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The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life [Paperback]

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Item Number 161326  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.04" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.68"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 17, 1998
Publisher   Harper Paperbacks
ISBN  0060928727  
EAN  9780060928728  
UPC  099455012003  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
For a growing number of people, simplicity has been a path to experience the joy in life, to cherish its richness and vitality.It strips away the burdens of our daily lives so that we are left with exhilaration, spirit and fullness. These people are finding that less -- less work, less rushing, less debt -- is more -- more time with family and friends, more time with community, more time with nature, and more time to develop a meaningful and compelling spirituality.

In The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life, author Cecile Andrews helps you discover and create the good life for yourself. She is renowned for her workshops on voluntary simplicity and her seminars on creating simplicity circles, where people explore their own life stories and share information and knowledge, helping one another develop lives of simplicity and satisfaction. The circles do not only give people the tools to change, but they also fill unmet needs for community and intimacy and the desire to search for truth in the company of kindred spirits.

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More About Cecile Andrews

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Cecile Andrews is a community educator, author of Circle of Simplicity, and contributor to several books on living more simply and taking back our time. She has a doctorate from Stanford and teaches at Seattle University. She and her husband are founders of Seattle's Phinney Ecovillage, a neighborhood-based sustainable community. Wanda Urbanska is a Harvard graduate whose life's work has involved living simply. She is the President of Simple Living Company, the producer/host of Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska, and the author of three books on the subject. She lives in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Portrait of a better world -- maybe  Sep 5, 2005
This book is well written in my opinion, and most of the points are well made. I'll think twice before my next trip to a department store. I hate shopping anyway. I'd rather read a good book (like hers) or strive to write one.

That said, I have to confess that this book got my political dander up. A lot of immigrants to America went through trouble to get away from political systems such as the author seems to favor. Perhaps nations with heavy taxation are more benevolent than those where people can keep more of the money they earn; I don't know how benevolence is measured, but it seems that the author is right about this. But is there a causal relation? I doubt it. Will raising our taxes make us more good-hearted? I doubt it.

I am motivated to creativity because of the prospect that I can earn money from writing. I hope someday to be well-off enough to make donations to charities and causes of my own choice. All too often, governments waste the money they collect from their working people, or spend it in ways that damage the environment on a larger scale than any corporation ever did. (Witness what happened in parts of eastern Europe during the socialist experiments of the 1900s.)

I agree with the author that the obsessive pursuit of vast wealth, with complete disregard for everything else, would not take place in a more enlightened society. But old-school socialism was a failure. It did not become Utopia. The new bosses proved no better than the old, and some would say they were worse.

Simplicity is great! Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify!" Good idea! But didn't Thoreau go to jail for refusal to pay taxes? I've read his work, and I suspect he'd be a libertarian, not a socialist, if he were alive today. Governments, too, can simplify, and they can start by letting people mind their own business and not taking their money and using it to tell them how to live ...

Overall, I recommend this book, because it really got me thinking. That, in itself, is good enough to qualify a work as "good" by my standard, whether I agree with the author or not.
Simplicity Discussion Groups  Dec 23, 2004
This book provides a broad overview of some of the issues behind the Simplicity movement. The author, Cecile Andrews set up a number of Simplicity study circles near her home in the Northwest. This book reveals some of the factors that led her to become interested in Simplicity as well as her ideas of how Simplicity study circles might work. Much of the beginning of the book provides justification for adopting Simplicity. Andrews enumerates problems such as hyper-consumption, environmental degradation, and personal isolation. She also explores possible actions we could take to solve these problems, such as consciously building community with other people and the earth, finding ways to express our spirituality, and restructuring our economic system to make it more environmentally and socially friendly. In the last part of the book, she describes the idea of Simplicity study circles, the benefits that might be gained from participating in one, and how a study circle should operate. She also provides a 10-week study plan based on the earlier material in the book.

Although I agree with the ideas in this book, I found the book rather disappointing in content. Much of the discussion is either so personal as to be hard to generalize, or else a superficial summary of other more substantial texts. For example, Andrews frequently refers to findings of Juliet Schor; readers would have more material for discussion by reading Schor's works directly. Some of Andrews' suggestions for addressing problems are rather inappropriate. To draw attention to hyper-consumerism, she suggests surreptitiously clothes-pinning tags with messages like "You don't really need this, do you?" inside articles of clothing in shops. While I'm all for trying to get people to become more aware of their needless purchases, I don't think messing with the property of individual store owners is an acceptable way to go about the mission. Her suggestions for reforming our economic system would be great in an ideal state, but until we are run by a benevolent socialist dictator, I don't think they can realistically be put into action. It would be better to focus our efforts on goals that are conceivably achievable. Overall, while I found the topic of this book interesting, I think there are numerous other books on the topic of Simplicity that are better implemented, starting with Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin's "Your Money or Your Life". It's hard to tell from this book if Andrews can take credit for originating Simplicity study groups such as those run by the Northwest Earth Institute. If so, she certainly deserves credit for her efforts in that area, but I don't think there's enough substantial material in this volume to use as background reading for an effective study group by itself.
When the student was ready, the teacher arrived!  Nov 28, 2004
I first read this book about five years ago when I was yearning for SOMETHING in my life, but didn't know quite what. Cecile seemed to have read my mind and outlined the very needs of someone caught up in the "junk" of life -- both mentally and physcially -- and gave solid ways of untangling one's life. If you heard of "voluntary simplicity" but haven't yet caught the wave, this book is a wonderful introduction to the concept and will lead you on to learn more. You will see your life in a new light after the seed of simplicity is planted in your mind.
Inspiring, with a good, real-world process  Nov 9, 2004
I'm surprised at the negative reviews of this book -- I've found it very inspiring. While it doesn't lay out a plan for the individual, it lays out a process for engaging with other folks to work toward a simpler, yet more fulfilling, life. In my personal experience, such a "support group" is vital to both mainitaining the focus on simplifying, and in enriching your world.
Disappointed  Jul 14, 2004
I picked up this book after reading about it on the Simple Living network, which I found as an outgrowth of my interest in the work of the late Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin and their work "Your Money or Your Life". Unlike Mr. Dominguez and Ms. Robin, who manage to lay out an actual plan for simple living, Ms. Andrews chooses to ramble and rail against consumerism. After reading Dominguez, this book is disjointed, preachy and quite frankly, bad. That's not so say that Ms. Andrews doesn't have some good ideas. She does, but as with so many anecdotal books, they're not the basis for changing your life in any significant way. If you live an environmentally sensitive life, Ms. Andrews will certainly make you feel good about yourself, but if your goal is to simplify your life, you could do better than spending time on this book.

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