The Unsettlers explores the lives and choices of several people who are in search of what used to be known as the simple life. As it turns out, from the starting point of modern urbanites, it really isn't so simple. Defining the parameters of simple living, learning primitive skills, and adjusting to a different style of social relations are complicated. Mark Sundeen makes a fascinating study of how different people approach these challenges.
How do you negotiate with your partner when you want to make a radical change in your lifestyle?
What rules do you have for your kids?
What stuff do you own, and how much?
Do you use electricity or not?
Do you have a car or not?
Where do you live?
What do you do for money, and what do you spend it on?
What it seems to come down to is that a lot of people are dissatisfied with the tech-heavy consumerist lifestyles in which they were brought up. They want something with more purpose and direction. How interesting, that people wind up adding constraints while striving for simplicity! This points to the different emphasis between voluntary simplicity and minimalism. Simple, in the sense of living close to nature and doing things at the pace of human, plant, and animal. Not necessarily simple in any other way.
The Unsettlers was a great read. I found it highly entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Anyone who is intrigued with simple living will undoubtedly come away from this book with a new perspective and a list of new ideas. Mark Sundeen also wrote The Man Who Quit Money, an extremely compelling book, and I am now keenly awaiting anything else that comes out with his name on it.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.