life that doesn’t exist, except in our mind.

To learn more about paring down state, refer to Zen Habits - The Simplicity Cycle: Returning to Paring Down to Find your True Needs and Pairing Ideas by the same author.

Concrete examples of maintenance instead of innovation-speak is to understand the necessity to have a roof without leaks over your head instead of going to Disneyland for a week. Yes, it might seems like a compromise, but in fact it is more a confrontation between a fake life and the reality.

Who needs a car with all the gadgets if only it brings you debt and obligations when you can go debt-free, simple no gadget car that will probably be more reliable anyway?

For me, maintenance = low needs = simplicity = lean life

And, innovation-speak = spending too much money = complexity and futile = overwhelmed life

The excesses of capitalism and global ecological catastrophes have a common theme: They are the costs of neglect, and the consequences of a society that values the individual accumulation of wealth above the commun good.
The Innovation Delusion is the false belief that the pursuit of innovation and novelty will lead us into the promised land of growth and profit when, in reality, it will lead us to ignore the ever-accumulating pile of deferred maintenance and infrastructure debt -and, in the process, lead individuals toward burnout and our society to accelerating levels of exploitation and inequality.

Ultralight by Leo Babauta

Published in 2016, it's a short book about his vision on how to travel and live light. Since traveling isn't super trendy right now, I'm reading the book purely on living light as it can be applied daily. Here are my notes.





Dealing with the urge to buy:

When you have to deal with urges to purchase stuff:
  1. Notice it. When you visit a merchant website per example.
  2. Sit with it. See how it feels by taking the time for the urge to build up in you. Don't act, just watch the energy in your body.
  3. See the story. Try to note the reasons we told ourselves on why we need to buy. I will be more active if I buy this new bike per example. Many times, we can realize it is not real, but just a dream life.
  4. Appreciate the present. Feel your 5 senses to notice the moment in front of you. Have gratitude.

Civilized to Death by Christopher Ryan

During my improbable reading of this book many assumptions of everyday life were debunked to me. In fact, it opened my eyes to cynicism, to quitting taking the society we live in for granted and questioning what "experts" say.

Some glaring examples are that it presents agriculture as the greatest fraud of humanity (nothing less), it sets the record straight on the subject of sacrosanct economic growth (as I said before). I spoke about GDP and about this mentality that we are constantly trying to push on Western generations: Don't worry, be happy. Similar to that, Matt Ridley is a champion: Apocalypse Not: Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry About End Times

Really, this book is to read if you wish to redefine your vision of the global challenges of our society. Sometimes we look at the tip of our nose so much that we forget that there are nostrils underneath.

No is not enough by Naomi Klein

Each day that passes is the theater of nameless aberrations and the one which the following day is only a continuation of what makes me stand on end. One day, we will realize:

I look forward to the day when each human being will wake up and stop acting for himself alone and think of his neighbor before his own person. Personal interests have forged industries, lifestyles and built environments that are difficult to modify and with which we live with serious social, environmental and ethical consequences.

This is in direct connection with my recent reading of No is not enough, the book by Naomi Klein which describes with continuity the strategy of shock for some to push their own agenda at the expense of large populations.

This is a good time to remember that manufacturing false hierarchies based on race and gender in order to enforce a brutal class system is a very long story. Our modern capitalist economy was born thanks to two very large subsidies: stolen Indigenous land and stolen African people. Both required the creation of intellectual theories that ranked the relative value of human lives and labor, placing white men at the top.

Your money or your life by Vicky Robin

Having enough is not a bad thing. For me, it is a symbol of positivism. Too often, society transmits values ​​to us that are nothing like us. While some will always wish for more (be it money, prestige, recognition or assets/possessions), sometimes you have to take a step back and reassess your own values.

Vicky Robin's Your money or your life book (as well as Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska's Less is More) made me realize the value of the word enough.

Vicky Robin talks about the state as the highest point on the happiness spectrum, just before it slips into excess and lust without the addition of well-being.

Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska speak of Lagom, a Swedish word that refers to just enough, the point of optimal comfort where perfection is not sought, but rather an amount appropriate to our values, without excess.

Over time, I learn to respect not only the environment, but also to find a balance and a meaning in my life in order to live in a more serene, calmer way. Enough is to refuse abundance, extremism and letting go towards amoral lust.

On Becoming an Individual or HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD by David Cain

A short 46-page book, about self-actualization as a full-fledged individual. Time flies at an unthinkable speed, it is easy to allow ourselves to age, to stagnate and not to take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered to us. Since 2011, I started to write more or less regularly my state of mind, my progress on my finds of a different life for which I was destined and I find these writings after only a few years and I love the fact to be able to observe the road traveled. Thus, I can continue to evolve in the process by tracing a more precise path, closer to my will and avoid stagnating.

If I had only one wish, it would be to develop a serious business with small-scale passive income that would allow me to be more independent from a strict-hourly job that I don't always feel very useful about.

In addition, I will continue to read, to educate myself, to live in the present moment, to refuse the societal model that is imposed in all spheres on everyone and to wander through the landscapes, no matter how to get there.

La simplicité volontaire, plus que jamais by Serge Mongeau

We often talk about small actions to conserve energy: turning off the light when leaving a room, combining transportation, reducing meat consumption, etc. In fact, what we are talking about is conservation rather than consumption.

In this French book, this is the subject of a chapter called "Blending into the environment" ("Se fondre dans l'environnement").

Conserve is the antithesis of consuming; with this in mind, all efforts tend not to consume and therefore not to destroy or to delay this destruction as much as possible. But with life being what it is, consumption cannot be avoided entirely. The objective is then to prevent the way he uses drugs from having negative consequences, which is possible. [Personal translation of the original text in French]

When you think about it, each of us comes out of education in search of a paying job. In order to "give ourselves the means", we get a vehicle in order to be more mobile and increase our employment possibilities within a greater radius of action. And you get a higher paying job. We renew our car, move to a bigger house, buy luxury goods. And to continue to progress, we change jobs for higher remuneration in order to meet our increasing standard of living.

It is an endless wheel that is harmful to the environment and to each of us. The pursuit of "success" leads to increasingly higher consumption of resources and energy, despite technological progress. We are so predatory on a better (individual) life that we are consuming what surrounds us at a breakneck pace and destroying our possibilities for conservation.

The amazing thing is that Mongeau's book was published ... 20 years ago. Little, if any, progress seems to me to have taken place. And this is most disturbing in modern history, our propensity to rarely forsake individual comfort in the name of common well-being.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

This book is revealing about our daily life, consumed by technology and how we are actually told to think. As Aldous Huxley mentioned in Brave New World, we should really fear ourselves. We love to be entertained, even when the subjects are nothing to laugh at. Politics, environment, our future as human kind, etc. "People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think." as Neil Postman wrote on the foreword of the book.

About technology as a whole:

What do you think people/society should be doing to try to anticipate the negatives and be able to do something about them?
I think every one should be sensitive to certain questions. For example, when confronted to a new technology (weither it is a cellular phone or a high definition television, cyberspace or Internet), one question should be: what is the problem to which this technology is a solution? And the second question would be: whose problem is it actually? And the third question would be: if there is a legitimate problem here that is solved by the technology, what other problems will be created by my using this technology? [...] Am I using this technology or is it using me? [...] In a technological culture it is very easy to be swept up in the enthusiasm for technology [...]

About advertisement:

The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of consumers of products. Images of movie stars and famous athletes, of serene lakes and macho fishing trips, of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families packing their station wagons for a picnic in the country - these tell nothing about the products being sold. But they tell everything about the fears, fancies and dreams of those who might buy them. What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research. The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The consumer is a patient assured by psycho-dramas. (p.128)

About big data, written in 1985:
Thus, a central thesis of computer technology -that the principal difficulty we have in solving problems stems from insufficient data- will go unexamined. Until, years from now, when it will be noticed that the massive collection and speed-of-light retrieval of data have been of great value to large-scale organizations but have solved very little of importance to most people and have created at least as many problems for them as they may have solved. (p.161)

About being entertained instead of informed:

[Aldous Huxley] was trying to tell us that what afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did now know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking. (p.163)

Bottom line is: Neil Postman was ahead of his time, warning us about the distraction that technologies bring us. He focused on television on this specific book, but it is actually broader than that. Every single electronic device comodifies our existence, thus we don't consider the side effects, aka being entertained all the time, turning off our brain and our creativity. I feel that human beings are getting away from the concept of being a human being.


World Wide Waste by Gerry McGovern

This author is a web pioneer who has been tackling the production of content that can be described as waste for a long time.

Digital encourages extreme waste and an extreme waste mindseet.
It's one thing to depelte natural resources in oder to create useful things [... but] to dig up the Earth in order to create a giant dump of unncessary crap, of half-baked products and services, of gadgets that meet nothing but a passing whim, to leave YouTube streaming in an empty room on a large screen, to back up files that have absolutely no useful function, that sort of behavior should make us feel ashamed.
The World Wide Web is indeed the World Wide Waste. The dark side of digital is that it has been a massive accelerant for our desire to create and own stuff, to consume, dispose of, and waste time, resources and energy at never-before-dreamt-of levels.

In just a few pages, Gerry McGovern lays out the problem of our digital obesity, our know-how of always bigger, always faster, always more modern.

This appeals to me greatly, given my mission to reduce my [digital footprint] (, the resource demand of this website and to develop an ideology of less is more .

But the author goes even further. On the subject of distractions, emails and new platforms like Slack or Teams, here are a few lines that sum up my thought well:

Think before you send that message. Consider that you are interrupting the flow of your colleagues. Slow down. Turn off. Wait.

On the personal side, I strive to reduce my pace, reduce noise, be conscientious of my choices and how my time is allocated. However, at work, it is a losing battle. Microsoft Teams has been forcibly pushed down our throats and everything is accelerating. No more noise, no more content that won't be read, no more unnecessary interactions, no more remote meetings, more of everything. Except for focus.


The Conundrum by David Owen

The book opened my eyes not to environmental issues, but to human issues. The author does not drown us with bogus statistics, but rather uses logic to make us realize that we are just men and women who do not seem to really want to improve the environmental situation. Because our standard of living interests us too much, because any sacrifice is impossible, because regression seems unnecessary, because our consumer soul dictates everything to us.

And I must admit that from my point of view, I am hardly the example to follow in order to reduce its environmental footprint. Despite the fact of getting closer to work (distance to be covered reduced by more than 50%) and despite the reduction in the size of my home, I did not know (and wanted) to get rid of my vehicles. Why? Probably because it is synonymous with freedom, fulfillment, opportunity and possibilities.

Not having a car, which the author sees as a big part of the solution, I won't be able to do. And I won't be the only one. Maybe going from two cars to one would be possible eventually, but the fact remains that my way of life (and that of millions of other people) is based on the existence of this damn car.

And let's talk about consumption: how to reduce it when the current world is built around the continuous improvement of our quality of life, personal appreciation and pleasure? Except for imposing the purchase of used goods, I have not succeeded in avoiding excessive consumption, because it is an integral part of our "North American" way of life.

Take the recent example where I started a new nautical activity: kayaking. To indulge myself in it, I have the option of renting a boat for $ 50 each time I see fit to do so or to personally equip myself with a boat, paddles, PFDs and other accessories for $ 1000 or $ 2000 approximately. While the former seems economical, in the long run it is better for me to buy my equipment. However, even when buying used in classified ads, the simple fact of reserving natural resources for my single use rather than having these same resources usable by thousands of people makes my environmental footprint multiplied by a high coefficient. It is much better to share the same boat and accessories between a pool of 1000 citizens than to collect, transform, produce and transport finished products to 1000 copies. However, American life does not reflect this sharing of resources, whether it is a kayak or a vehicle.

Everyone must own these goods, to display his personal success among other things.

And it is on this point that I tell myself that David Owen is absolutely right: we are not ready to change our consumption habits. Rather than sharing, we want to change the vehicle to be more "ecological" than the old one. However, the planet cannot support an infinite demand for the simple reason that its resources are not infinite.

How to live by Derek Sivers


I recently focused on discovering Derek Sivers fully. I knew him since a year or two, but didn't really put any effort on learning his story and reading his posts and books. What I observed is somebody with many things to say, but nothing that has been said before. I really connect his personality, ideas and way to communicate. Beside being an entrepreneur (something I didn't try enough to develop myself), he is a skill freak; coding everything himself by hand, without dependencies or bullshit. Everything he does seems to be simple, lean and efficient.

The book How to Live is the most recent book from Derek. Not only it is a masterpiece (in my opinion), but it is also self published and when you buy it, you get the audiobook and the ebook (and for a mere $4, you can get the physical book!). I personally bought the full kit, but I started to listen the audiobook first. Then read the ebook. Then ordered the physical one since I really enjoyed it and want to refer to it oftentimes.

Bottom line of this book is: there is not a single way to live, find elements to live your life by your own terms and reassess frequently. The subtitle is "27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion" for a reason.

Below are my (really personal) reading notes. You will probably retain different elements than myself, and that's ok.

Be independent: Avoid dependencies from money, tech, people, religion, social media, philosophy, political opinions like plague. You can't be free without self-mastery. Quit your addictions.

Commit: Stop seeking perfection. Instead, decide and focus on one direction.

Fill your senses: "Always be a stranger in a strange land." Have no expectations, just try to discover as much as you can.

Do nothing: "All actions are optional." Your mind should be quiet, don't try to change anything or react about something. Word "noise" comes from "nausea". Be silent.

Think super-long-term: All actions should be aligned for a long-term benefit, well being. Discomfort today is fine, as it bring more rewards tomorrow. "We overestimate what we can do in one year. We underestimate what we can do in ten years."

Intertwine with the world: Travel to connect with others, to stop thinking you're right, to bring more opportunities, to discover new cultures, to communicate better.

Make memories: Document everything, journal every day. "To enjoy your past is to live twice." Use your past to make your future.

Master something: "If you do what most people do, you’ll get what most people get." Work hard to learn a single skill nobody can buy, rush to learn, inherit or steal. "Your destination is a huge mountain peak on the horizon. You can see it from everywhere. Yes to that mountain, and no to everything else."

Let randomness rule: "Choose a life where you choose nothing." Coincidences are life, randomness keeps your mind open so you can discover something different that was not supposed to be in your way.

Pursue pain: "The goal of life is not comfort." By trying to protect ourselves from pain, we miss the rewards and the possible improvement.

Do whatever you want now: Past is memories, future is imagination, the only thing real is right now. "You know immediately whether you like something or not. But if someone asks why, you start making up reasons. The truth is you like it or you don’t. That's it. That's life. Do whatever you life. You don't need explanations."

Be a famous pioneer: "The old finish line becomes the new starting line. [...] Go to new extremes. Try new ideas. Visit undiscovered cultures. Show what can be done." When you do something previously known as impossible for the first time, you set new standards.

Chase the future: "In your world, the past has no power at all." Focus on new invention, techniques and get rid of habits, assumptions.

Value only what has endured: "Modern life is shallow and distracted. Timeless life is deep and focused." Forget novelties and shining new technologies, embrace good old stuff.

Learn: "The biggest obstacle to learning is assuming you already know. [...] The easiest person to fool is yourself." Always question your mind and try to learn something out of your field every day or so.

Follow the great book: "You don't lack direction. You have too many directions." Stick long-term to the rules you picked long time ago, it helps you to avoid rethinking everything, every day.

Laugh at life: "Someone says life is hard. The comedian says, Compared to what? Comedians are philosophers." Humor helps us to see life in a different perspective since there is no real truth.

Prepare for the worst: "Train your mind to be ready for whatever may come." Own few things, stop excessive luxuries, want nothing, focus, detach from the outcome.

For others: "You are lifted by those around you [that you helped beforehand]". Being kind to others is fruitful and the relationship with a friend also gives you an additional perspective on life.

Get rich: "Money is as neutral as math. Because it's neutral, people have projected all kinds of meaning onto it." Action your ideas and don't be shy of charging and making money, but stay frugal.

Reinvent yourself regularly: "Whatever happened before has nothing at all to do with what happens next." Since nothing is permanent, always try something different on regular interval.

Love: "Actively listen to people. [...] When someone tells you what's broken, they want you to love the brokenness, not try to eliminate it." Honesty and integrity bring better results when it comes down to love.

All quotes are excerpt from referred books. Material may be protected by copyright.