Epicurean Simplicity by Stephanie Mills (thoughts)
I’m quite curious about movements such as voluntary simplicity and minimalism, although I think of myself a more of an ‘enough-ist.’ I’ve no interest in only owning one hundred things, or even counting all of my things, or living ‘off the grid,’ but I do have a lot of interest in opting out of hyperconsumerism, making sustainable choices, and finding contentment with what I have instead of constantly desiring new or better things.
Usually, when I’m interested in something, I read about it. Often times, I read lots of about it. But strangely enough, I haven’t been able to turn up that many relevant books that look like thoughtful, philosophical explorations rather than self help. Perhaps I’m not searching the correct terms in my library catalogue? I found Epicurean Simplicity by Stephanie Mills with the subject ‘simplicity,’ and placed it on hold without really looking into more detail.
It turns out it’s an essay collection, shaped around a year in Mills’ life; I do love it when books are tied in to the seasons. Mills lives in a small, self-sufficient house on a plot of land in the Midwest, close enough to a town but with enough trees and space to feel a bit removed. She’s chosen to live a simpler life, and this book is about that life and her choices. As such, it’s quite idiosyncratic, and while there was much I liked about the book, there were also enough thoughts that annoyed me that I can’t say I loved, or even really, really liked it. Honestly, I don’t even have very clear memories of it, although I read it perhaps three weeks ago, which is quite telling, isn’t it?
I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t connect with this more. I don’t think it was the personal aspect; while I’m not a memoir fan, I do love essays, and this fell more into that camp. And I’m sure it’s not because Mills is an opinionated older women; many of my very favourite authors are such women. I suppose that’s just the way of reading, isn’t it? Some books reach out and grab us while others, although well written and about appealing topics, don’t. I believe she references Thoreau, as do many authors writing about voluntary simplicity, and as I am not a fan of Thoreau that might have something to do with it. But ultimately, there simply wasn’t a spark. I can’t see myself pursuing more of Mills’ work, but I wouldn’t discourage others from reading her.