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“Frugal Hedonism” might not be a phrase you find yourself uttering on a regular basis, but if you enjoy living the good life without spending a lot of money you might in fact be practicing frugal hedonism without even knowing it. And, if you want more ideas about how to live frugally while still enjoying all of the sweet pleasures that life can offer, The Art of Frugal Hedonism (2016) by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb might be just the inspiration that you need.
Raser-Rowland and Grubb say “frugal hedonism” is about “perceiving a more multidimensional spectrum of pleasures, and living accordingly” (p. 14). In short, they encourage readers to see frugality not as the domain of the martyr who goes without, but instead as the domain of one who knows how to appreciate life in a way that makes pleasure more affordable and frequent. Hedonism, after all, is “the pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially pleasures of the senses” (p. 14).
The Art of Frugal Hedonism was the summer book club choice for homesteaders who joined our homesteading book group on Facebook. After a very democratic (and close!) race among a number of books available through Chelsea Green Publishers, our partner for the summer book club, we engaged in a group read and dialogue sharing ideas about how the book was inspiring us (and one lucky book group member received a free copy!). This review builds upon not only my read of the book but the feedback offered by others in the group (who wholeheartedly give this book their highest recommendation), so consider this article a crowd-sourced review!
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So, what did we like about the book?
One of our book club participants said it well when she described the book as “liberating.” The authors give the reader full permission to create a new definition of what is “normal” and to actively work against some of what our culture has defined as normal – like long work weeks, big houses, or the need for more and newer things. Giving yourself permission to redefine what you see as beautiful, pleasurable, and enjoyable is a key step to being able to enjoy more of life.
There is a connection here to what I have studied around mindfulness – if you can learn to better enjoy the present moment, you can help dissuade the voices inside that tell you that you need more or better things in order to enjoy life. But beyond mindfulness, Raser-Rowland and Grubb encourage you to “relish” in those moments, and the rich, luscious words that they describe help you to think in a more hedonistic way.
Relish is a word worth musing upon. It can sound almost indecent, with its suggestion
of immoderate sensory intensity. Your authors regard this full engagement
with the pleasure potential of life as the very finest skill in our frugality armoury.
- Raser Rowland & Grubb, p. 22
What makes this book practical, and why one reviewer said she had adopted the book as “her bible” is that Raser-Rowland and Grubb don’t just talk about taking this approach to life, they offer chapter-after-chapter of examples of how to do that. From big choices around houses and cars (which are more challenging for me, personally) to small choices around food, clothing, and social relationships there really is something for everyone in this book. The trick is to find the things that you can actively implement in your own life and give them a try right away to see how it feels.
The authors speak from personal experience and aren’t afraid to throw a little bit of humor into a book that is otherwise deeply profound when you really think about it. In other words, I found this book to be a light read with life-changing implications. The authors are not going to pressure you to live like you “should” and they don’t judge you if you can’t replicate every life choice that they make. Rather, they aim to help you to live as you want. It’s a book I believe I will find myself going back to over and over again to remind myself of the hints and strategies that they share.
And yes, fair warning, you may find yourself repeating the phrase “frugal hedonism” in your head or out loud, prompting others to ask just what in the world you are talking about, which is a great excuse to spark a conversation!
Free annuals at the end of the season so I can create colorful planters for our last few social gatherings of the summer? Frugal Hedonism
Figuring out the money I can save by not working a full-time job? Frugal Hedonism
Consigning half the clothes in my closet and relishing how much space I have created and how much easier it is to choose what to wear? Frugal Hedonism
Exhilarating in the joy of a hot shower after a week of low cost amenities on a cheap camping trip? Frugal Hedonism
And so many more…
What will be your moments of frugal hedonism?
The Art of Frugal Hedonism is available through Chelsea Green Publishers or Amazon.
Thank you to Chelsea Green Publishing for providing a review copy of this book as well as a copy for one lucky winner! Check out their full collection of books related to sustainable living by clicking on the logo below.