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The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters Paperback – 26 Dec 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Del; Reprint edition (26 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812976002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812976007
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 861,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Harrison on 8 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I quite enjoyed this, and it contains some useful information...

... but branding it as "Not So Big" is really a brand taken too far.

I'd bought this because I'm a fan of Ms. Susanka's architectural crusade, and the alternative she proposes to McMansions. I have several of her other books (The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live and Creating the Not So Big House, and have happily recommended them.

However, this is quite different. Apart from the personal anecdotes from her work as an architect, and a page at the start of each chapter giving some tenuous link between an architectural principle and a life one, this is a fairly general book about the theories of concentrating on the personally important, and the use of meditation.

As such, it's hard to see who it would be ideal for - there are better books about organisation, meditation, and personal development - maybe a Susanka fan who wanted the complete set?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 54 reviews
153 of 170 people found the following review helpful
Unrealized expectations 1 July 2007
By Antonio Vives - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by acknowledging that I could not finish the book. The expectations that the author raises are very high. By the fifth chapter, we are told the same thing zillions of times: you can slow down and make your life more enjoyable. Repeat, repeat, going nowhere. The premise that you can think about remodeling your life the same way you can a house looks preposterous at first, but it is one most of us can relate to and I though it would work. Unfortunately the book does not deliver. It is full of anecdotes from the author's life, with very little "universal" advice, i.e. advice most can relate to. I pushed myself to read, as I am about to make a move from a big life to a not so big one. Unfortunately the chapter on interpretation of (sleeping) dreams did it. It devalued the whole book for me. Her dream may be reasonable to her, but the use of a dream to make an obscure point and her convoluted and personal interpretation made me think that I was no longer reading a serious book.
66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Tedious Times Ten 13 Nov. 2007
By Lisa Westbrook - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've thoroughly enjoyed Susanka's shelter books, but I'm beginning to think she must have had a heck of a ghostwriter and editor for them. This book's premise is good, but actually trying to get through it is another matter. Ponderous, tedious, just plain boring, all come to mind. Save your time and money. If you want to simplify your life, go clean out a couple of closets instead.
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
not so big, not so much 10 Jun. 2008
By ElizabethD - Published on
Format: Paperback
I LOVE the Not So Big House books - I have purchased all of them. I saw "The Not So Big Life" at our public library and took it home, and am I glad I borrowed and didn't purchase it. I enjoy the writing style and outlook of her architectural style books, but unfortunately this book is lacking in practical method in simplifying your life, which is what I expected from the title. It makes annoying assumptions that the reader has the luxury (as obviously the author has) to step back from the real world. Making copious lists of life experiences and their effect on my psyche doesn't do it for me. I tried several times to read it from the beginning, to "flip through," to try and find chapters that applied to me, with no luck. Some reviewers say the book worked for them, but I highly encourage you to check it out at your local library before placing your order.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
The arrogance is off-putting 12 Feb. 2008
By Anonymous - Published on
Format: Paperback
There are actually some interesting and helpful ideas in this book. But I found the author's naivety and arrogance quite off-putting. She seems to think that everyone should follow the same steps she has taken on her own quite recent spiritual path in order to utterly transform one's life. She draws heavily on the Buddhist principles of mindfulness and meditation but presents these ideas almost as if she was the first one to discover them. Otherwise, it's a hodgepodge of her own various tools and insights, such as a simplified presentation of dream analysis and various kinds of visualization. So read it if you're interested in knowing what has worked for her; but beware that the premise of the book is that what worked for her should be a blueprint for everyone else.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Slow writing and few new insights make for a book that is worth reading, but not worth buying 23 Feb. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I got this book from a friend who knows how VERY much I enjoy Susanka's Not So Big House books. I also love reading books about how to improve myself and my life, so this seemed at first glance like it'd be perfect for me.

Unfortunately, since I have read a few self-improvement books, I didn't find anything truly new and helpful here. I appreciate that Susanka is trying to draw in an audience that might not normally buy self-help books, but her writing pace here is slow, lacks passion, and didn't get me fired up to do even the things that I already thought were a good idea. (I think a good editor might have made all the difference here, unfortunately the editor didn't edit much.)

Don't get me wrong, the book is not without value; but for me, growing up with a new-age mom, excited all my life about reading books that help me make the most of myself - I didn't find anything truly new here, and it wasn't presented in a fashion that made up for its lack of newness.

At the end of the book I had three bookmarks in it - one for a quote that showed the importance of our surroundings to our inner life, and two for points that Susanka made that I felt were new takes on old subjects. But overall, I didn't get the cover price in value out of this. Not that I am bitter, the Not So Big House book that I own is falling apart at the seams from use, so I owe the author a debt of gratitude there.
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